India, ca. 18th century CE. A cast bronze depiction of Nandi (also Nandin) the divine bull calf reclining before a petite linga on a multi-tiered rising pedestal/plinth with the serpent Sheesha (Sheshanaga or Adishesha) providing a protective hood over the gatekeeper deity of Lord Shiva's abode known as Kailasa. Sculptural depictions of Nandi are often seen at Hindu temples dedicated to Shiva, and this figure is in part responsible for the Hindu worship and reverence for bulls, particularly in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Size: 10.125" L x 6" W x 15.25" H (25.7 cm x 15.2 cm x 38.7 cm)
Nandi is the son of Kasyapa and Surabhi according to the Vayu Purana. His role as Shiva’s gatekeeper is described in the Saura Purana Nandi as, ‘adorned with all ornaments, glowing like a thousand suns, holding a trident in his hand, three-eyed, adorned with a sliver of the moon, a thunderbolt in his hand, four-armed, like a second Sankara [Shiva]’. It is common to see a statue of Nandi as a bull upon a plinth, similar to the composition we see in this example, before most Hindu temples dedicated to Shiva. Nandi traditionally sits in a columned pavilion called a nandi mandapa - positioned so that he may gaze at Shiva’s linga within the main temple. It is popular practice for worshippers to dress the statue of Nandi with bells, clappers, as well as a necklace of flowers. Shesha is the king of all nagas or the nagaraja, said to be the one to hold all the planets upon his hoods and sing in praise of Lord Vishnu.
Provenance: private Hawaii USA collection
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