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Shiva as Ardhanarishvara

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Shiva as Ardhanarishvara
$595.00FREE Delivery
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Item Code: RV77
Specifications:
Brass Statue
26 inch X 12 inch X 9 inch
13.1 kg
An excellent piece of art synthesizing in one form not only the male and female physiognomies but also the two psyches, behavioral bearings of two classes and everything that distinguishes one from the other, this brass statue represents one of the Shiva’s earliest forms known in the tradition as ‘Shiva, the Ardhanarishvara’ : half male and half female. As is obvious, the statue’s right half with its robust build, leg’s forward thrust as in action, character of breast-part, subdued hip, broader shoulder in contrast to the left, all define masculine physiognomy. On the other hand, not merely in the modeling of breast, style of hair-dressing, normal anatomy of arms, voluminous hip, type of ornaments, or a slenderer leg clad elegantly from the waist down to ankle with a beautifully pleated ‘antariya’ – lower wear, embellished with laces of beads and frontal ornamental band, even in the posture of the figure, more particularly of the left leg and that of the hand carrying in it a lotus symbolising beauty, there reveals strange feminineness. This distinction is as much obvious in the iconography of two sides. The left half of the lamp-flame like mark on the forehead has been conceived like the auspicious ‘tilaka’ with which ladies generally adorn their foreheads while it looks like Shiva’s ‘tri-netra’ : third eye, when a concave vertical line brackets it on the right side. Not only the ear-ornaments on two halves are differently designed, even the left ear is differently cast. The left is normally shaped while that on the right has quite a tall ear-lobe reaching almost down to the shoulder. The downwards cast left eye reveals feminine grace while that on the right is in meditative trance. The left and right sides of the nose as well as neck are differently conceived, the former being endowed with a feminine touch, while the latter, masculine. The chin apart, the right and left cheeks too are differently modeled. The right with its flabbiness does not have the same quality of modeling as has the left.

With one additional arm, suggestive of four-armed anatomy, the right half of the statue is essentially the manifestation of Shiva. The style of hair on the right side, half knotted as ‘jata-juta’, and other half, unfurling like flames of fire, and the bell chained around the ankle of the right feet, are two of the essential aspects of the Shiva’s iconography in his Nataraja form.Besides a goad, the instrument of annihilation, carried in the upper hand, the gesture of his lower hand, suggestive of dissolution, which in the Great Trinity is Shiva’s cosmic role, are essentials of Shiva’s form. In contrast to fully clad left leg the right half is clad just in a loin-cloth made of plain tiger skin except for a bit of lace defining its edge. Correspondingly, the left half with feminine attributes is the manifestation of Shiva’s consort Parvati who is acclaimed in scriptures as Shiva’s ‘Vamanga’ : his left half.

As the Shaivite doctrine has it, Shiva, who manifests in his being the cosmos, or vice-versa, cosmos is whose mere manifestation, combines in him both male and female aspects of creation. This doctrine of the unity of cosmic existence which Shiva manifested in his Ardhanarishvara form was initially the Rig-Vedic perception acclaiming that : ‘what you describe to me as Male are in reality also Female.’ The existence is essentially composed of two sets of diverse elements, which Shiva as Sadashiva and Adipurusha blends in his form. Everyone born, but Shiva who is unborn, is either a male or a female; the Adipurusha Shiva, the Sadashiva, the ever present benevolent One, is the total, all that is masculine and all that is feminine. Western world’s inseparable unity of male and female seen in the form of Cupid and Psyche is the unity of the two in two forms. In Ardhanarishvara this unity is in one form. Unlike most of the Ardhanarishvara images in which male, that is Shiva, comprises their principal form, and female, secondary or less significant. Astonishingly, in this brilliant innovative form it is the female aspect that seems to dominate the figure’s totality, its anatomy, aesthetics and psyche.

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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