1992

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Carved Indian Black Basalt Stele of Shiva, Pavati & Nandi

Madhya Pradesh, North India
circa 9th-10th century

height: 9cm, length: 8.5cm, thickness: 3.5cm

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Provenance

UK private collection/UK art market

This group carved in black basalt depicts Shiva, his consort Parvati (also known as Uma) and Shiva’s celestial vehicle Nandi, within a double arched and chiselled aureole. Possibly, other deities are (or were) shown but have become obscured by the loss and wear to the stele, wear that seems both environmental and puja (prayer or ritual) related.

Shiva sits in lalitasana with Parvati (Uma) seated on his left thigh with her right arm around Shiva’s neck. Her other arm now is largely lost but probably held a mirror. Both Shiva and Parvati have unusually tall matted hair crowns (jata-mukuta). A sandstone stele in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, also attributed to Madhya Pradesh but to the early eleventh century shows this group in this configuration and with Shiva with a particularly tall jata-mukuta (see Harle & Topsfield, 1987, p. 37.) The pair sit over Nandi, who sits on his folded legs.

The stele has a superb patina. There are obvious age-related losses. The contours of the stele and the breasts and foreheads of the main figures in the group have attained smoothness and polish from devotional handling.

References

Harle, J.C. & A. Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum, Ashmolean Museum, 1987.

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