Of the many Shiva themes depicted
in Nepalese sculpture, most popular is that of the divine couple
Shiva and Parvati. Noticeable in this sculpture are their worn
foreheads and remnants of vermillion coloring that indicate
this bronze was used as a domestic shrine object for generations.
It is common practice in Nepal, as in India, to anoint the images
daily with vermillion. Shiva occupies much of the marriage set,
sitting in a relaxed and playful posture (lalitasana),
the pleats of his wrapped skirt (dhoti) draping over
the base. His two upper hands, now empty, would have held a
trident and string of prayer beads. His primary right hand performs
the gesture of fearlessness (abhayamudra) and the corresponding
left hand supports the separately cast figure of Parvati. Adorned
much like her husband, but without the single emblematic skull
earring and crescent moon, Parvati sits on Shiva’s left
thigh with her right leg pendent and her left folded across
her right thigh. Her left hand gently rests on the knee and
she sits back relaxed, passing an adoring glance at her partner.
Despite the divinity of the subjects, the theme of this work
is essentially human in flavor and is cast by Newar artists
with much love and intimacy.