Enquiry about object: 8850

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    Indian Silvered Image of Shiva-Bhairava

    India, perhaps Karnataka
    18th century

    height: 15.6cm, width: 8.7cm, depth: 4.1cm, weight: 424g



    private collection, UK

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This good-sized image is of Shiva probably in Shiva’s Bhairava manifestation (it is likely that the image had more identifying detailing but much of it has been worn away through ritual handling.) In Shaivism, Bhairava is a powerful manifestation, or avatar, of Shiva associated with annihilation.

    The figure has been cast in high-grade and probably pure silver (silver was considered a ‘pure’ metal and thus appropriate for use in a ritual.) The base is of hollow silver but the image itself is of solid silver and so the overall item is surprisingly heavy in the hand.

    The figure holds a sword, a begging bowl, drums and other attributes.

    The base has three spherical objects to the figure’s left. It is likely that these are three skulls, emphasising Bhairava’s fearsome mature.

    A lingam-yoni sits atop the figure’s headdress.

    Overall, this is an unusual piece. It is rare to find images for personal devotion in silver of this size. The significant puja wear adds to the mystique, and also is not surprising given the softness of pure silver.


    Mitchell, A.G., Hindu Gods and Goddesses, UBSPD, 1982.

    Terlinden, C., Mughal Silver Magnificence, Antalga, 1987.

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