Shiva and Parvati (Uma-Mahesvara)
Unknown artist, Indian
Shiva and Parvati (Uma-Mahesvara), 10th-11th century
64 x 41 x 25.5 cm (25 3/16 x 16 1/8 x 10 1/16 inches)
Corporation Membership Fund 63.049
The Uma-Mahesvara is a depiction of the great Hindu god Shiva in an affectionate mode. He holds his wife Uma (also called Parvati) on his left knee, and Nandi, the bull that is the deity’s ‘vehicle,’ rests below them. To Nandi’s right is Ganesha, the couple’s elephant-headed son, and to the left is their other son, Kartikeya. Shiva, the creator and destroyer, is portrayed here in the benign mode in which he grants blessings. Made for a temple exterior, perhaps as part of a frieze, this sculpture was meant to be viewed from the right and below as devotees circled the building. Beautifully fashioned and gracefully sensual, it conveys a sense of the complex sculptural programs of classic Hindu temples in India.