A Guardian of Shiva

A Guardian of Shiva

1200s

Chloritic schist

Overall: 113.3 x 49.2 x 29 cm (44 5/8 x 19 3/8 x 11 7/16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1964.369

Description

In Hindu temples dedicated to Shiva that were made in territories governed by rulers of the Hoysala dynasty (1026–1343), the entrance guardians appeared as a fierce form of the deity himself. In spite of his bulging eyes, arched brows, and fangs, the soft contours of the face temper the ferocity and create a gently alluring figure. This exceptional example of the ornate Hoysala style is four-armed and has the third eye of knowledge. In his upper right hand he holds a drum that indicates the relentless rhythm of time, which inevitably consumes all creation. In the other, he holds a staff at the top of which is the decomposing fifth head of the god of creation, Brahma, which Shiva cut off to show his superior power. A three-hooded cobra winds its way up the shaft, while another slithers through the sockets of the skull.

See also
Collection: 
Indian Art
Type of artwork: 
Sculpture

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