Standing Three-Headed Shiva
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1990.1
Title
Standing Three-Headed Shiva
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
figure, sculpture
Date
Karakota period, circa 700-900
Places
Creation Place: South Asia, India, Kashmir
Period
Karakota period, c. 7th-9th centuries
Location
Level 2, Room 2590, South Asian Art
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Dark gray chlorite
Dimensions
66.7 x 25.2 x 11.4 cm (26 1/4 x 9 15/16 x 4 1/2 in.)
Provenance
[Spink and Son Ltd., London, (by 1989-1990)] sold; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1990.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Ernest B. and Helen Pratt Dane Fund for the Acquisition of Oriental Art
Accession Year
1990
Object Number
1990.1
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Commentary
Label text from exhibition “Re-View,” an overview of objects drawn from the collections of Harvard Art Museums, 26 April 2008 – 1 July 2013; label text written by Kim Masteller, Assistant Curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art, Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art:

Standing Three-Headed Shiva
India, Kashmir, Karakota period, 8th–9th century
Dark gray chlorite
Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Ernest B. and Helen Pratt Dane Fund for the Acquisition of Oriental Art, 1990.1

In the early centuries of the medieval period, Kashmir was a flourishing center of Hindu and Buddhist practices where several cults developed, including localized forms of Shaivism, the worship of the Hindu god Shiva. This work depicts a common icon in the Kashmiri Shaivite tradition, a three-headed form of Shiva known as Maheshvara (great lord). His smooth, rounded form, squat proportions, and flattened features closely resemble the artistic style that developed just before and during the rule of the Kashmiri king Avantivarman (r. c. 855–83). Kashmir was at the cross¬roads between India and the provincial Hellenistic region of Gandhara to the north. The suggestion of musculature in Shiva’s torso reveals the lingering influence of Gandharan styles upon Kashmiri art.
Publication History

A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions by the Harvard University Art Museums, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, Spring 2000), p. 7

Exhibition History

Re-View: Arts of India & the Islamic Lands, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/26/2008 - 06/01/2013

Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted