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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 colour of the bull symbolizes purity and justice and the humped bull symbolizes strength, virility and fertility as well as religious and moral duties.


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


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


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

– Bhagavad Gita


Photo Credit: 1) JOM