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Iconic Representations of Shiva
Beliefs and Legends >>Shiva


While, the non-anthropomorphic Lingam form of Shiva, is primarily held in worship in all Saivite temples, the iconic forms  or archa murthys of Shiva have been carved in stone (in the devakosthas or niches - and in temple towers and panels), and frozen in metal and held in worship for centuries together.

The earliest examples of these carvings are from the Elephanta and the Ellora caves in Maharashtra of the Gupta period, Badami, Aihole in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Mahabalipuram and other Pallava sites in Tamilnadu, Chamba and Bhramour in North India.

The best specimen of these images are seen from the Chola period of the earlier portion of the 2nd millennium CE. Also to be mentioned are the fine bronzes which also date back to the same period.

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The commonly seen iconic representations of Shiva are Nataraja, Somaskanda, Chandrasekhara, Bhikshatana, Dakshinamurthy, Lingodbhava, Sukhasanamurthy, Vaivahikamurthy, Uma Maheswara, Rishabharuda, Tripurantaka, Harihara (or the Shiva Vishnu manifestation), Ardhanareeswara (the Shiva-Shakti manifestation), Chandesanugrahamurthy (Shiva blessing Chandikeswara), Kaalasamhaaramurthy and Sadasiva.

See Also All about Shiva