Stone relief of Umamaheshvara

From Nepal
12th-13th century AD

Shiva and Parvati in their mountain home

The Hindu god Shiva relaxes in his mountain home, with his consort Parvati ('the daughter of the mountain') reclining against him. The multi-armed Shiva is identified by his characteristic weapon, the three-pronged trident. The bull-mount of Shiva, Nandi, sits on his right. These divine figures are attended by a number of smaller figures, one holding a parasol to shade them from the sun and another a fly-whisk to keep off insects. At the base of the relief is their elephant-headed son, Ganesha, with the ganas, or dwarf-attendants, of Shiva alongside him.

This form of Shiva is particularly favoured in Nepali art from the tenth or eleventh century onward, reflecting the growing strength of Shiva's cult in this period. It is known as Umamaheshvara, from Maheshvara ('Great Lord') with Uma, another name for Parvati, his consort.

Both Hindu and Buddhist culture exist alongside each other in Nepal. Buddhism and Hinduism were both present in the Kathmandu Valley from the fourth century AD. Buddhism died out in India in around 1200, but survived alongside Hinduism in Nepal. To the north, Tibet has been primarily Buddhist since the ninth or tenth centuries. The subject-matter of this sculpture reflects Nepali connections with Hindu India, but the high-relief style of this image is typical of Nepali interpretations of the Hindu myth.

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More information

Bibliography

M. Hutt, Nepal: a guide to the art and (Kiscadale Ltd., Stirling, 1994)

Dimensions

Museum number

Asia OA 1970.7-20.1

RRI10583

Brooke Sewell Fund

Location

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