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Carved Black Basalt Stele of Shiva, Pavati & Nandi
Madhya Pradesh, North India
circa 9th-10th century

height: 9cm, length: 8.5cm, thickness: 3.5cm

This group carved in black basalt depicts Shiva, his consort Parvati (also known as Uma) and Shiva's celestial vehicle Nandi, within a double arched and
chiselled aureole. Possibly, other deities are (or were) shown but have become obscured by the loss and wear to the stele, wear that seems both
environmental and
puja (prayer or ritual) related.

Shiva sits in
lalitasana with Parvati (Uma) seated on his left thigh with her right arm around Shiva's neck. Her other arm now is largely lost but probably held a
mirror. Both Shiva and Parvati have unusually tall matted hair crowns (
jata-mukuta). A sandstone stele in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, also attributed to
Madhya Pradesh but to the early eleventh century shows this group in this configuration and with Shiva with a particularly tall
jata-mukuta (see Harle &
Topsfield, 1987, p. 37.) The pair sit over Nandi, who sits on his folded legs.

The stele has a superb patina. There are obvious age-related losses. The contours of the stele and the breasts and foreheads of the main figures in the
group have attained smoothness and polish from devotional handling.

References:
Harle, J.C. & A. Topsfield,
Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum, Ashmolean Museum, 1987.

Provenance: UK private collection/UK art market

Inventory no.: 1992

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