Shani, the most energetic of all the nine planets that command the twelve zodiac divisions, works wonders both ways but is guided more by its corrosive nature and hence its adverse effects are more pronounced. In texts the mound of gold is said to be Shani's abode but its eye is always downcast looking below into darkness. Its ways are obscure, designs intricate and effects devastating. It devours whatever comes its way and believes in undoing. In a period of thirty months Shani accomplishes its round of the earth and thus its visits across every zodiac division are more frequent and consequently as severer its impact. Shani is said to ride an iron cart which by over-use needs frequent lubricating. Hence, in offerings made to it Shani prefers oil. Shani is basically an inauspicious planet tremendously harming its subjects when passing through its mean phase but uplifting them as much in its positive phase. Alike, Shani, once appeased by worship, endows with unprecedented bliss.
This rocket type designed head of Shani is highly symbolic. It has an upward thrust and when shooting, it goes on piercing by its pointed horns all that comes its way. Incidentally, it consists of three 'trishulas', or the tridents - an inverted one on its top, another one created by its horns and the third one suspending from his neck, that is, Shani hits its target, in simultaneity, at three points affecting 'three pains', the 'shulas'. Threaded and intricately textured head defines the character, method and ways of Shani and the dark recesses set within its links with darkness. This texture symbolises that its mind is Evil's abode. The brilliance on its face suggests that it draws its power from sun. It has excessively protruded eyes, which depict its wrathful temperament.
Mythologically Shani was one of the three sons of Martanda, or Surya by Chhaya, or Darkness. He had genesis of both, Sun and Darkness. One gave him brilliance and energy and the other an ill mind discovering delight in others' misery. He hence harassed all, even his own brothers. Finally to get rid of him Surya allocated to him a place amongst planets. He appeased Shiva who nominated him as planets' chief and commanded him to grant happiness and prosperity to them who worshipped him. Numerous legends are attributed to Shani. One related to Dasharatha is more popular. Shani grabbed Rohini which caused great famine in Ayodhya. For its release Dasharatha attacked Shani but got defeated by him. He then worshipped and appeased Shani.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.