Stone figure of the war-god Skanda

From eastern India, 8th-9th century AD

The war-god riding a peacock

Shiva and Parvati have two children: the elephant-headed Ganesha and the young war-god, Skanda. He is also known by the names Kumara, Subramanya and Murukan. Another name, Karttikeya, relates to the myth that he was brought up by the six Krittikas, the constellation known in the West as the Pleiades. In this form he appears with six heads. Like the cult of Shiva, the worship of Skanda is probably an amalgam of many different cults around 1500 years ago,

Skanda is always depicted as a young man. Here he holds a spear with a tiger-claw necklace around his neck. His hair is divided into three strands, characteristic of boyhood. Skanda's vehicle or vahana is the peacock. The peacock's fanned tail-feathers cover the rear of this stone stele.

Skanda was a popular deity in northern India until the eighth or ninth century when this image was made. Although his cult declined in the north after this date, it has retained its popularity in the south, where Skanda is identified with the earlier Tamil deity Murukan.

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More information

Bibliography

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

Dimensions

Height: 23.000 inches

Museum number

Asia OA 1872.7-1.66

RRI849

Bridge Collection

Location

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