This painting captures the most wonderful amalgamation
of Lord Shiva with his eternal consort, Goddess Parvati, who is also his
internal potency and energy. The word Ardhanarishvara is a blend of two words;
“Ardha” meaning “Half”, “Nari” meaning “Female” and “Ishvara” meaning “Lord”,
which comes out to be the “Half-Female Lord”. The description of the fusion of Shiva
and Parvati’s powers as one is in itself a beautiful art, and what to speak of
the beauty of Tanjore style artwork which is altogether unique and attractive.
This chaturbhuja (four-handed) Ardhanarishvara form describes two halves split from the middle. The right half is shown as Lord shiva whose body complexion is bluish like the sky. Half of his matted hair is gathered to form a crown on his head which beholds a crescent moon on it. He has a broad chest and is adorned with a serpent and a string of rudraksh beads around his neck. Unprecedently clad in a bright yellow dhoti down to his ankles and a tiger’s skin (baag chhaal) reaching his knees. His upper hand holds a long Trident (Trishul) with a Dumroo attached to it, while the lower hand is in Abhaya Mudra. The left half of the form shows Goddess Parvati attired in a beautiful pink saree. She appears just like the glowing sun as she is ornamented with several jewels on her molten gold complexioned body. She holds a lotus flower in her upper hand while her lower hand hangs down. Although a soft smile on her face describes her merciful nature, she also represents the power of being the energy behind all the activities of her husband. Both Shiva and Parvati are accompanied by their mounts, Nandi the sacred bull and a lion respectively.
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