The God Shiva, His Consort Parvati, and a Musician
Rajput School (1500-1899)
7 1/2 x 10 5/8 in. (19.1 x 27 cm)
Medium and Support:
Opaque watercolor, ink, gold and silver paint on paper
Gift of Helen H. Reiff in memory of Robert F. Reiff
Location: Not currently on view
Shiva as the divine ascetic and the embodiment of the creative-destructive force can be identified by many attributes, each having symbolic value. He wears a tiger/leopard skin wrap (he has conquered pride), snakes coil around his hair, neck, and arms (cosmic energy, regeneration), he holds an axe (destruction) and a deer (regeneration, control of man's unsteady mind). His matted hair contains the crescent moon (time), from the top of his head flows the river Ganga (fertility), and he has a third eye in the center of his forehead (wisdom).
Shiva's consort or female half, Parvati, shown in quite elaborate dress, sits next to him as a musician entertains them. The white bull in the lower corner is Nandi, Shiva's vahana or vehicle, who, in India, is often worshiped in Shiva's place.