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Shiva
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Shiva


Description Provenance Credit
Description Shiva stands firmly on his lotus pedestal, arching his back in a stance associated with power in the region of Kerala, on India’s southwestern coast, where this sculpture was made. In his upper hands, he holds a battle axe—to cut through illusion—and an antelope, which expresses his role as lord of creatures. The goddess Ganga, a personification of the sacred Ganges River, looks out through Shiva’s hair. When she came to earth from the heavens, she traveled through Shiva’s thickly matted dreadlocks, in order to ease the force of her descent into a gentle flow. Shiva also wears the crescent moon in his hair, a symbol of time, marked by the moon’s waxing and waning. The crescent moon also appears at the peak of the flaming aureole that surrounds the god, along with a five-headed serpent (only two heads remain intact). The snake may allude to the time when Shiva destroyed the deadly poison that threatened both heaven and earth. In Kerata, sculptures like this one are carried by priests seated on elephants during ritual processions in and around a temple's grounds.
Provenance John and Berthe Ford, Baltimore; given to Walters Art Museum, 1989.
Credit Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 1988

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Creator
Period
14th-15th century
Medium
copper alloy
(Metal)
Accession Number
54.2648
Measurements
Overall H: 11 15/16 × W: 6 5/16 × D: 4 15/16 in. (30.3 × 16 × 12.5 cm); Base only H: 1 13/16 × W: 4 15/16 × D: 4 15/16 in. (4.6 × 12.5 × 12.5 cm)
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