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Paintings > Folk Art > Mukha-Linga: Linga with a Face (Illustration to the Shiva Purana)
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Mukha-Linga: Linga with a Face (Illustration to the Shiva Purana)

Mukha-Linga: Linga with a Face (Illustration to the Shiva Purana)

Mukha-Linga: Linga with a Face (Illustration to the Shiva Purana)

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Water Color Painting on Patti Paper
Folk Art From The Temple Town Puri (Orissa)
Artist: Rabi Behera

12 inches X 18 inches
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Mukha-Linga: Linga with a Face (Illustration to the Shiva Purana)

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Viewed 10736 times since 8th Jul, 2010
This painting, a pata-chitra of highly decorative kind, portraying also Shiva's anthropomorphism, at least a face, while representing his Linga-form, seems to sum up the Shiva Maha Purana which perceives 'Lingopasana' - worship of Linga, as the crux of Shaivite worship cult. Whatever the individual or random legends or study of other gods, and divine or celestial beings, the Shiva Maha Purana perceives Shiva essentially as Linga, Shiva in his 'Nirakara' - formless aspect, and it is in this Nirakara aspect that he is Para-Brahma, the Timeless One, the Cosmic Egg and the Mother of all forms. The Shiva Maha Purana emphasises that Shiva is both Linga - 'Nirakara', and Ber - 'Sakara', having a form, but while in his Ber aspect Shiva appears for the time being, for an event or exploit - which is essentially timed, Linga is perpetuity, an entity beyond the perishable form and beyond time which is spanned.

The Shiva Maha Purana seems to assert that even Shiva's anthropomorphism is an aspect of Linga. For many of his exploits, it is from the Linga that Shiva's Ber aspect emerges. Shiva's timelessness and formlessness are attributes of Linga. An anthropomorphic form has a face and a back, Linga is only a face, each of the four sides, as also its apex, is a face. Hence Sadashiva, Ananta-Shiva - Shiva the Timeless, perceived as five-faced in iconic vision, is only the Linga. The Shiva Maha Purana talks at great length of Shiva's twelve Linga-incarnations, five Pancha Bhuta Lingas, devotes a chapter, or even two, on each of the twelve Jyotirlingas, alludes to all significant Shiva-devotees who installed Lingas and worshipped them, describes all major Shiva-lingas and all their types, and refers to all important Linga-shrines. With these and many other similar aspects the Shiva Maha Purana connotes that in Shaivism - its metaphysics or worship cult, Linga is the ultimate.

This folio represents Shiva's face as Linga. The face has bold features - powerful eyes, eye-brows, moustaches and beard and a well defined nose and mouth, however, its Linga appearance is far stronger. In seed form, it seems to be an 'Anda' Linga, symbolising universe, one of six Linga forms as texts have classified them, the other classes of Lingas being Pinda Linga, Sadashiva Linga, Atma Linga, Jnana Linga, and Shiva Linga. Over this Linga form rise coils of Shiva's coiffure which crescent and Ganga enshrine, somewhat disturbing the Linga equation. However, in conceiving the form of Prabhavali - fire-arch, under which the Linga has been consecrated, by giving it repeatedly a Linga form, primarily in the inner moulding, and in the outer, the painting reiterates that the Linga alone is the ultimate.

Image-wise, the Linga-deity has been installed on a multi-tiered high pedestal conceived in the form of receding steps. On the base step are installed lights - two tall lamps with multiple wicks, and also a smaller one towards the right side. On the step above it or rather on the pedestal's top are laid two large bowls with high stands containing incense and other ritual material. The Linga is installed on this level towards the inner side close to Prabhavali which rises from the pedestal's back. It has on its upper edge a course of stylised floral design and on its top a Kirtimukha motif. There is on the right side of the Linga the image of a serpent, and on its left, a four-armed goddess carrying sword, shield, noose and trident.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

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