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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Unknown Artist
The Worship of Parvati and Shiva as Mahadeva by Brahma and Vishnu
Work Type
c. 1800
Creation Place: South Asia, India, Himachal Pradesh, Guler
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper; Pahari Style, Kangra School
31.12 x 23.18 cm (12 1/4 x 9 1/8 in.)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of John Kenneth Galbraith
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and one of the members of the Hindu trinity (trimurti), is seated with his wife, Parvati, on a hexagonal-based throne. Shiva has a halo that encircles his head and wears a crown. Three of his four arms are visible: His top right holds up an axe, his bottom left reaches out in gesture, and his bottom left holds a small deer, one of his attributes. Parvati, wearing an orange dress, holds up a lotus blossom in her right hand, while she gestures with her left. Behind the throne are two female attendants; one holds up an umbrella (chattri), while the other a fly whisk, both symbols that represent sacred and secular veneration. Facing Shiva and Parvati are three figures. The furthest appears to be a king; the one in the middle, with four heads and hands in prayer, is Brahma, Hindu god of creation; the blue-skinned figure bowing in respect and holding a conch shell is Vishnu, the Hindu god of preservation. Brahma and Vishnu make up the other two members of the Hindu trinity. They are venerating Shiva as the Mahadeva, meaning, “the greatest god”. The figures are enclosed within a gazebo-like structure decorated with flowers. At the base of the structure is a blue-skinned attendant. At the bottom of the image is a group of figures who line up at the entrance of the structure, in front of another blue-skinned attendant who guards the door. Among the figures is Surya, the Sun god, with orange skin and an orange halo, and Chandra the Moon God, with white skin and a white halo. On the right is a small structure that contains small figures playing instruments. The background is filled with towers and architectural structures, denoting the vastness of the complex. Pahari Style, Kangra School.

Exhibition History

  • Ambassador's Choice: The Galbraith Collection of Indian Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/15/1986 - 04/06/1986
  • Rasika, the Discerning Connoisseur: Indian Paintings from the John Kenneth Galbraith Collection, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/1998 - 04/05/1998

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at