Central Asia, India, ca. 3rd to 4th century CE. A beautiful light-brown and beige-hued schist lingam (or linga) with a rough but planar base and an ovoid body which gently tapers to a rounded top. A single curvilinear band is incised around the upper half, indicative of a phallus head, and a vertical groove projects from the crest represents the urethral opening. The stone itself has a rough-textured feel. Size: 3.5" W x 5.125" H (8.9 cm x 13 cm).
Lingam, Sanskrit for “shaft of light” or “pillar of fire,” are abstract representations of the Hindu god Shiva (or Siva) found in temples or smaller shrines. Sometimes they occur naturally, though the curvilinear grooves indicate that this example is clearly hand-carved. They are often placed alongside representations of the goddess Shakti, known as the yoni, which is typically represented as a stylized vulva. This is one of the few truly abstract representations of a god found in Hinduism.
Provenance: private Secaucus, New Jersey, USA collection; ex-B. Mussienko collection, Maryland, USA, acquired in the 1970s
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