Face of Shiva Mohra
Processional image

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Geography:
Made in Himachal Pradesh, Chamba, India, Asia

Date:
c. 9th century

Medium:
Copper alloy

Dimensions:
11 3/8 × 9 1/2 × 3 1/4 inches (28.9 × 24.1 × 8.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

* Gallery 48, Modern and Contemporary Art, ground floor

Accession Number:
1980-99-1

Credit Line:
Gift of the Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1980

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art Handbook (2014 Edition)

    Languid eyes and sensuous lips belie Shiva’s character as a great ascetic in this compelling vision of the Hindu deity. Yet his third eye and dreadlocks, cinched with a cobra and ornamented with a crescent moon, reveal his identity. In the Kullu Valley region of northern India, each village has a local deity, often, as here, a form of a Hindu god. Multiple representations of the deity are kept in the village temple as plaque-like metal busts called mohras, of which this mesmerizing example is among the oldest and finest known. At festival times, a group of mohras are mounted on a palanquin and hung with bright fabrics and garlands. Accompanied by priests, musicians, and dancers, villagers carry their god along mountain paths to trading centers where they can mingle and celebrate. Darielle Mason, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2014, p. 10.

  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Groups of gleaming images such as this were--and still are--taken out of Hindu temples in India and carried in processions during religious festivals. Cast as a kind of brass plaque, this image represents Shiva, the Great God. His young, round, firm face is charged with energy; with full lips, strong, sensitive nose, and wide-open, commanding, demanding eyes (perhaps once inlaid with silver), he gazes from a depth of inner awareness far beyond the world that the nose scents and the mouth relishes. Shiva's third eye boldly cuts across the forehead; in his shaggy hair trimly fitting the dome of the head, a sleek serpent holds his crown of matted hair, an indication of the god's asceticism, while above is the crescent moon, his symbol. The strands of hair are engraved with lines flowing in rapid waves, many rubbed off by frequent worshipful touching over the years. Stella Kramrisch, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 50.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.