Shiva Playing the Lute

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Calcutta (present-day Kolkata), West Bengal, Bengal Region, India, Asia

c. 1875-1890

Watercolor on paper

Sheet: 17 15/16 × 11 inches (45.6 × 27.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Stella Kramrisch, 1969

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Shiva is a Hindu god whose conduct is often outside the norms of society. He is wild, solitary, and nonconformist, considered by many to be the supreme ascetic. As such, Shiva is usually depicted with uncombed hair tied to the top of his head, a tiger skin wrap, rosary beads, and snakes to accentuate his unconventional nature. Devotees of Shiva are more likely to become ascetics because their god serves as an incomparable role model for life at the fringe.