Unusually Large Silver Lingam Cover (Mukhalinga)
height: 32.5cm, weight: 1,135g
This monumental and fine lingam cover of high-grade, solid silver depicts Shiva as a warrior. Probably it is 19th century but it is possibly earlier. A brass example published in Aryan, Aryan & Ross (2011, ill. 18) has similar facial characteristics and is ascribed to the 19th century.
The figure has an expressive face with clear, prominent features, including large almond eyes (and a third eye on the forehead), a prominent nose and a fine moustache over thin, but protruding lips.
He wears a high and elaborate tiered crown surmounted by a domed knop and decorated in repousse with scrolling foliage and floral designs.
He wears silver cobra earrings in his earlobes and adjacent winged ear ornaments. The back of his head is etched with copious hair strands.
A lengthy, presumably dedicatory, inscription of two lines in Devanagari script is beneath the hairline on the back of the neck.
lingam cover would have been placed over the lingam between periods of puja worship. Traditionally, Hindus regarded silver as a ritually ‘pure’ metal.
An example in silver of similar age and size currently is displayed in the British Museum (see the photograph below).
The example here is in excellent condition and is without repairs or losses.
Aryan, S., B.N. Aryan & G. Rossi, Mukhalinga, Ethnoarte, 2011.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 2605
A related silver example of similar proportions and age currently displayed in the British Museum.