Title:Shiva’s Family (Uma-Maheshvara)Artist:Unknown Date:c. 1000Creation Place:Asia, India, Madhya PradeshCredit Line:The John R. Van Derlip FundAccession Number:97.36
This elaborate relief of Shiva, god of destruction, and his wife Parvati (Uma-Mahaeshvara) was likely set into the central niche on the exterior west wall of a Shiva temple. The husband and wife are seated on a lotus, the symbol of the universe, which in turn is supported by the bull Nandin, the vehicle of Shiva. The divine couple is shown in Shiva’s Himalayan house on Mount Kailasa. Calm and all-powerful, he grasps his trident and gently presses his right foot against the mountain to restrain the warriors of Ravana, the demon king of the underworld, shown in the lower register. Parvati holds a mirror in her left hand to reflect the glory of Shiva as well as her own beauty. Parvati’s left foot rests on her lion vehicle. To either side are Shiva’s offspring, Ganesha, the elephant-headed lord and master of obstacles and Skanda, the lord of war with his peacock. The family is surrounded by various attendants, celestial guardians, elephants and lion figures. At the top right and left sides are miniature temples containing manifestations of Shiva. This theme of the divine couple is arguably the archetypal icon of later Hindu period sculpture in north India.