Online Collection

Collections



Asian Art Museum Logo
The Hindu deity Shiva in the fierce form of Bhairava
Place of Origin: India, former Nolamba kingdom, probably Karnataka state
Date: 800-1000
Materials: Basalt
Dimensions: H. 25 1/4 in x W. 14 1/2 in x D. 5 in, H. 64.1 cm x W. 36.8 cm x D. 12.7 cm
Credit Line: The Avery Brundage Collection
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Sculpture
Object Number: B63S19+
On Display: No

Description

Label:

The two great gods Shiva and Brahma had a bitter dispute, and Shiva cut off one of Brahma's five heads. In penance for this frightful sin, Shiva had to wander the world as a naked beggar with the head of Brahma stuck to his hand "to destroy evil and benefit creation."

Texts describing Shiva in this form emphasize both his horrifying qualities and his elegance and seductiveness. Here he is shown with traditional characteristics of ferocious beings: wild hair, bulging eyes, and fangs, along with cobras twining around his arms.

Yet what should be a repulsive image is, instead, shapely and sensual. Bhairava's face, despite its fangs, appears rather gentle. The whole is testimony to the unsettling attractiveness of the dreadful and horrific.


More Information

Exhibition History: "Hindu Deities", San Francisco International Airport, United Terminal, August 10, 2012 - March 4, 2013
Label:

The two great gods Shiva and Brahma had a bitter dispute, and Shiva cut off one of Brahma's five heads. In penance for this frightful sin, Shiva had to wander the world as a naked beggar with the head of Brahma stuck to his hand "to destroy evil and benefit creation."

Texts describing Shiva in this form emphasize both his horrifying qualities and his elegance and seductiveness. Here he is shown with traditional characteristics of ferocious beings: wild hair, bulging eyes, and fangs, along with cobras twining around his arms.

Yet what should be a repulsive image is, instead, shapely and sensual. Bhairava's face, despite its fangs, appears rather gentle. The whole is testimony to the unsettling attractiveness of the dreadful and horrific.


Exhibition History: "Hindu Deities", San Francisco International Airport, United Terminal, August 10, 2012 - March 4, 2013