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Silver & Rock Crystal Shivalingam
India
19th century

height: 7.8cm, length: 9.6cm, width: 6.8cm, weight: 332g

This beautiful and relatively rare shivalingam comprises a silver yoni base, and a lingam made of a single, domed piece of polished rock crystal.

The base is of silver because silver is considered a 'pure' metal in Hinduism and thus appropriate for use in ritual-related items. It comprises very thick sheet
silver over what is probably a lac core. It is of waisted form and sits on a wide, tiered foot which is fully closed.

The
lingam and yoni base are fixed together; they do no separate.

The form of the
lingam is based on the male genitalia and is an abstract representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva. Lingams are used in worship in temples and  
smaller shrines, including household shrines. The
lingam is seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of Shiva himself.

The
lingam is often represented rising from the yoni, the female symbol, the form of which is based on the female genitalia.

The physical union of a
lingam with a yoni represents the indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female. Neither representations have any overt sexual
meaning however. Indeed, the two are more symbols of power, fertility and prosperity than anything that is sexually charged.

Puja worship of a shivalingam typically involves pouring water, milk and ghee offerings over the lingam and the yoni acts as the catchment receptacle and the
conduit from which these sacred offerings can be collected and distributed to those in attendance.

This fine item has a wonderful patina consistent with age and having been ritually used. The silver retains traces of residue from offerings. There are no splits
of repairs to the silver. There is a minor dent to one side of the
yoni tray however, although this is consistent with its having been used.  Overall, this is a rare,
museum-quality piece.

References:
Bala Krishnan, U.R., & M.S. Kumar, Dance of the Peacock: Jewellery Traditions of India, India Book House Ltd, 1999.
Blurton, T.R.,
Hindu Art, The British Museum Press, 1992.
Utracht, O.,
Traditional Jewelry of India, Thames & Hudson, 1997.

Provenance: private English collection.

Inventory no.: 4175 SOLD

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