Jun 7, 2006
Jun 8, 2006

A Guardian of Shiva

A Guardian of Shiva


Chloritic schist

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

Weight: approx. 600 lbs.

John L. Severance Fund 1964.369



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
Indian Art
Type of artwork: 

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