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The Family of Shiva (Umamaheshvara)

The Family of Shiva

This sculptured stele shows “The Family of Shiva” also called “Umamaheshvara” which is the name for a depiction of the Hindu god Shiva and his wife Uma also called Parvati. They are shown tenderly holding each other while a chaotic scene unfolds below. The style of this sculpture is typical of the post-Gupta period in northern India.

This narrative setting shows Shiva seated with one leg raised in in a style called “the position of royal ease”. His wife Parvati sits on his knee and they flanked by their sons, Ganesha and Skanda, as well a by Nandi, the bull that carries Shiva, the sage Bhringi plus attendant figures.

They are all on Mount Kailasha, which the demon Ravana is attempting to shake from under them, in an attempt to take the mountain to his kingdom Lanka. The narrative shows the power of Shiva who holds down the mountain with his toes. As he pins down Ravana, Ravana acknowledges Shiva as lord and Shiva in his forgiving grace presents Ravana with a sword as a sign of forgiveness.

Other South Asia and Islamic world highlights from the collection include:

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                 The Family of Shiva
  • Dates:               9th Century
  • Provenience:   North India
  • Materials:        Sandstone
  • Dimensions:    91.1cm
  • Museum:         Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

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

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Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons