Shiva as Half Man and Half Woman (Ardhanarishvara)
Artist/maker unknown, India
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The god Shiva, shown here in the form of half male and half female Ardhanarishvara, represents the perfect unity of the divine. He appears as the right side of the figure, holding his distinctive hourglass drum. His wife Parvati appears as the left, carrying their son Ganesha (the elephant-headed deity). Shiva’s devoted bull and Parvati’s lion sit nearby. The portrayal of the god and goddess as one being denotes the inseparability of male and female, and signifies the duality of the created world.