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Karttikeya, God of War, Seated on a Peacock

Indian; Andhra Pradesh, MadanapalleGanga period, about 12th century

The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, United States

Karttikeya, the god of war, is known by various names, including Skanda, Kumara, and Shanmukha, as well as Murugan in southern India, where he is very popular. This monumental granite sculpture is probably from the Madanapalle region of Andhra Pradesh. Carved in the round and riding a peacock, the commander of the gods is shown with six heads (“shanmukha”) and twelve arms, ten of which hold weapons aloft. The multiple arms and heads of Hindu deities usually denote their superhuman power. According to legend, Karttikeya was born from the split seed of the Hindu divinity Shiva. He developed his six heads in order to nurse from his six mothers, the Pleiades (or Krittikas—hence his name, Karttikeya), a constellation of stars. The complex accounts of his miraculous birth and heroic exploits indicate that his character combines several streams of folk belief.

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  • Title: Karttikeya, God of War, Seated on a Peacock
  • Creator: Indian; Andhra Pradesh, Madanapalle
  • Date Created: Ganga period, about 12th century
  • Physical Dimensions: 150.5 × 121 × 39 cm (59 1/16 × 47 5/8 × 15 3/8 in.)
  • Type: Sculpture
  • External Link: The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Media: Basalt
  • Culture/Place: Andhra Pradesh, Madanapalle
  • Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, restricted gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sylvain S. Wyler, 1962.203
  • Artist: Indian, Andhra Pradesh, Madanapalle

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