Atharva-Veda, Samhitas and Upanishads have seen ‘ling’ as the essence of man – his ultimate being. The artist has wondrously used this Vedic-Upanishadic doctrine perceiving Shiva as its epitome. In union with the Yoni Shiva is the ‘Ling’ but at the same time ‘Ling’ is also Shiva. In iconographic tradition Mukha-ling icons – consisting of any number of faces from one to five, manifest the doctrine of inter-exchangeability of the ‘ling’ and the anthropomorphic ‘face’. Novel as it is, this brass-statue plants over the Yoni-pitha the Shiva’s head, complete with the face, thinking mind and essential attributes, exactly in the same proportion and fashion and with same vertical thrust as the Ling. Thus while representing his head the statue also represents Ling or the Ling’s semblance. With rising neck, the junction point, and coiled hair, the apex, producing vertical thrust, the transformation is naturally effected.
As is the brass-cast, the image’s lower half consists of two parts, an elegantly moulded circular base, the statue’s bottom part that holds on it the rest of the statue, and the Yoni-pitha in all its sublimity installed over it. As Ling is aniconic representation of Shiva, Yoni is Parvati’s. Scriptures unanimously contend that Parvati is ‘Shakti’, the life-source of Shiva, and the essential component of procreation. As Shiva is the ultimate Ling Parvati is the ultimate Yoni, and their union, the incessant act of procreation and the source of all that is good, auspicious and beauteous. Significantly, the artist has anodized the Yoni-pitha and the rest around it in lustrous copper, the colour of deep fire and thereby that of energy and life that Parvati manifests. In Indian tradition snake is the symbol of long life, great agility and inexhaustible energy. The artist has hence anodized the snakes too with the same copper dye – the colour of fire.
Cast with gold like lustre and richness the statue has its upper part consisting of Lord Shiva’s head – neck, face, well-dressed hair, both knotted into a coiffure on the top and lying around the neck in thick tresses, and various attributes : crescent on the right, hooded snake on the left and vain river Ganga, on the top. While the snake, coiling around the ‘jata-juta’, tightens it into a shape, arrogant Ganga looks above as if proclaiming that she is above him. Another snake with a massive size lays coiling around his neck that not only conceals the neck-junction and covers the face of the Yoni-pitha but also denotes transfusion of energy that Shiva’s Shakti infuses into Shiva. The image has been modeled with a round face with angular thrust towards the chin, broad forehead with ‘tri-netra’ – third eye, in the centre, well defined nose, moderately sized lips, large but half closed eyes as in intoxication, and well-aligned ears with large ‘kundalas’ suspending down the mid-neck height. Aesthetically the statue abounds in rare image quality.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books. .