The Half-Male, Half-Female Form of Shiva (Shiva Ardhanarishvara)
This sculpture is of Shiva, originally found in Kerala, southwestern India, shows the importance of religious symbols in Hinduism. Shiva is a major Hindu god who is associated with the opposing ideas of destruction and regeneration. As evidence of Shiva's divine status, the god was often depicted as male and female at once indicating that Shiva was above and outside the physical world, beyond human limitations. As a result of the Indian Ocean trading network, sculptures such as these spread to Southeast Asia and to the east coast of Africa, showing the role of trade in the distribution of ideas and artifacts.
This source is a part of the Trade and Religion in the Indian Ocean Network, 1100-1500 teaching module.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Samuel Eilenberg Collection, Gift of Samuel Eilenberg, 1987