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Arts of Asia

The MFAH collections of art from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia reflect Houston’s diverse communities. Ancient and contemporary works are displayed together to create innovative juxtapositions.

 

 
 
 
INDIA
Parvati
11th century
Bronze

21 x 8 1/2 x 6 3/8 inches

 
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by
the Agnes Cullen Arnold Endowment Fund

Arts of Asia
 
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The goddess Parvati was the consort of Shiva, one of the supreme deities in Hinduism. She was the daughter of the Himalayas and the mother of the gods Ganesh and Skanda. This bronze figure was created as part of a set for use in temple worship during the Chola dynasty which flourished from the 9th century  to the 13th century.

Parvati was the reincarnated form of Sati, Shiva's first consort who sacrificed herself to defend his name and honor. When Sati returned as Parvati, she was received as the goddess of the household, motherhood, marriage, and family. Parvati's loving nature awakened Shiva's concern for humanity, and it was under her influence that the ascetic and stoical god became the lord of music and dance. Though Parvati is generally considered a benevolent deity, she also has more aggressive incarnations, such as the fearsome warrior Kali.

This figure's -shaped pose is called the tribhanga stance, which means "bent in three places" and appears frequently in South Asian sculpture. Parvati is bedecked with jewels, and the fine material of her garments clings to her body. She stands upon a lotus blossom, which signifies her divine status.