Period: Shahi period
Date: 9th century
Medium: White marble
Dimensions: H. 22 7/16 in. (57 cm); W. 13 3/16 in. (33.5 cm)
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1980
Accession Number: 1980.415
The linga (phallic emblem of Shiva) symbolizes the great generative force of the universe. It is usually the most sacred object in a temple dedicated to Shiva and is housed in the main sanctum. When plain (simply phallic), the linga represents Shiva in his most abstract form. In this example, Shiva's face has emerged from the central shaft. He is adorned with earrings and a necklace and his hair is worn in a double bun with a crescent moon on one of the buns.
This sculpture was made during the short-lived Shahi kingdom (seventh—ninth century) of eastern Afghanistan, which produced a small number of extraordinary sculptures. They were carved in a distinctive white marble and their style derived from sculptural traditions of northern India and Kashmir.