Detail View: The AMICA Library: Shiva and Parvati (Uma-Maheshvara)

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Creator Nationality: 
Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: 
Eastern Indian
Creator Name-CRT: 
Eastern Indian
Shiva and Parvati (Uma-Maheshvara)
Full view
Creation Date: 
Pala period, 9th century
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Copper alloy
Creation Place: 
H. 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm)
AMICA Contributor: 
Asia Society
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
From the 8th to 12th centuries, Bihar and Bengal--present-day West Bengal state and the nation of Bangladesh--were primarily under the control of the Pala family. Although Buddhism was an important religion in the Pala kingdom, Hinduism was also practiced in eastern India. This small bronze sculpture depicting the god Shiva and his wife Parvati illustrate the stylistic similarities between Pala Hindu and Buddhist art. Shiva and Parvati are seated on a soft cushion above a rectangular base that is probably intended to represent their heavenly home on Mount Kailasa. They are framed by a flaming halo. Shiva is identified by his vehicle, the bull Nandi, the crescent moon in his headdress, the tiger skin around his thighs, and by the trident encircled by a snake placed to his right. Parvati, who embraces Shiva with her right hand and holds a mirror in her left, is identified by her vehicle, the lion. The kneeling woman on the base represents either a generic devotee or the donor.

Sculptures of this theme--which is commonly called Uma-Maheshvara after the two other names for Parvati and Shiva--emphasize the more benign and playful aspects of Shiva as well as his loving relationship with his wife and children. It is interesting that, as in this bronze, images of female donors are included in numerous Pala-period representations of this theme. Moreover, small bronze Shiva-Parvati images appear to have been more common than larger works in bronze or stone. Although little is known about the practice of Hinduism in eastern India during the Pala period, the predominance of female donors on small bronzes of this type suggest that the theme of Shiva and his family may have held some special significance for women and may have been a focus of private devotion rather than of temple worship.

Related Document Description: 
Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 12.
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