Indian Pink Sandstone Figure of a Deity (Possibly Shiva)
Central India, 11th/12th century 
Pink Sandstone
22 inches, 25 inches on base

 

In the Hindu pantheon Shiva is one of the most important gods along with Brahma and Vishnu. They are considered members of the holy trinity (trimurti) of Hinduism, though Shiva is also considered as the God of Gods. His existence represents infinity itself. He is the supreme masculine divinity in this universe and is second to none in wrath and power. 

 

A complex character, he may represent goodness, benevolence and serve as the Protector. He is also associated with Time, and particularly as the destroyer of all things. Nevertheless, Shiva is also associated with creation. In Hinduism, the universe is thought to regenerate in cycles (every 2,160,000,000 years). Shiva is the destroyer of the universe so that from the formless void, it may be created again. Shiva is also known as the great ascetic, abstaining from all forms of indulgence and pleasure, concentrating rather on meditation as a means to find perfect happiness. Shiva is also the master of fertility as well as the master of poison and medicine and he is the Lord of Cattle.  

 

For centuries devotees and scholars have romanticized the image of Lord Shiva. He can be depicted with his body smeared with ash, wearing a tiger skin with crescent moon in his hair. He may have a snake around his neck and a third eye; the river Ganga flowing from the matted hair with, a trident in one hand, a hand-drum in the other. Sometimes he is consumed in a cosmic dance and sometimes he is sitting still as a stone. Along with these different manifestations, there are also 1008 names of God Shiva to describe his attributes.

 

This figure at one point would have four arms which represent the four cardinal directions. 
 

Indian Pink Sandstone Figure of a Deity, Central India, 11th/12th Century