This form of Shiva, an innovation of art, first revealed in early eleventh century, to be exact, in A. D. 1010-15 bronzes, recovered from a temple-site in Tiruvenkadu in Tamilnadu. Along with such statues were found a number of Parvati statues, cast independently, which represented her with an identically curved figure, her right hand lifted and extended and her fingers gesticulated knot-like as if offering Lord Shiva a flower. The local myth of mighty demon cutting Nandi’s horns and tail and Shiva punishing him gave to the forms of Shiva and Parvati, as represented in these statues, a mythical context as also typified their forms in art. This statue of Parvati not only pursues Parvati’s figural anatomy as reveals in these early eleventh century statues of the goddess, but also the same level of aesthetics in regard to her beauty, adornment and wears.
Parvati, Shiva’s spouse, has been represented in the statue as the timeless paramount beauty that she always has been, so much so that barriers of the ‘divine’ and ‘sensuous’ often broke and while singing of her divinity poets like Kalidasa sang more of her sensuous beauty, of her youth, tempting lips, breasts and entire figure forgetting that the person he was singing of was the world’s mother and in the same vein he too worshipped her. The caster of this statue transgressed all set norms of iconography in conceiving her figure. Her anatomy, gestures of hands, demeanour of face all reveal an emotion foreign to the divinity and even iconography of the world mother. She looks like one performing to a formal audience. Except that a motif which looks like emitting flames the style of Parvati’s crown has nothing in common with Shiva’s coiffure with which his Vrashavahanadeva statues have been conceived.
The figure of Parvati has been conceived with a posture identical to that of Shiva – her hip bulging in a powerful curve drawing the weight of her body shifted onto it with the result that two separately cast figures become components of one whole. Aesthetics of her sharp and tenderly conceived features, beauty of her gracious and highly balanced anatomy, lustrous jewellery, ingeniously patterned tight clinging ‘antariya’ – lower wear, with close, restless folds reaching the calves, rows of decorative cords emerging from the mouths of crocodilian creatures and dragon-heads around her waist used for securing it and even the multi-tiered lotus pedestal her figure has been installed on, all have been beautifully conceived.
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.