Detail View: The AMICA Library: Shiva and Parvati (Uma-Maheshvara)

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Creator Nationality: 
Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: 
Eastern Indian
Creator Name-CRT: 
Eastern Indian
Shiva and Parvati (Uma-Maheshvara)
Full view
Creation Date: 
Pala period, late 10th-11th century
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Copper alloy
Classification Term: 
Creation Place: 
India, Bihar or Bengal
H. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)
AMICA Contributor: 
Asia Society
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Asia Society: Gift from the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund
Although Buddhism was an important religion in the Pala kingdom, Hinduism was also practiced in eastern India. This small bronze sculpture depicting the god Shiva and his wife Parvati illustrate the stylistic similarities between Pala Hindu and Buddhist art. Shiva and Parvati are seated on a lotus pedestal placed above a high tiered base. They are accompanied by their two sons, the elephant-headed Ganesha seated to Parvati's left, and Karttikeya (also known as Skanda or Kumara) seated to Shiva's right. Shiva has four arms and is identified by the bull Nandi, the crescent moon in his hair, and the trident and skull that he holds in his back left hand. Parvati embraces Shiva with her right hand and holds a mirror in her left; her left foot rests on a lion, an attribute of the goddess. The detail of the garments, jewelry, and coiffures, along with the somewhat rigid poses, help date this work to the late 10th or 11th century.

Sculptures of this theme--which is commonly called Uma Maheshvara after two other names for Parvati and Shiva--emphasize the more benign and playful aspects of Shiva as well as his loving relationship with his wife and children. It is interesting that, as in this bronze, images of female donors are included in numerous Pala-period representations of this theme. Moreover, small bronze Shiva-Parvati images appear to have been more common than larger works in bronze or stone. Although little is known about the practice of Hinduism in eastern India during the Pala period, the predominance of female donors on small bronzes of this type suggest that the theme of Shiva and his family may have held some special significance for women and may have been a focus of private devotion rather than of temple worship.

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