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Nandi, Sacred Bull of Shiva
From the hall of a temple dedicated to Shiva

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Mysore, Karnataka, India, Asia

Medieval Period

c. 1200-1250


32 7/8 × 31 3/4 × 15 9/16 inches (83.5 × 80.6 × 39.5 cm) Weight: 660 lb. (299.37 kg)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

* Gallery 331, Asian Art, third floor (Dutt Gallery)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Joseph E. Temple Fund, 1966

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Nandi (Joy) is the name of the humped, or zebu, bull, which when represented in Indian art conveys the presence of the Hindu god Shiva. Like the anthropomorphic images of divinity, those of the sacred bull are carved in many different styles but are primarily a contribution of the art of South India. Generally these sculptures were placed in a temple facing the sanctuary that held the main symbol of Shiva. The posture of these animal figures is usually the same: they recline in a slightly asymmetrical way, as if having just lowered themselves into this position with their legs and tail tucked under and with the head attentively raised in a noble attitude. Here, intricate garlands of jewelry, bells, and other trappings and linear accents all carved like filigreework enhance this monumental yet sensitively modeled animal manifestation of a god. Stella Kramrisch, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 53.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.