Skip to Main Content

Shiva Bearing Aloft the Body of His Sati

c. 1890
Secondary Support: 48 x 29.1 cm (18 7/8 x 11 7/16 in.); Painting only: 45.6 x 27.8 cm (17 15/16 x 10 15/16 in.)
You can copy, modify, and distribute this work, all without asking permission. Learn more about CMA's Open Access Initiative.
Location: not on view

Download, Print and Share


This unusual image portrays Shiva holding aloft the corpse of his wife Sati with his trident. Sati immolated herself because of the hostility directed toward her husband Shiva by her father Daksha. The shadowy figure with blood emerging from the nose and heart is reminiscent of images of death (mrtu pat) found among the magic painter-minstrels (jada patua) of the Santal tribals of Bihar. The shadow is missing its right hand. In this connection, Shiva carried his wife until Vishnu cut the body into pieces that fell onto the earth and were made into shrines. The provocative title given to the piece when it was acquired was Shiva Bearing Aloft the Body of His Spouse Who Has Died in Childbirth. There is, however, no evidence of a myth concerning this theme, thus making this piece even more unusual.
Shiva Bearing Aloft the Body of His Sati

Shiva Bearing Aloft the Body of His Sati

c. 1890

Eastern India, Bengal, Kolkata, Kalighat

Visually Similar Artworks

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.