One of the significant manifestations of Shiva is that of Ardhanarishvara, the hermaphrodite. In the process of creation, "the power to conceive (vimarsha) and the power to fulfil (prakasha), when reunited, are immediately manifested as a limit point (bindu), or localization which is the starting point of space and time. From this point starts the vibration or sound (nada) which is the substance of the universe. Space is a female principle, a receptacle, while time is an active, male principle. Their union, symbolized by the divine hermaphrodite, represents the Eros (Kama), the creative impulse." (Swami Karpatri in the 'Shri Shiva Tattva'.)
Primordial divinity is essentially bisexual. Indeed, the divine is defined in the Upanishads as "that in which opposites coexist." Such a deity is said to be Ardhanarishvara, a Sanskrit term meaning "Lord Whose Half is female," embodying the qualities of both genders.
Here Shiva's form is fused halfway into the body of his spouse Parvati. This bisexual image is divided vertically, the right-hand half, which is male, being that of Shiva proper, and the left side having female anatomy, that of Parvati. On Shiva's side are outspread his coils, while behind Parvati is a solar halo. The combined face is characterized by an aquiline nose and sensuous lips. The prominent breast jutting out Parvati's side contrasts well with His sturdy, masculine chest. Snakes writhe upon Shiva's arms, acting as His ornaments, while Parvati's hand is typically adorned with rich feminine jewelry. Similarly, He wears His trademark loin cloth made of animal skin while She is richly dressed in a bejewelled dhoti, which clings to Her leg, outlining its litheness.
The composite deity stands upon a double lotus pedestal, wearing a high crown and different earrings in the two ears. Ardhanarishvara's posture here is that of a graceful dance. Befittingly, the sculptor has contrived to present this jig too as a mixture of the dances typical to Parvati and Shiva respectively. The female foot placed gently on the ground represents Parvati's soft dance known as lasya, while the slightly, yet vigorously raised right foot signifies Shiva's energetic dance known as tandava.