The God Shiva
Artist/maker unknown, Indian
Seated on a double lotus pedestal, this image of the god Shiva would have been one of many sculptures placed in narrow niches on the exterior walls of a temple. The figure can be recognized as Shiva by certain identifying characteristics: a vertical third eye in his forehead, the piled hair-crown (representing the matted locks of an ascetic who neglects the care of his body), and the trident held in his upper left hand. Behind the figure are symbols of royal-divinity carved in shallow relief - two fly whisks to either side and an umbrella projecting above his head. The smooth oval face, use of low relief, and simplicity of the figure typify the stone sculpture created under the early Chola rulers of southern India and their neighbors.