Inventory no.: 747

Shiva – Sadashiva bronze, India


Highly Unusual Sadashiva

Karnataka, India

17th-18th century

height: 19.3cm, width: 14.2cm, weight: 2.53kg.

This rare representation of Shiva, formerly in the Shri K.C. Aryan collection and published in a book on that collection, is known as the Sadashiva in the iconographic texts. It shows Shiva with five heads (panchanana – ‘pancha’ means five) each surmounted by tall crowns. The legs and forearms are massive and present a sharp contrast with the slimmer faces and four sets of tubular side arms (one side arm is missing.)

The semi-circular arch of the prabhavali encloses the five heads. The heads correspond to the four diamond and one circular motifs on the front of the high pedestal.

The arms hold various attributes. There is ample jewellery cast onto the prominent chest. Moon and star symbols are on the five foreheads and on the crest of the prabhavali. A shield is held in the left front forearm; it is in the ‘cross and dot’ style of southern India.

The image has been cast in white brass. It is solid cast except for the pedestal. As such, it is heavy for its size.

The late K.C. Aryan, from whose collection this image has come, founded the Museum of Folk, Tribal & Neglected Art near New Delhi.

Sadashiva images with five heads are few. There is a sixth century seven-metre high Sadashiva carved from the rock face in the cave temple of Shiva on Elephanta Island, near Mumbai (Bombay). However, the Elephanta example has three obvious heads only.

Overall, this is a rare opportunity to acquire a relatively early Southern Indian folk bronze of ample size that is published and rare in its subject matter.


K.C. Aryan Collection, Museum of Folk, Tribal & Neglected Art.


Aryan, K.C., Indian Folk Bronzes, Rekha Prakshan, 1991, fig. 70.

Inventory no.: 747



Aryan, K.C., Indian Folk Bronzes, Rekha Prakshan, 1991.

The bronze offered here is illustrated on the far left.