Nandi, Shiva's Bull

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Tamil Nadu, India, Asia

Medieval Period

c. 1200


21 1/4 × 16 1/2 × 29 3/4 inches (54 × 41.9 × 75.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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The bull Nandi ("rejoicing") is the Hindu god Shiva's vehicle and his complementary image. Shiva is a great ascetic whose power emerges as contained sexual energy. Appropriately, he is accompanied by the virile bull. An image of Nandi sits in the hall or porch of temples dedicated to Shiva, facing into the sanctum like the primary devotee that it is. This sculpture comes from a temple in the southern India. The granitic stone from which it is carved is more difficult to work than the softer stones used for most northern Indian sculpture, resulting in a bolder, less-detailed image.