Shiva and Mohini (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

18th century
Tamil Nadu, India
Overall: 24 1/4 × 20 × 4 in. (61.6 × 50.8 × 10.16 cm)
Many Hindu temples in South India own large wooden carts used to carry moveable images of the gods in procession on major festival days. The exteriors of these vehicles are covered with carved relief panels depicting a wide range of subjects, mostly either episodes from Hindu mythology or secular courtly scenes.

Probably from an angled bracket, this panel shows an encounter between the gods Shiva and Vishnu. The latter appears as the beguiling temptress named Mohini. Vishnu assumed this female form to defeat a demon that threatened the world order, and in the process also seduced Shiva. Here she presents him with the product of their tryst, a son named Harihara, a god who combines aspects of the two rival deities.
Gift of the Friends of Indian Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Dye, Joseph M. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. London: Philipp Wilson, 2001. (cat. no. 61, p. 172)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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