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Nandi – Figure of the Humped Bull of Śiva

Nandi - Figure of the Humped Bull of Śiva - British Museum - Joy of Museums

Nandi – Figure of the Humped Bull of Śiva

This white granite figure of Nandi, the humped bull mount of Śiva, is garlanded and decorated with bells. In the southern Indian tradition, he is shown seated with his legs tucked beneath him, and the body is foreshortened in comparison with the head and front parts. Nandi (‘rejoicing’) is the name of the gate-guardian deity of the abode of Lord Shiva. He is usually depicted as a bull, which also serves as the mount to the god Shiva. 

Shiva is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is the Supreme Being within Shaivism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism. The worship of Shiva and Nandi can be traced to the time of the Indus Valley Civilization (3,300–1,300 BCE) period, and his crouching image today is often housed at a Shiva temple entrance. The white color of the bull symbolizes purity and justice, and the humped bull symbolizes strength, virility, and fertility, as well as religious and moral duties.

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Nandi – Figure of the Humped Bull of Siva

  • Title:                Nandi – Figure of the Humped Bull of Śiva
  • Date:               16th Century
  • Findspot:         India
  • Materials:        Granite
  • Culture:           Vijayanagara period
  • Dimensions:    H: 86 cm; W: 96 cm; D: 61 cm; W: 613 kg
  • Museum:        The British Museum

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Reflections

  • Why was the body of the Nandi foreshortened in comparison with the head?

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“You are what you believe in.
You become that which you believe you can become.”

– Bhagavad Gita

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Photo Credit: 1) JOM 

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