The artist has displayed exceptional ingenuity in modeling the two figures. Not a routine form classified as Harihara : half Vishnu and half Shiva, or one combining Lakshmi’s form with that of Parvati, this ingenuity reveals in combining in the beings of Shiva and Parvati – the timeless divine lovers, the majesty and aura of Vishnu and grandeur and resplendence of his consort Lakshmi. Except a semi-curved posture – a feature of romantically poised figures as those representing Lord Krishna or love-god Kamadeva, amorously holding his consort on his left, not an element of Vishnu’s imagery or a form fitted to his regal status, and the style of ensemble : a loincloth, however gorgeous, not his usual ‘pitambara’ – yellow ‘antariya’ covering his entire lower half, the artist has so created the magic of forms that there reveal in the figure of Shiva the image of Vishnu and in that of Parvati the image of Lakshmi. Ingeniously meeting his artistic challenge, the artist has created a form of Shiva in the frame of Vishnu, synthesizing the two sets of imagery so strangely that the towering majestic crown, the characteristic feature of Vishnu’s icons, has been conceived with an apex combining a form of ‘jata-juta’ – lumps of matted hair, and snake-forms mounting on it, the essential elements of Shiva’s iconography.
Exceptionally ornate these twin images, revealing infinite beauty and grace, represent Shiva with Parvati on his left. When with Parvati, Shiva’s divinity is believed to multiply and from Mahesh – great god, he becomes Maheshvara – god of gods. Uma-Maheshvara is thus one of his few classified iconographic forms. However, in his Uma-Maheshvara form, as he has been represented in early sculptures, he is usually represented as normal two-armed seated holding Parvati in his left arm. Scholars have classified his yet another form with Parvati as Uma-sahit-Shiva : Shiva with Uma, Parvati’s other name. Uma-sahit-Shiva is his seated as well as standing form. These twin statues represent this Uma-sahit-Shiva form of Shiva’s iconography.
A contemporary brass piece, with the timeless quality of their art the statues transcend scale of time and class with the best of the art traditions of the land. Except that the figure of Parvati is not as sensuously conceived as in them, especially in modeling her beasts and thighs, in their figural dimensions, anatomy, gesticulation, iconographic features, ornamentation, fluidity of lines, rare plasticity, perfect modeling and in their power to breathe a lyrical eloquence, these brass-statues are reminiscent of the early tenth century Chola bronzes. The figures of Shiva and Parvati have been modeled with sharp noses, lotus-eyes, cute small lips, pointed chin, large ears with ear-ornaments reaching down the shoulders, well-defined necks, tall slender figures with perfectly balanced anatomy and curvatures and contours of raised arms and bent legs. Shiva has on his forehead the ‘tri-netra’ – third eye, and Parvati, an auspicious mark. The styles of tight-clinging and grooved ‘antariya’ : Shiva’s, almost a loincloth, and Parvati’s, long with a central decorative ‘patta’ – band, Shiva’s loose ‘yajnopavit’ and the chains or laces worn around their necks by them both, with moderate circular pendants, all are the features inherited from the tradition of early Chola bronzes.
The statues of Shiva and Parvati have been installed on a three-tiered rectangular pedestal, two courses composed mainly of lotuses. Its base consists of a plain moulding followed by an upwards narrowing lotus rising which carries over it a plain straight rectangular moulding. This central tier supports on it an oval shaped large stylized lotus with a plain apex to install the twin figures. The Shiva’s figure, as well as Parvati’s, are in the semi-curved postures revealing exceptional beauty. Delightfully aligned and contrasted, Parvati’s figure has its right knee bent corresponding to Shiva’s similarly bent left knee. The two figures further curve: Parvati’s hip to left, and Shiva’s, to right, and Shiva’s shoulders, to left, and Parvati’s, to right. Shiva has his feet firmly set on the pedestal but gently drawn by Shiva Parvati’s feet do not hold on the base as firmly as him. Her heels are lifted shifting on toes the most of her body weight. Though static by far, there bursts from behind their overall disposition, flexion and fluidity of contours divine energy and great vigour.
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.