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HOME : Asian Art : Art of India : Indian Marble Sculpture of the Sacred Bull Nandi
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Indian Marble Sculpture of the Sacred Bull Nandi - PF.1378
Origin: India
Circa: 5 th Century AD to 6 th Century AD
Dimensions: 7.625" (19.4cm) high x 8.25" (21.0cm) wide
Collection: Asian
Medium: Marble
Condition: Fine


Location: United States
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Description
Nandi the bull-calf is the mount or vehicle of Lord Shiva. As Shiva’s most devoted disciple, his image is often placed directly opposite Shiva’s shrine in Hindu temples. Regularly honoured by worshippers with offerings of flowers and incense, sculptures of Nandi are often touched in the hope that devotees will be able to imitate the strength of his devotion to Shiva. It is not known when these two deities first came to be associated but there is a long history of devotion to bulls in Asia. The early civilisation of the Indus Valley in particular (c. 3000-2000 BC) clearly held the bull in high veneration- producing images in stone and terracotta. In Sanskrit Nandi means ‘joyfulness’ or ‘He who gives joy.’ This refers to the emotions experienced by the devotee in the presence of Shiva.

Carved from marble, the artist has rendered the bull's anatomy with bold and powerful lines, coupled with a spiritual aura that conveys Nandi's divine status. We do not doubt for a moment that we are in the presence of a sacred creature rather than an earthly one. The bull is seated in a recumbent pose with his front right leg extended and his head slightly raised. A wide collar runs around the neck and the details of eyes, tail and hooves are picked out in black pigment. Traces of red and gold, particularly on the base suggest that the sculpture was once extensively polychromed. The scale of the carving indicates that it was used for private devotion, perhaps in a household shrine. This is an exceptionally early piece of great beauty and character. (AM) - (PF.1378)

 

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