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Shivalingam with Four Faces, c. 900

India: Uttar Pradesh, 875-925
Sandstone
17-1/2 x 17 x 17 in. (44.5 x 43.2 x 43.2 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1972.11.2.S
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

The Sanskrit word "linga" literally means "sign" or "gender," and the Hindu god Shiva is commonly worshiped in this form. This elaborate lingam is carved with four heads, which face in the four cardinal directions. A fifth head is implicit in the smooth dome of the lingam and symbolizes the ultimate and abstract form of the supreme being. Shiva's cosmogonic aspects are both male and female, angry and benign.


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