During excavations along the shore of the Ob River near Novosibirsk in southwestern Siberia, a tiny, sculpted object was unearthed that has archaeologists and historians puzzled.
In this image you can see how small the dancing figurine is compared to a human hand.
The object was a four-inch (10-centimetre) bronze humanlike dancing figurine, which was sculpted in a way that seems to portray an individual in movement. This unusual Siberian-Indian dancing figurine has caused much excitement and for good reason.
The precious discovery, described by archaeology expert Andrey Borodovsky as ‘one of the most significant ever made in the region, came after bulldozers started digging at a construction site of the forth bridge across the Ob.
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It is the narrowest part of the mighty, wide Siberian river, the world’s seventh-longest, and was used as a crossing point by travellers in the deep past.
Likely the little dancer was left on the river bank as a sacrifice to water spirits to ensure a safe crossing.
Unique 2,000-year-old statuette of dancing man, ‘made in Northern India’, dug up in Siberia
Likely, too, that on its journey from India to Siberia it changed several hands.
So far nothing is known of how or when the bronze dancer came to be in the heart of Siberia.
‘The statuette’s alloy (62.1 per cent copper, 15.3 per cent tin, 15.2 per cent lead and 7.4 per cent zinc) is very different from modern bronze, and is the closest to antique bronzes.
‘The dancer is male, since there is no clearly-defined breast, and he is shown in a moment of an ecstatic or religious trance,’ explained Andrey Borodovsky, the only scientist who was allowed to see the statuette, and who ran a series of tests to verify its authenticity.
Currently the Indian dancer can only be seen on pictures and video, because its owner does not wish to share the discovery with the public.
Dr Borodovsky, who was reached by a middleman, said that negotiations to arrange the statuette to be passed to a museum so far were unsuccessful.
The dancing man is shown leaning right, with the statuette’s broken arms raised in the air and head tilted to the left and down, as if the sculptor tried to show a moment of the dancer twirling counter-clockwise, possibly during a whirling dance.
This could have been one of those ecstatic dances known in Oriental practice as a way for priests or worshippers to communicate with a deity.
Unique 2,000-year-old statuette of dancing man, likely made in Northern India, dug up in Siberia. Pictures: Vesti Novosibirsk, Andrey Borodovsky
The man was portrayed wearing a spacious shirt with draping over his shoulder, which could have been made from thin silk, a shirt-like hem and a long belt.
‘I see the tilt of the head as something similar to what Semazen dervishes did when they danced. They tilted heads to the left to put pressure on the carotid artery, which then led to them getting into a trance while whirling.
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The man also has a dot on the forehead, which we see in golden toreutics of Afghanistan,’ said Dr Borodovsky.
He believes that the dancer was most likely made in Northern India around 2,100 years ago, and that it was a part of a bigger composition, possibly a circular ritual table with several dancers placed along its edges.