Lakulisha (Shiva) Sculpture


Sandstone sculpture of Lakulisha, an aspect of the Hindu god ShivaPhoto: British Museum

This sandstone sculpture (India, ~700 A.D.) shows Lakulisha, an aspect of the Hindu god Shiva, standing on the vanquished dwarf of ignorance, Apasmara, and flanked by two diminutive figures.

Shiva fulfills the role of the destroyer in the Hindu trinity. Here we can see some of the god's more common and characteristic features: the all-seeing third eye symbolic of his superior powers, the erect phallus indicating his omnipotent and creative nature, and Apasmara, a symbol of illusion, ignorance and ego. Shiva holds a bead in a rosary in his right hand, to symbolize his ascetic nature, and a spear, symbolic of his power. Shiva's more common attribute, the trident, is personified here by the two male figures that flank the central image. Both figures, with their hands clasped respectfully before the god, have tridents above their heads.