4. Shiva Chandrashekhara
India, Tamil Nadu
Chola, 12th century
Bronze, cast in the lost wax method
height 32 cm.
Although Shiva, the third member of the Hindu trimurti, is often represented as the destroyer, this manifestation expresses the quality of rajas, the basis for the active principle in creation, and is the most affable representation of him.
‘Chandrashekhara’ literally means to have the moon (chandra) as a head ornament (shekhara). In this finely cast sculpture the crescent moon decorates the left-hand side of Shiva’s high-piled jatamukuta. He stands firmly in samabhanga, with both legs straight. Smiling amiably, he raises his right hand in abhayamudra, the ‘fear not’ gesture, and holds an axe and a leaping deer, which derive from his former manifestation as Rudra, the hunter.
The sense of restrained power in his chest and shoulders is reinforced by his narrow waist and the udarabhanda he wears around it. Set in his left ear is the patrakundala or circular earring, indicative of his affable nature. His other adornments include a number of necklaces, the sacred thread, a girdle with a clasp in the shape of a lion’s head, loops of ribbon at the hips, armbands, bracelets, finger rings and anklets.
Shiva stands on a circular lotus throne mounted on a square base whose two vertical pins would originally have supported an aureole. This superb temple sculpture exemplifies the highest quality of bronze casting in the Chola period.
Private collection, Belgium.
J. E. van Lohuizen-de Leeuw, Indian Sculptures in the von der Heydt Collection, Museum Rietberg, Zurich, 1964, pp. 202-205, fig. 44.
C. Sivaramamurti, South Indian Bronzes, Bombay, 1981, fig. 61 b.
A. Okada, Sculptures Indiennes Du Musée Guimet, Trésors du Musée Guimet, Paris, 2000, p. 214, fig. 82.
J. Van Alphen, Cast For Eternity, Bronze Masterworks from India and the Himalayas in Belgian and Dutch Collections, Ethnographic Museum, Antwerp, 2005, p. 57, fig. 7.
Art Loss Register Certificate, Reference: S00064708.