The Hindu god Shiva is shown with expansive chest and alert face, his hands bearing tokens of his exploits - a battle ax, a deer, and (now broken off) a cup of deadly poison. The poison was produced by the gods and demons as they churned up the ocean; when Shiva drank it, it turned his throat blue. This is one of the many forms of the supreme god Shiva. He holds a deer, signifying that worshiping Shiva provides a better path to salvation than carrying out ritual sacrifices (the dominant form of religious practice in early India 3,000 years ago). The deer is said to be a trophy of the occasion on which Shiva elevated himself to a supreme position by destroying a horse sacrifice.

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  • Title: Shiva
  • Date Created: 14th-15th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w12 x h31.3 cm
  • Type: sculpture
  • Rights: Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 1988, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
  • External Link: The Walters Art Museum
  • Medium: bronze
  • Provenance: John and Berthe Ford, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1989, by gift.
  • Place of Origin: Kerala, India
  • Artist: Indian