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    Indian Bronze Shiva as Bhikshatana

    South India
    19th century

    height: 9cm, width: 3.7cm, depth: 2.9cm, weight: 185g



    UK art market

    This small image cast in bronze shows Shiva in his Bhikshatana form, as a wandering beggar (‘Bhikshatana’ means literally wandering about for alms).

    Images of Bhikshatana are uncommon.

    Shiva is shown dressed relatively simply and with a walking staff and an alms bowl. He stands on a simple square platform – not the usual tiered, lotus-engraved dais reserved for deities, but one more befitting a begging mendicant.

    Bhikshatana is the form of Bhairava that Shiva assumes to atone for his sin of severing off Brahma’s fifth head. He wanders the universe in the form of a mendicant, begging for alms with a cup or bowl made from the Brahma’s fifth severed head. He does this until his sin is expiated upon reaching the holy city of Varanasi (Benares).

    Bhikshatana is a relatively popular deity in south India compared with the north.

    This image here is in fine condition and has a good, soft patina.

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