The Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati (Shakti), depicted as half male and half female, is called Ardhanarishvara, which means ‘the lord who is half woman’. It is a synthesis of masculine and feminine energies illustrating how Shakti is inseparable from Shiva. It is also known as Ardhanaranari (the half man-woman), Ardhanarisha (Lord who is half woman), Ardhanarinateshwara (Lord of dance who is half woman), Naranari (man-woman) etc. This concept originated in Kushan era (30-375 CE), perfected in the Gupta era (320-600 CE).The right superior side is the male Shiva and the left is female Shakti indicating masculine dominant right side; depicted with four arms (two on each side).
Shiva is in abhaya mudra of blessing and the rear hand holds a trishul symbolizing control over universal time. Female half holds a kamandalu (sacred pot of cold water) and a lotus in the back hand indicating purity. Male half wears a jata-mukuta (headdress of matted hair) with the sacred river Ganga flowing out and a crescent moon adorned on it. Male eye is slightly smaller than the female eye; left side of the neck is adorned with beautiful jewels and right side has a serpent (symbol of death) coiled around it. Third eye is in the centre of Shiva’s tilak and Shakti’s bindi. Shiva is attired in a tiger skin and Shakti wears a sari.
It is an irony that despite being presented differently in all aspects, they demonstrate soulfulness. This rare statue is sculpted out of a single piece of marble representing purity, truth and affection towards each other and the people.