Shiva as Victor of Three Cities (Tripuravijaya)

Place Made:
India: Tamil Nadu, Tandantottam
c. 875
overall: 30-1/2 x 14-1/2 x - 5/8 in. (77.5 x 36.8 x 14.3 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
On View

In his iconic form as Shiva the Destroyer of the Three Cities (Tripurantaka), the god is depicted in a heroic stance, with his legs bent in a pose called dvibhanga. Originally, Shiva’s outstretched hands would have held a bow and arrow. According to legend, demons created havoc in three celestial cities. The demons could only be destroyed with a single arrow when the cities converged, which happened rarely. Gods and humans pleaded with Shiva to restore order by destroying the demons. When the cities converged, Shiva shot his arrow, setting all three cities—and the demons—on fire.

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