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This early and rare image shows the Hindu god Shiva standing on an inscribed base in front of a garland-bedecked pillar presenting his phallic emblem (linga). Dressed simply, wearing a crown, earrings, necklace, and bracelets, the figure is virtually identical in its stance and gestures with images of other deities produced from the same mottled red sandstone during the early centuries CE at Mathura. This modest sized image was produced by sculptors who serviced an ever changing community of pilgrims who came to Mathura, then a major religious center for all the great religions of India. A votive icon, this image like many others was commissioned by a pilgrim to obtain merit, to fulfill a promise made to the god or to guarantee some material benefit now or in the future. The image has a tenon projecting from it’s base that indicates that it was originally part of a larger monument.
Penn Museum Object Number: 29-64-4