Sandstone stele of Lakulisha

From Central India, around AD 700

An aspect of Shiva

The stele shows Lakulisha, an aspect of the Hindu god Shiva standing on the vanquished dwarf of ignorance, Apasmara, and flanked by two diminutive figures.

Shiva fulfils the role of the destroyer in the Hindu trinity. Here we can see some of the god's more common and characteristic features: the all-seeing third eye symbolic of his superior powers, the erect phallus indicating his omnipotent and creative nature, and Apasmara, a symbol of illusion, ignorance and ego. Shiva holds a bead in a rosary in his right hand, to symbolize his ascetic nature, and a spear, symbolic of his power. Shiva's more common attribute, the trident, is personified here by the two male figures that flank the central image. Both figures, with their hands clasped respectfully before the god, have tridents above their heads.

Stylistically, the rounded face pronounced lower lip, wig-like hairstyles, clinging garments and inflated chest remind us of its Gupta inheritance. Yet its stylization, lengthened legs, square jaw and raised eyebrows serve as a precursor to the developed Central Indian style as seen under the Chandella dynasty in the tenth century.

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Height: 88.900 inches

Museum number

Asia OA 1968.12-16.2


Brooke Sewell Fund


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