Shiva-Panchanana - 996.117.1_1



Maker: Unknown artist
Medium:Watercolour on paper
Geography: Kalighat, Kolkata (Calcutta), Bengal, India
Date: 19th century AD
27.7 x 44.7 cm, 0.1 cm
Object number: 996.117.1
Credit Line: Gift of Cawthra Mulock
Not on view

In this depiction of the Hindu god Shiva, he is playing multiple instruments in his multiple hands. From left to right, he holds a double-sided drum (damru), a stringed instrument (vina), and a small drum (tabla). In his remaining hand, he holds a drinking horn. The god's five-faces, representing the cardinal directions and a central axis, are a symbol of the god's omnipresence. They are depicted in such a way that each face shares eyes with the next one; the fifth rests within the cobra hood.

Kalighat paintings are characterized by bright, broad washes of color and were made in the neighborhood of Calcutta's Kalighat temple in the late19th and early 20th centuries. Subjects ranged from religious images to contemporary events and social commentary. They are an example of early mass produced images that resulted from the migration of artists from rural to urban spaces  and the new demands of a growing population in colonial India. They were frequently picked up by western tourists travelling through India since Calcutta was a major port city. 

South Asia
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