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Yoni and lingams

Yoni and lingams

  • Place of origin:

    India (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Rock crystal, cut and polished using abrasives

  • Museum number:

    717 to C-1874

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The lingam is a sign of gender and represents the phallus. In Hinduism, it is regarded as a symbol of the god Shiva and may appear in a wide range of sizes to be used for worship in various places from the home to temples. It is often placed upon a stand, the yoni, which represents the female equivalent, the vulva, thus conveying union between the two genders. Sometimes a yoni may have grooves carved into its surface to channel away water that may be poured over the lingam.
It was acquired by William Tayler during his time in India (1829-1867). He subsequently sold it to the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria & Albert Museum) in 1874 for the sum of £4-0-0. William Tayler was educated in England at Charterhouse and also spent a term at Christ Church, Oxford. He entered service with the East India Company on 30th April 1829, arriving in India in October of the same year. He held various posts in Bengal and was appointed Commissioner of Patna in 1855. During his service, he was able to acquire many objects, including hardstones, relating to the customs and religions of India as well as objects from other parts of South Asia. He was criticised for his handling of the 1857 uprisings in Northern India and was moved to a lesser post before being suspended, ultimately resigning on 29th March 1859. He then practised as an advocate in the law courts of Bengal before returning to England in 1867. He wrote a book about his experiences, entitled Thirty-eight Years in India, in which he states that "After my return to England, circumstances induced me, though with great reluctance, to part with the collection which is now in the South Kensington Museum".

Physical description

A yoni and three, roughly cylindrical but slightly tapering lingam stones, fashioned in rock crystal and polished.
The roughly fashioned yoni has a generally rounded cylindrical form with a slightly constricted waist. The upper section has a protrusion on one side and a short, narrow cylindrical protrusion on top. From the either side of the base of this uppermost protrusion, there is a shallow engraved channel that runs along either side of the top of the lateral protrusion.
Each of the three lingam stones has one flat end with the other being rounded. One is otherwise plain whilst the other two have engraving that depicts a phallus.

Place of Origin

India (made)

Materials and Techniques

Rock crystal, cut and polished using abrasives

Dimensions

Length: 42.9 mm 717-1874, Width: 31.2 mm 717-1874, Height: 38.1 mm 717-1874, Length: 51.8 mm 717A-1874, Diameter: 21.7 to 22.5 mm 717A-1874, Diameter: 27.4 to 28.5 mm 717A-1874, Length: 41.9 mm 717B-1874, Diameter: 13.8 to 14.5 mm 717B-1874, Diameter: 23.2 to 24.5 mm 717B-1874, Length: 48.85 mm 717C-1874, Diameter: 12.8 to 13.1 mm 717C-1874, Diameter: 22.3 to 22.8 mm 717C-1874

Object history note

These lingam stones and yoni were acquired by William Tayler during his time in India (1829-1867). He subsequently sold them to the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria & Albert Museum) in 1874 for the sum of £4-0-0.
William Tayler was educated in England at Charterhouse and also spent a term at Christ Church, Oxford. He entered service with the East India Company on 30th April 1829, arriving in India in October of the same year. He held various posts in Bengal and was appointed Commissioner of Patna in 1855. During his service, he was able to acquire many objects, including hardstones, relating to the customs and religions of India as well as objects from other parts of South Asia.
He was criticised for his handling of the uprisings in Northern India and was moved to a lesser post before being suspended, ultimately resigning on 29th March 1859. He then practised as an advocate in the law courts of Bengal before returning to England in 1867.
He wrote a book about his experiences, entitled Thirty-eight Years in India, in which he states that "After my return to England, circumstances induced me, though with great reluctance, to part with the collection which is now in the South Kensington Museum".

Descriptive line

A yoni and three lingam stone symbols, rock crystal, India

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Dallpiccola, Anna L., Author. Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend. Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2002. ISBN 0-500-28402-4
Liebert, Gösta, Author. Iconographic Dictionary of the Indian Religions. Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, India, 1986. ISBN 81-7030-098-3

Materials

Quartz crystal

Categories

Ceremonial objects; Gemstones; Hardstone; Hinduism

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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