--> Skip to main content

Rare Idol of Lord Shiva was bought by Cleveland Museum

The four-faced rare idol of Lord Shiva which was sold for $4.07 million at Sotheby's New York on March 23, 2007 is now the proud possession of Cleveland Museum. The sculpture combines the attributes of Shiva as the destroyer and Brahma as the creator to encapsulate the Hindu belief in death, reincarnation and progress toward perfection, said Stainslaw Czuma, who urged Cleveland Museum to invest on the idol.

From Cleveland Blog

"This is the crowning of my career," said Stanislaw Czuma, who retired in 2005 after 33 years as the museum's curator of Indian and Southeast Asian art, and who urged the museum to buy the work. "From every level you approach it, this is a fantastic acquisition."

Czuma said the sculpture probably adorned an outdoor niche on the north side of a major temple in southern India, but it is not known when the work was removed. He said it was the finest of a group of five major stone statues of Shiva as Brahma acquired by American museums before World War II.

In the sculpture, Shiva is sitting on a double lotus blossom. He has a third eye and four heads, each looking in one of the cardinal directions, Czuma said. The deity's four arms indicate his special powers. Two of his hands hold a lotus and a rosary. The other two hands are positioned in gestures of blessing and teaching.

"The carving is fantastic," Czuma said. "You almost feel the flesh of the image. It was a really great master that created it."

The Cleveland Blog has a wonderful picture of this rare idol.