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The Hindu deities Shiva and Vishnu combined as Harihara

600-700

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum
San Francisco, United States

The two foremost male gods of Hinduism, Shiva and Vishnu, are sometimes shown combined. Usually the combined representations, like this one, are divided in half vertically, with Shiva on the image’s right. Here, the division can be seen most easily in the headdress: the Shiva half has the tied-up dreadlock-like hair worn by ascetics., and the Vishnu half has part of a cylindrical crown. Also, the two earrings are different, as is the treatment of the hair falling over the two shoulders., The Hindu Deity Shiva
Shiva is the supreme deity for many Hindus. His divine personality is very complex and embodies contradictions. In these sculptures and others in Galleries 1 and 4, the great god is shown as a family man, a conqueror of demons, a fierce or gentle ascetic, or, more abstractly, as the Absolute embodied in a pillar-like phallic emblem.
Shiva is conventionally represented with certain physical characteristics that convey various aspects of his divine power, such as a third eye in the middle of the forehead, and four or more arms. He usually appears as a yogi, or ascetic, with the long dreadlock-like locks of his hair tied on top of his head. He sometimes wears a crescent moon or skull at the front of his hairdress. He is also associated with certain animals (snakes, and his faithful mount, the bull Nandi), and may carry identifying objects such a trident, an axe, an antelope, or a small drum.
Not all of these characteristics and attributes are shown in every image of Shiva. Some are particular to a certain form of the god, and the popularity of others varies by region.
The two foremost male gods of Hinduism, Shiva and Vishnu, are sometimes shown combined.
Usually the combined representations, like this one, are divided in half vertically, with Shiva on the image’s right. Here, the division can be seen most easily in the headdress: the Shiva half has the tied-up dreadlock-like hair worn by ascetics., and the Vishnu half has part of a cylindrical crown. Also, the two earrings are different, as is the treatment of the hair falling over the two shoulders.

Details

  • Title: The Hindu deities Shiva and Vishnu combined as Harihara
  • Date Created: 600-700
  • Location Created: Central India
  • Physical Dimensions: H. 42 1/2 in x W. 22 in x D. 8 1/2 in, H. 107.9 cm x W. 55.8 cm x D. 21.5 cm
  • Rights: Public Domain
  • Medium: Sandstone
  • Credit Line: Asian Art Museum, Museum purchase, B70S1

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