Cast in brass, this artifact has a rare and mystic Tantrika look, represents Lord Shiva as ‘Ling’ – his aniconic form. Shiva’s both forms, the aniconic ‘ling’ and his iconic image, one symbolising his unmanifest form, and other, anthropomorphic, have been in prevalence since Indus days. There figure among the excavated material from various Indus sites terracotta icons of votive ‘ling’ and ‘yoni’ as well as terracotta seals with a ‘Yogi’ figure with soiled coiffure engaged in penance cast on them.
Such figures, with a number of animals, especially a
bull, around, are almost unanimously identified as Pashupati, patron
of animals – Shiva’s other most prominent name. Shiva’s personalised
form portrays an act or an aspect of his being, as Mahayogi form in
Indus seals, but ‘ling’ is symbolic of his formless timeless existence
out of which all forms evolve, and hence, ‘ling’ is essentially
Shiva’s votive form.
Its antique appearance and medieval modelling apart, a simple
Shiva-ling icon, it has an unusual form. The proper Shiva-ling form :
a ‘ling’ icon enshrining ‘yoni’, has been installed on a lotus raised
over a circular two-tiered pedestal for giving it proper height
perspective. Lotus is essentially an element of Vaishnava iconography
rarely seen with Shiva’s form, not even as part of the offering made
during a ritual worship. In Vaishnava iconography, as well as
otherwise, lotus is symbolic of three cosmic zones : ocean, earth and
sky. Here in this icon, with dark zones alternating the bright,
symbolic of day and night, lotus symbolises time which Shiva as ‘ling’
pervades. Its modelling too has a distinction of its own. Compared to
its female component – yoni-part, the male counterpart is tinier in
size; however, a prominently delineated ‘Tripunda’ mark and three
snakes with upraised hoods crowning it afford it a sense of
proportion. In a rare innovative manoeuvring the artist has used the
forms of two of the three snakes for defining the peripheral elevation
of the ‘yoni’, while the third he has used around the root of the
‘ling’ covering the joint.
The symbol of imperishable life, inexhaustible energy and unceasing
act, snakes denote that the desire to create which the union of Shiva
and Shakti symbolises is incessant, persistent and ever live. In
Shaivite thought Shiva is the ‘Purusha’ – the enlivening Self, and
Parvati, ‘Prakriti’, the manifest and unmanifest matter out of which
Shiva effects creation. The Shakta perception attributes to Shakti
priority over Shiva. In Shakta thought, the desire to create is the
attribute of Shakti which is incessant in her. It is she who kindles
in Shiva the desire to unite and create and is thus Shiva’s enlivening
force. The Shakta Tantrism goes still farther acclaiming Shiva as mere
dead mass that Shakti enlivens by her union. Thus, whatever the
contentions in regard to relative priorities of Shiva and his female
aspect – his consort Parvati or Shakti, the union of the two – Shiva
and Shakti : the male and female principles which the Shiva-ling form
manifests, is the crux of Shaivism.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and
is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting
Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.
How to keep a Brass statue well-maintained?
Brass statues are known and appreciated for their exquisite beauty and luster. The brilliant bright gold appearance of Brass makes it appropriate for casting aesthetic statues and sculptures. Brass is a metal alloy composed mainly of copper and zinc. This chemical composition makes brass a highly durable and corrosion-resistant material. Due to these properties, Brass statues and sculptures can be kept both indoors as well as outdoors. They also last for many decades without losing all their natural shine.
Brass statues can withstand even harsh weather conditions very well due to their corrosion-resistance properties. However, maintaining the luster and natural beauty of brass statues is essential if you want to prolong their life and appearance.
In case you have a colored brass statue, you may apply mustard oil using a soft brush or clean cloth on the brass portion while for the colored portion of the statue, you may use coconut oil with a cotton cloth.
Brass idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses are especially known for their intricate and detailed work of art. Nepalese sculptures are famous for small brass idols portraying Buddhist deities. These sculptures are beautified with gold gilding and inlay of precious or semi-precious stones. Religious brass statues can be kept at home altars. You can keep a decorative brass statue in your garden or roof to embellish the area and fill it with divinity.
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