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Shiva and Parvati with Ganesha

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Bangladesh (north-east, made)

  • Date:

    9th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Copper alloy

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    South Asian Sculpture, Room 47b, case 4

These type of small-scale devotional images were popular household shrines. The quality and scale of this example suggests that it was commissioned by a person of some importance.
It shows Shiva and Parvati, accompanied by Ganesha (the elephant-headed god) and Nandin (a bull-calf), a subject otherwise known as ‘Uma-Mahesvara’. The lively image, in which Shiva and Parvati appear to be engaged in animated conversation, is dominated by the Shiva’s splendid trident (‘trisula’). Festively decorated it occupies the centre of the composition. Here it appears as an integrated form and resembles a flaming spear, a distinctive type not widely seen in India.
The divine couple are seated together on cushions, each framed by a large flaming aureole (‘sirascakra’). Shiva is in an aroused state, his penis erect (but damaged). Both hold unidentified objects in their raised hands. In the case of Shiva it is a tapering form, which might perhaps be Ganesha’s missing tusk.
Ganesha appears on a lotus-stem support, supplementary to the scene. Nandin, who willingly supports Shiva’s pendant foot, listens attentively to Shiva’s discourse. Parvati similarly rests her foot on a seated lion. Both figures are finely modelled and conform to shastric conventions of ideal beauty. Shiva is broad-shouldered and sits upright. Parvati is slender with full breasts and rounded hips.

Physical description

Shiva and Parvati, early Pala style, bronze. An unusual group of Shiva and Parvati, with Ganesha beside them, shows the god and goddess engaged in animated conversation. Comfortably seated at ease (sukhasana), each on a cushion, their figures turn toward each other. Shiva's raised right hand makes emphatic whatever he may be discoursing on, while their raised chins and smiling countenances show their genial detachment. Nandin , ecstatically listening, lets his small figure serve as Shiva's footstool, while a calmly watchful lion renders the same service to the goddess. To Shiva's right, Ganesha is installed on his own pedestal stemming from the throne of Shiva and Parvati. Each of the figures has a large, oval nimbus (sirascakra); Shiva's and Parvati's are ornamented with two flames rising symmetrically at the sides and a large jewel device surmounting the top. Shiva's trident (trisula), a mighty standard, festively decorated, rises between god and goddess as the central object of the group.

A duct connects Parvati's nimbus with the trident, the corresponding duct on Siva's side is broken.

Place of Origin

Bangladesh (north-east, made)


9th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Copper alloy


Height: 15 cm, Width: 15 cm, Depth: 7.5 cm

Descriptive line

Shiva and Parvati with Ganesha, copper alloy, Bangladesh, 9th century

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

p.29 and illus. p.7
Arts of Bengal : the heritage of Bangladesh and eastern India : an exhibition organized by the Whitechapel Art Gallery in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum : 9 November-30 December 1979, Whitechapel Art Gallery ..., 12 January-17 February 1980, Manchester City Art Gallery ... . [London]: Whitechapel Art Gallery, [1979] Number: 085488047X (pbk.) :
Manifestations of Shiva, Philadelphia Museum, 1981.
G.Bhattacharya, " A unique bronze piece of Bangla Desh", South Asian Archeology,1995, Vol. 2
p.144, pl.162
Guy, John Indian temple sculpture . London: V&A Publications, 2007

Labels and date

Copper alloy
Eastern Bengal, probably
Chittagong, Bangladesh
Pala period
c.9th century [25/09/2000]
12. The Hindu Deities Shiva and Parvati with
Ganesha and Nandi
Pala period
Copper alloy
Bangladesh (possibly Comilla District, Chittagong region)
Museum no. 854(IS) [06/06/2011]

Production Note

possibly Comilla District of Chittagong region

Subjects depicted

Trident; Hinduism; Benches; Cushions


Images Online; Sculpture; Religion; Hinduism; India Museum


South & South East Asia Collection

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