Enquiry about object: 5996

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    Indian Hindu Stone Lingam (Svayambhu)

    North-eastern India, most probably the Brahmaputra Valley
    Age unknown

    length: 14.5cm, weight: 907g



    private collection, London.

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This stone lingam known or svayambhu lingam has a natural, elongated, egg shape, and a smooth, polished surface. The stone largely has a grey hue but with spots or flashes of red.

    Such stones are highly venerated and were known as ‘Eggs of Brahma’ are were created naturally by wear and erosion on flowing river beds – typically the Narmada River and associated tributaries. Most probably, they are then polished further by hand.

    Stood upright, these naturally occurring egg-like stones are considered representations of the Lingam of the phallus of Shiva, and are worshipped in place of the god, or indeed are seen as inhabited by Shiva and so during times of worship (puja) actually become Shiva. When laying down, such stones are considered Cosmic Eggs’

    The aquatic origin of svayambhu linga is very significant in Hinduism: all creation stems from ‘the waters’. Examples with natural red flashes such as the example here, which contrasts with the y grey, are thought to represent the ‘first stirrings of differentiation which appear within the Great Whole of the Self-Originated-Lingam-World-Egg’ (Rawson, 1971, p. 114).

    Determining the age of svayambhu linga is largely impossible, particularly as genuine examples were not made by humans but found, and were the product of thousands of years or erosion activity.

    Similar examples are illustrated in Michell (1982, p. 95) and Rawson (1981, p. 114).

    The example here is in excellent condition.


    Michell, G., et alIn the Image of Man: The Indian Perception of the Universe through 2000 Years of Painting and Sculpture, Arts Council of Great Britain, 1982.

    Rawson, P., Tantra, Arts Council of Great Britain, 1971.

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