Shiva, Parvati and their children on Mount Kailash, a drawing

From the Panjab Hills, India

Kangra style, Pahari, around AD 1800

At home in the Himalayas

Shiva is a complex figure, at once both a chaste and solitary ascetic, and a good husband with a wife and children. In this drawing Shiva is depicted in both of these apparently opposing aspects sitting in his mountain home in the Himalayas. Shiva sits naked beneath a tree with his long, matted ascetic's hair falling over his shoulders. A snake coils around his neck and another cobra-head pokes through the large earring in his left ear. Before him squats his wife Parvati pouring a drink into his cup. Behind them their six-headed son Skanda holds a saucer up to his peacock mount in the tree. Shiva and Parvati's mounts, the bull and the lion, lie down in the foreground. Between them sits the divine couple's other son, the elephant-headed Ganesha rubbing his stomach with delight at the cloth covered with sweets before him; these laddus are his special attribute.

This drawing is in the style associated with the small Rajput state of Kangra in the foothills of the Himalayas. The mythical home of Shiva on Mt. Kailash is in the same part of the Western Himalayas. The Pahari or 'Hill' school of painting and drawing flourished in the numerous small states in the foothills of the Himalayas between the late seventeenth and the nineteenth centuries. Hindu mythological subjects were particularly popular at these courts, as this drawing, and a painting of Varaha rescuing Bhu, also in the British Museum demonstrate.

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More information


M.C. Beach, Mughal and Rajput painting (Cambridge University Press, 1992)

T. R. Blurton, Hindu art (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Height: 204.000 mm
Width: 141.000 mm

Museum number

Asia OA 1914.2-17.011



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