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HOME : Asian Art : Art of Indonesia : Indonesian Basalt Sculpture of Nandi
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Indonesian Basalt Sculpture of Nandi - X.0587
Origin: Indonesia
Circa: 16 th Century AD to 18 th Century AD
Dimensions: 19" (48.3cm) high x 26" (66.0cm) wide
Collection: Asian
Medium: Basalt

Location: United States
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Nandi the bull-calf is the mount or vehicle of Lord Shiva. As Shiva’s most devoted disciple, his image is often placed directly opposite Shiva’s shrine in Hindu temples. Regularly honoured by worshippers with offerings of flowers and incense, sculptures of Nandi are often touched in the hope that devotees will be able to imitate the strength of his devotion to Shiva. It is not known when these two deities first came to be associated but there is a long history of devotion to bulls in Asia. The early civilisation of the Indus Valley in particular (c. 3000-2000 BC) clearly held the bull in high veneration- producing images in stone and terracotta. In Sanskrit Nandi means ‘joyfulness’ or ‘He who gives joy.’ This refers to the emotions experienced by the devotee in the presence of Shiva.

Carved from the volcanic rock basalt, this magnificent sculpture is full of character. The bull is depicted in a recumbent pose, with his legs tucked beneath the body. Seated on an ornately carved lotus pedestal, the bull has his head twisted back, looking over his shoulder. It is possible that this sculpture was positioned in the gateway of a temple dedicated to Shiva and that Nandi’s gaze directed the worshippers to the main shrine. The expression is friendly and the mouth is slightly parted with the hint of a smile. A wide string of bells/beads is hung around the neck, carved in high relief. A lightly incised rectangular cloth is draped across the back with what appears to be an open lotus flower above. The relaxed pose is reinforced by the playful way in which the tail is draped over the back. This is a charming and well-executed piece that will appeal to all serious collectors of Asian art. (AM) - (X.0587)


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