Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Somaskanda (Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore)



This “Somaskanda” depicts Shiva with his wife and infant son, Skanda as a family unit. Somaskanda in Sanskrit literally means “with Uma and Skanda” and originated in the 4th or 5th century as a counter to sects advocating celibacy as the way to salvation.

This representation shows Shiva with four arms with Uma and between them, the infant Skanda is shown as dancing with ecstasy. This bronze example was made to be carried in festival processions. The bronze loops on the base were attached to poles so the sculpture could be carried in the festival.

This Indian art imagery is only found in the south of India. Somaskanda is the most popular image of Shiva in southern India in addition to the Linga, being his abstract representation.

Highlights of the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore


  • Title:                 Somaskanda
  • Dates:               1200
  • Period:             Late Chola
  • Provenience:  Tamil Nadu, India
  • Materials:        Bronze
  • Dimensions:   H: 54.9 cm (Shiva), 51.4 cm (Parvati)
  • Museum:        Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore


“A beautiful woman belongs to everyone; an ugly one is yours alone.” Indian Proverb


Photo Credit: JOM