Shiva (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

10th-11th century
grey granite
Tamil Nadu, India
Overall: 55 × 22 1/2 × 11 1/2 in. (139.7 × 57.15 × 29.21 cm)
The great Hindu god Shiva - who often appears fearsome or formidable - is shown here with a gentle dignity. The tender smile on his boyish face and the gift-giving gesture of his lower right hand signal his benevolence. There is, however, no mistaking Shiva's superhuman power and authority. The trident and skullcap bowl in his rear hands, though held without menace, suggest the god's awesome potential. Bejeweled, crowned, and seated on a lotus throne, he is shown with the trappings of a king. The fly-whisks and parasol above him are also signs of his regal status. Carved from the hard grey granite typical of many South Indian sculptures, this majestic image would have been set within an architectural niche on the external wall of a Hindu temple or temple gateway.
Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection, Gift of Paul Mellon
Dye, Joseph M. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. London: Philipp Wilson, 2001. (cat. no. 55, p. 162)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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