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One-faced linga
Place of Origin: India, Madhya Pradesh state
Date: approx. 400-450
Materials: Sandstone
Dimensions: H. 58 in x W. 10 in x D. 14 1/2 in, H. 147.3 cm x W. 25.4 cm x D. 36.8 cm
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Sculpture
Object Number: B69S15
On Display: Yes
Location: Gallery 1

Description

Label:

Temples devoted to the Hindu god Shiva often contain in their innermost sanctums a linga, or phallic emblem of this deity. A highly complex symbol, the linga represents the generative powers associated with Shiva. While most linga are plain in appearance, some—like this example—depict the face of Shiva. It includes other recognizable emblems of Shiva: matted hair (representing his asceticism and detachment from worldly concerns), the crescent moon in his hair (sometimes interpreted as a symbol of time), and the third eye in his forehead (indicating Shiva's penetrating vision and wisdom that pierce worldly illusions).

Shiva's association with the linga form derives from his asceticism. In Indian culture, ascetics were thought capable of attaining extraordinary powers—sometimes rivaling those of the gods—through meditation, austerities, and strict self-denial. Because their practices included celibacy and strict control of reproductive fluids, the upright phallus came to represent accumulated stores of energy and creative ability. Shiva, the foremost of ascetics, possesses powers vast enough to generate creation. The linga refers both to this ability and to asceticism's potential rewards, which include escaping rebirth.


More Information

Exhibition History: "The Ideal Image: The Gupta Sculptural Tradition and Its Influence", Asia House Gallery, New York (10/5/1978-12/3/1978), Kimbell Art Museum (1/11/1979-2/25/1979), The Art Institute of Chicago (3/24/1979-5/6/1979)
"Manifestations of Shiva", Philadelphia Museum of Art (3/29/1981-6/7/1981), Kimbell Art Museum, Forth Worth (8/1/1981-9/27/1981), Seattle Art Museum (11/25/1981-1/31/1982), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (3/18/1982-5/30/1982)
"Indian Stone Sculpture ", SFO Airport, 11/15/1985 - 3/1986
Label:

Temples devoted to the Hindu god Shiva often contain in their innermost sanctums a linga, or phallic emblem of this deity. A highly complex symbol, the linga represents the generative powers associated with Shiva. While most linga are plain in appearance, some—like this example—depict the face of Shiva. It includes other recognizable emblems of Shiva: matted hair (representing his asceticism and detachment from worldly concerns), the crescent moon in his hair (sometimes interpreted as a symbol of time), and the third eye in his forehead (indicating Shiva's penetrating vision and wisdom that pierce worldly illusions).

Shiva's association with the linga form derives from his asceticism. In Indian culture, ascetics were thought capable of attaining extraordinary powers—sometimes rivaling those of the gods—through meditation, austerities, and strict self-denial. Because their practices included celibacy and strict control of reproductive fluids, the upright phallus came to represent accumulated stores of energy and creative ability. Shiva, the foremost of ascetics, possesses powers vast enough to generate creation. The linga refers both to this ability and to asceticism's potential rewards, which include escaping rebirth.


Exhibition History: "The Ideal Image: The Gupta Sculptural Tradition and Its Influence", Asia House Gallery, New York (10/5/1978-12/3/1978), Kimbell Art Museum (1/11/1979-2/25/1979), The Art Institute of Chicago (3/24/1979-5/6/1979)
"Manifestations of Shiva", Philadelphia Museum of Art (3/29/1981-6/7/1981), Kimbell Art Museum, Forth Worth (8/1/1981-9/27/1981), Seattle Art Museum (11/25/1981-1/31/1982), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (3/18/1982-5/30/1982)
"Indian Stone Sculpture ", SFO Airport, 11/15/1985 - 3/1986