One-Faced Mark of the God Shiva (Ekamukhalinga)

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Uttar Pradesh, Mathura, India, Asia

c. 1st century CE


30 3/4 x 7 x 8 1/2 inches (78.1 x 17.8 x 21.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Stella Kramrisch, 1970

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The linga (literally "mark") indicates the presence of the god Shiva. It is both an abstract column, representing the axis of the world, and Shiva's erect phallus, embodying the god's potency, which is built up by his ascetic discipline that holds his sexual energy at the moment before release. A linga may be sculpted from a variety of materials or be discovered occurring naturally, as in the form of an oval stone. In this early period, before the development of standing stone temples, the linga often appears to have been worshiped outdoors, set within railings on a raised platform under trees. The combination of pillar and emerging face expresses the process of the god's manifestation from invisible to visible, from abstract to human form, so that his devotees may comprehend his magnitude.