Shiva and Parvati sculpture
Orissa, India, 13th century AD
This stone sculpture shows the powerful Hindu deity Shiva, with his consort Parvati, 'the daughter of the mountain', seated on his knee.
It may have been made for a shrine dedicated to Shiva at a temple in Kalinga, which is in the modern state of Orissa on the east coast of India.
Shiva is shown with four-arms. His left arms are behind Parvati’s back and up above her head, holding a trident which sticks upwards. This shows the active side of Shiva’s personality. In his far right hand – our left – he holds a rosary, showing his contemplative side. And with the other right hand he has a lotus flower.
The vehicles of the two deities, a bull and a lion, appear beneath their feet.
On the left hand side of the image is a carving of the donor of this sculpture and his wife is opposite him on the right. They are accompanied by their children and offer lotus buds to the deities in the centre.
Just as the donors have their children by their sides, so the children of Shiva and Parvati are shown by the small figure of Ganesh at the bottom. With his human body and elephant head, Ganesh is the god of good luck and good fortune in Indai. He is always invoked at the beginning of any important undertaking from starting a marriage to a business venture.
The modern state of Orissa is one of the areas of northern India where early religious architecture is still well preserved. Along with caves associated with the Buddhist and Jain religious traditions, there are numerous magnificent Hindu temples, which date from the seventh to the fourteenth century AD.
Bhubaneshwar is the modern capital of Orissa but is known as a temple city, and contains many religious buildings dating back to the medieval period.