The Hindu god Shiva has an enigmatic personality that reconciles extremes. On the one hand he is the supreme ascetic and inspired teacher; on the other he is the loving husband and father. In fact, in most of his manifestations, he is rarely separated from his beloved wife Uma, also known as Parvati.
In this bronze from South India, four-armed Shiva sits serenely at ease beside Uma; once, their infant son Skanda, missing from the statue, stood between them. This family group, known as the Somaskandha, would have been carried in procession on festival days, with poles inserted through the lugs cast along with the base.
India, state of Tamil Nadu
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler, S1987.907