Trident with Shiva as Half-Woman (Ardhanarishvara)

Trident with Shiva as Half-Woman (Ardhanarishvara)

c. 1050


Overall: 39.6 cm (15 9/16 in.)

Weight: 4.99 kg (11 lbs.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1969.117


The form of the trident—the main weapon of the Hindu god Shiva—dramatically and elegantly encircles his form in which the left side is female and the right side is male. The male side has the matted locks of a yogi piled high on his head; he holds an ax and leans on his mount, the bull. The female side has a jeweled crown, earring, full breast, broad hips, long skirt, and only one arm. The lower hands probably held a stringed instrument. This particular iconic form of Shiva visually indicates that he embodies all phenomena, even if they seem contradictory. He is male and female, destructive and creative, yogi and royal sovereign, hunter and musician.


Deciphering the Imagery
Who Is Shiva?
Duality of Existence
See also
Indian Art
Type of artwork: 

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