Karaikkal Ammaiyar, Shaiva Saint

India (Tamil Nadu)

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 240

Ammaiyar, a sixth-century South Indian Shaiva poet saint, achieved her emaciated state after beseeching Shiva to free her from all her worldly encumbrances, including her famed beauty. He granted her wish, transforming her into a withered old woman, and she delighted in devoting her life to composing hymns in praise of her Lord. Here, she is seen singing Shiva’s praises, accompanying herself with a pair of cymbals. Her hymns celebrate Shiva’s predilection for cremation grounds and for his wild dancing form as Nataraja.

Karaikkal Ammaiyar, Shaiva Saint, Copper alloy, India (Tamil Nadu)

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