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Standing Parvati


Artwork Details

Standing Parvati
15th century - 16th century
14 13/16 in x 4 5/16 in x 3 3/4 in (37.7 cm x 11 cm x 9.5 cm);14 13/16 in x 4 5/16 in x 3 3/4 in (37.7 cm x 11 cm x 9.5 cm)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Leo S. Figiel and Dr. and Mrs. Steven J. Figiel


March 28, 2009
The form and attributes of an Indian image—its posture, gestures, and hand-held objects—provide a physical body for the deity that represents its essence. Within this context, stylistic variations might be viewed as a form of adornment, much like the real garments and jewelry that worshipers place upon bronzes taken out in ritual procession. The style expressed in these two bronzes is unique to the region of Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu, India’s southernmost state. Both figures are represented in a stiff, vertical pose with straight legs bound closely together. The pair’s symbolic features are reduced, yet they may be identified by Parvati’s skull cap, which refers to Shiva’s ascetic nature. Here, Shiva bears general weapons—two swords, a bow, and a shield—and is draped in a feast of jewelry laid out in rhythmic waves against his body’s elongated surface. Parvati is presented in a strict, unbending pose that echoes her partner’s vertical form. Though her jewelry is simple, great attention has been devoted to the weblike belt that falls from her waist to settle gracefully against the fishbone striations of her skirt.
(Label for UMMA South and Southeast Asia Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)

Subject Matter:

Unlike the elegant and courtly figures of Shiva and Parvati produced in northeast India six centuries earlier (also on view in the exhibition), these two figures bristle with a fierce energy. The style seen here is unique to the region of Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu, in the far south of the subcontinent. There are many such guardian figures with sword and shield found throughout the south in both metal and terracotta; this pair can be identified as Shiva and Parvati by Parvati’s small cup, probably a kapala or skull cup, which refers to Shaivite ascetic practices.
1978/2.116 the Shiva and 1978/2.127 the Parvati are a pair

Physical Description:

Parvati stands on a tiny base with little feet in a strict unbending stance. The body is elongated with a small waist, the hips billowing out and tapering in a stylized way to the feet. He has broad shoulders, pointy breasts that fall quite low in the chest and has two arms holding a bowl in her right one and a lotus flower in her left. She wears a d simple tight fitting skirt decorated with incised lines and a corded belt that falls down the center of her body with five rows of cords falling from the center and wrapping around her legs creating a fishbone pattern. She wears necklaces with added pendants on her shoulders and her coiffure is tied in a chignon on the right side at the back of her head wearing a headdress that has decorations that cascade down both shoulders. Like the accompanying Shiva figure she has large eyes and what appear to be two sets of eyebrows, but the tikka on her forehead is of a flame shape.

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