In an exuberant dance posture with eight arms, Shiva is shown here in his wrathful aspect, with disheveled hair, bulging eyes, and fangs. He has just successfully flayed the skin of an elephant demon and triumphantly stretches it out behind him, its two hind feet sticking up at the right corner of the panel. The elephant in rut, in its demonic form, was used as a metaphor for uncontrolled passions that Shiva helps to conquer in the mind of the devotee, so that the devotee can better focus his attentions on the god himself. In the lower left corner, a dwarfish member of Shiva's entourage beats the rhythm of the dance on his drum. His wife, the goddess Parvati, looks on with admiration.
Shiva as Slayer of the Elephant Demon
South India, Tamil Nadu, early Chola Period, 11th century
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