Reference Library

Reference Library

The languid gaze. The elegant gesture. The whisper of silk. The goddess serenely voluptuous. The god lithe and supple. Chola Bronzes are among the world’s finest sacred sculpture, with an undeniable vitality, as though they are about to take a breath.

A first impression is over in a heartbeat, but if you take the time to look deeper perhaps you may begin to see them as their Chola creators intended – metaphors in bronze of an absolute divine beauty.

Shailja and I wrote this Reference Library to help you gain a wider understanding of the spiritual context of this extraordinary sacred art. Whether you are casually browsing or searching for something specific, if you don’t find the information you need, just ask and we’ll help you find what you need.

We don’t make any claims to scholarship for this material. It has been written from our personal perspective and,  just as it is for the other billion or so Hindu believers, we have chosen what it is true from the almost limitless array of truths Hinduism offers. You may not agree with everything you read, but one of Hinduism’s wonderful qualities is inclusiveness and acceptance and we hope you’ll accept our Reference Library in the spirit with which it is offered.


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About Mantra

Terry and Shailja Curell

About Mantra Sacred Sculpture

Mantra Sacred Sculpture is the husband and wife team of Terry and Shailja Curell. From the moment we discovered Chola Bronzes fifteen years ago, this sublime art form has been our life’s artistic and spiritual inspiration. We travelled throughout south India, visiting temples and workshops, hungry to learn all we could before starting a small online gallery, Kaalita. Despite the logistical issues, we developed a loyal client base by bringing our clients and their special Chola sculpture together. However, as the years passed, we were faced with insurmountable quality issues from our traditional sources and reluctantly suspended our enterprise. Now, under a new name, we once again offer our clients the same dedication to craftsmanship and client satisfaction.

A thousand years ago, Chola bronzesmiths created masterpieces whose sensual elegance was secondary to their religious function of facilitating a visual connection, Darshan, between the Divinity and worshipper. Shailja and I believe such powerful art deserves the highest level of artistic and technical excellence.

We bring a similar commitment to our client relationships as well, so whether your sculpture will be the focal point of your spiritual life, or simply a striking garden feature, we offer one-on-one consultation guiding you through the acquisition process. Whether you purchase or not, we hope you’ll browse our Reference Library to learn more about this extraordinary art form.  

Our initial offering is found in Our Gallery, select pieces we’d sourced directly from traditional south Indian workshops – the photographs don’t do their patina justice. And if we don’t have what you want on hand, we offer a custom order option. 

Testimonials: Here’s a link to comments received from our clients.

Ethics: Anyone mixing commerce with objects of a spiritual nature must come to terms with the ethical issues. Be assured, Shailja and I are sensitive to the fact that many of our sculptures are destined to become the object of our client’s spiritual practice. We are fully aware that our pieces represent the heritage of an ancient spiritual tradition. 

Antiques: Should you wish to purchase an antique Chola Bronze, we will refer you to a specialist dealer. We choose not to deal in antique Chola Bronzes when India’s sacred sculpture is stolen and smuggled on an industrial scale. As collector’s appreciation of Chola Bronzes has grown, prices at auction for originals with a solid provenance are fetching in the millions. While reputable auction houses are usually diligent when confirming provenance, many thousands of Chola originals are still being stolen to order from village temples and shrines where they have sat unguarded for centuries. UNESCO estimates that over 50,000 objects, most of them spiritual in nature, have been lost. Sadly, enforcement at the source remains largely ineffectual. As an alternative to the risks involved in purchasing an antique Chola original, we offer the option of a custom order.

Temple Sculpture: Should you wish to acquire a sculpture for temple worship, we feel it ought to be cast by one of the few remaining Indian sthapathy still adhering to the centuries-old traditions of their forefathers. As worldwide demand for Chola Bronzes mushrooms many village workshops have chosen quantity over quality, yet there remain a few old-school sthapathys who remain true to the spiritual traditions of the ancient past. 

Privacy: We will never share your contact information with anyone. 

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Custom Orders

Custom Orders

Custom orders are a Mantra specialty, so if you don’t see what you want in Our Collection or elsewhere in the marketplace, we’d love to create a Chola Bronze just for you.

If what you want is in a museum, an auction house catalogue, or online, send us a link or photograph, and we’ll discuss how to re-create it. We have an extensive image library as well for fresh possibilities.

Shailja and I feel strongly that sacred art always deserves the finest craftsmanship and material. We feel substandard workmanship and material is disrespectful and inappropriate when re-creating Chola Bronzes. Our casting methods are state of the art, and although we prefer to use Everdur, a premium certified bronze alloy for our custom orders, you also have the option of true panchaloha or the traditional alloy formula used by the Chola bronzesmiths.

When casting and chasing your piece is complete, the final choice is patina.  As an alternative to waiting years for your patina to ripen naturally, we offer a broad spectrum of faux patinas. Our patineurs have the skill and experience to replicate almost any patina.

Terms

  • The initial quote is free of charge, however, we require a fifty percent deposit before the design process begins. Balance is due upon completion.
  • Design and casting may require 90 days or more, and you will receive regular updates throughout the process.
  • As an original work of art, a Mantra sculpture is free of US import duty, however, please check for possible future changes to customs duty for the USA or your country of residence.
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Testimonials

Testimonials

“… artistically superior to any other examples of the Chola tradition that I have found – outside (and even inside) museums. I know of no other source that provides examples of the Chola tradition of this quality. A remarkable bronze and a remarkable organization – both of the highest quality.”

Professor Waylon H, Lubbock, TX, USA

“I would like to thank you for your kindness and the marvellous job you did on these two statues :)) I am very happy, and I would like to thank also all your craftsmen who worked on those projects. Again, I really want you to know that you did an incredible job which is highly appreciated.”

Thomas S., Monaco

“I have seen the great Chola bronzes in museums in India, Ceylon and Europe. Your reproductions are magnificent. I have never seen anything to equal them. I would like to sincerely commend you – and also the artist – for striving so hard to produce a beautiful Nataraja for me. It is appreciated more than I can say.”

David B., Leavenworth, WA, USA

“I cannot thank you enough for the wonderful customer service on your end.  The piece looks great as well, and I would be happy to do business with you again as well as refer you to whoever needs your services.”

Hans P., Moorpark, CA, USA

“My Ganesh is absolutely beautiful, a stunning piece that I am overjoyed with.  I searched all over England looking for one… and I am absolutely delighted with my finished sculpture.  The quality is better than anything I’ve seen elsewhere and the honest service…was fantastic.  My Ganesh was definitely worth the wait.”

Kathryn W., Surrey, UK

“Thank you very much for the most lovely, beautiful boy Krishna…I don’t know what to say…I just love him (Krishna), when I opened the package WOW…and I do feel very good to doing business with you, also the service, kind nice package…Everything is excellent…”

Kannokit R., Varberg, Sweden

“Ardhanari has just arrived, I’ve unpacked it and it is beautiful. The fine detailing is exquisite and much better than the photos suggest. I’ve never seen a bronze so delicately made. Thank you so much for all of your correspondance and interest.  It has been a pleasure to deal with you.”

Graeme J., Tasmania, AU
Testimonials2019-11-08T09:01:06-08:00
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