Elegantly posed with jeweled festoons suspended from his belt, pendant ear ornaments and an elaborately domed hair arrangement called jatamukata
, Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction (and regeneration), is shown flanked by worshipful celestial couples.
Shiva's dynamic thrice-bent pose called tribhanga is inextricably related to the prescribed motions of body, limbs, and hand gestures of classical Indian dance. While acutely aware of the human anatomy, south Asian sculptors rarely indicated musculature. The concern of the artist was not anatomical correctness and realistic portraiture of human emotion, but rather the portrayal of a flawless, godly image. A sense of the divine is masterfully achieved through intensely idealized beauty that has no mundane human references. It is a type of beauty distinct from the more naturalistic western traditions, and an effective metaphor for the divine essence. This statue is probably from the exterior wall of a temple dedicated to Shiva.