Description & Technical information

A monumental statue of Nandi, the mount or vahana of the Hindu deity Shiva, in the form of a zebu bull. Monumental figures of vahanas were commonly carved for temporary use, to be processed through towns and displayed outside temples. They were replaced regularly due to the degradation of the wood in the hot and humid southern Indian climate. The paintwork on this bull correlates with depictions of the Shiva atop Nandi originating from 19th century Tamil Nadu in the British Museum (accession nos 2007,3005.16 and 1993,0806,0.77). The highly textured floral motifs on the rim of the saddle, the harness, and in the floral garland, correspond to depictions of Nandi originating from Thanjavur, in Tamil Nadu.1 Very similar wooden Nandi statues are found in the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore (accession no. 1995-01825) and the Museum of Asian Art, Berlin (accession no. I 5958), both of which originate from 19th-20th century South India.

n.b. acession nos are clickable links

1 See Chakravarthy, Pradeep. Thanjavur: A Cultural History. New Delhi: Niyogi Books, 2010.