Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Linga Altar with Four Faces of Shiva

Thakuri period
dated 1045
Nepal (Kathmandu Valley)
Copper alloy
H. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm); L. 7 in. (17.8 cm); Diam. of base 5 in. (6.8 cm); Wt. 15 lbs (6.8 kg)
Credit Line:
Samuel Eilenberg Collection, Gift of Samuel Eilenberg, 1987
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 252
Shiva linga are variously represented as an unadorned pillar or with one, four, or five heads of Shiva. This linga altar has a four-faced form (chaturmukha). It is banded, likely with munja grass holy to Shiva, alluding to the taming of Shiva’s phallic energies through his supreme asceticism achieved by yogic practices (tapas). The Newari inscription states that King Bhaskaradeva gave the altar in the year Samvat 166.
Samuel Eilenberg , New York (until 1987; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Lotus Transcendent: Indian and Southeast Asian Art from the Samuel Eilenberg Collection," October 2, 1991–June 28, 1992.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art of the Himalayas," December 15, 2010–December 4, 2011.

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