Once upon a time as Shiva sat on the Himalayas, engaged in austerities, Uma, attended by her companions, and dressed as an ascetic, came behind him and playfully put her hands over his eyes. The effect was tremendous. Suddenly the world became dark, lifeless and destitute of oblations. The gloom, however, is as suddenly dispelled. A great flame burst forth from Mahadeva's forehead, in which a third eye, luminous as the sun was formed. By fire from this eye the mountain was scorched, and everything upon it consumed.
The god is shown wearing an antelope-skin loincloth, and seated on a tiger skin. A snake coils around his neck and the holy river Ganga flows from his head. In addition Shiva's hair has the following characteristics:
1). jatamukuta: The formalized knot of matted hair, symbolizing store up ascetic power.
2). chandra: The crescent moon, symbol of creation.
Another distinguishing feature is the characteristic mark or tilaka on Shiva's forehead. This is the typical Shaivite Tripundra tilak. It is composed of three horizontal lines, drawn above the two eyebrows. This symbolizes the three gunas or intentions of man, that is, Rajas (passion), Sattva (truth or purity) and Tamas (darkness or disintegration)".
This description by Nitin Kumar, Executive Editor, Exotic India.
Chatterjee, Gautam. Sacred Hindu Symbols: New Delhi, Abhinav Publications, 2001.
Gupta, Shakti M. Shiva: Bombay, Somaiya Publications, 1993.
Jansen, Eva Rudy. The Book of Hindu Imagery, The Gods and their symbols: Holland, Binkey Kok Publishers, 1998.
Mitchell A.G. Hindu Gods and Goddesses: New Delhi, UBS Publishers, 1998.
Wilkins, W.J. Hindu Mythology: New Delhi, Rupa and Co., 1986.