Sunteți pe pagina 1din 35

Dancing Śiva Images from Bengal1

Anna Ślączka

Depictions of dancing Śiva are common all over India. The area in the northeast of the Indian
Subcontinent, however, produced a number of images of a distinct iconographic type that occur
almost exclusively there and, occasionally, in a few adjacent regions: Śiva dancing on the back of his
'vehicle', the bull (vṛṣa or vṛṣabha). Several such images were already listed by Bhattasali in his
important and still consulted Iconography of Buddhist and Brahmanical Sculptures in the Dacca Museum
(1929). Since then several more images came to light and a number of them have been included in
new monographs and articles on the subject. The publications, however, vary considerably among
each other as far as the descriptions of the sculptures are concerned, giving at times different find
location, attributes, and even a different number of arms for one and the same image. A new attempt
to catalogue these fascinating sculptures seemed therefore necessary.
In the course of my research, I could identify thirty-nine images of Śiva dancing on the bull (for an
overview, see Appendix). Twenty-five originate from Bengal, either the present state of West Bengal
in India or Bangladesh. Seven images are from other regions of India, five from Nepal and,
interestingly, at least three are known to have come from Vietnam. All examples from outside
Bengal seem to be of a later date, suggesting that they developed under influence of Bengal art.

Images from Bengal

Eight-armed images
As noted by Bhattasali, the images from Bengal can be divided into two groups: those with ten arms
and those with twelve. Yet, more recent publications do mention eight-armed images as well. Haque
(1992: 149) lists an eight-armed dancing Śiva preserved in the Kālī temple in the village of Koshjuri
(Purulia),2 located in West Bengal, northwest of Calcutta. Unfortunately, no photograph is given.
The image is apparently 'much weathered' and 'except the pair of hands clasping over the head of
the god, no other attributes can be recognized' (ibid.).
Dasgupta (1995) also discusses an eight-armed image. Here the photograph is provided and one sees
that the uppermost arms of the deity are clasped over the head as, apparently, on the
Koshjuri/Krosjuri sculpture. Contrary to the latter, however, and in spite of some damage to the
sculpture, some attributes can be identified (Fig. 1). There is a ḍamaru-drum in one of the upper right
hands, the hand directly below seems to hold a rosary, and in the lowermost left hand one can
distinguish an object resembling a water-pot.3 According to Dasgupta (1994, 1995 and 2003), the
image comes from Udra or Adra, near Bamunara, 'a village about three kilometers from the steel-city
of Durgapur in the district of Burdwan, West Bengal' (Dasgupta 1995: 290). It was, in the time when
Dasgupta came to know about it, 'still unnoticed and lying in neglect in situ near a Śiva temple called
Bhuvaneswar'. After a long search, I was able to verify this information. The sculpture seems to be
still in situ, but the name of the temple is Rarhesvara (Rāḍheśvara). It is indeed located in the village
of Bamun Ara (Bamunara) in the sector called Bhubanesar-Sivtala, P.S. Durgapur, in the
Barddhaman district. The image is still worshipped as a grāmadevatā by the local population. This
example illustrates the difficulties of cataloguing the Bengali images properly.
Ten-armed images
All remaining images originating from Bengal have either ten (nine examples) or twelve arms (ten
examples).5 Within these, sub-groups can be distinguished based on the hand gestures and the
Studies in South Asian Heritage 126

attributes. For example, the ten-armed images from Sankarbandha (Rampal, Dhaka district; fig. 2),
Kachua (Comilla district; sometimes listed as an image from Palgiri; figs. 3-4),6 Bhauranagar
(Nasilnagar, Comilla district; fig. 5),7 and Melakkadambur (Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu; figs. 6-
7),8 form a coherent group. The image from Melakkadambur is the only known antique bronze
depiction of Śiva dancing on the bull.9 Although housed at present in a South Indian temple, it
certainly originates from Bengal, most probably from the area of Dhaka or Comilla. On the carvings
belonging to this group, Śiva has one of his main arms in the gajahasta or elephant-trunk gesture
while the second one is raised and does not hold any weapons. Further, there is a sword (khaḍga, on
the right) and a shield (kheṭaka, on the left) in the uppermost pair of arms, and one of the lower left
hands invariably holds a kapāla, the skull-bowl. In the remaining right hands Śiva holds a trident
(triśūla), staff (daṇḍa) and spear (śakti) and on the left there is a khaṭvāṅga and a snake-noose (nāga-
pāśa; on the image of Melakkadambur in the lowermost hand). The Śiva from Bhauranagar has the
two lowest right hands broken off but one can assume that the attributes were the same as on the
other images from the group. This interesting sculpture, which does not seem to have been
published previously, shows some similarities with the Sankarbandha image in the style of the
pointed halo behind Śiva's head and the presence of numerous attendant deities crowding the stela.
Unfortunately, the right side, including the lower right arms and the right leg, is damaged, and a
photograph of the lower part of the stela, perhaps damaged as well, could not be obtained.10
One might perhaps also include in this group the Śiva from Ballala Badi in Rampal (Dhaka district)
that shows, although to a lesser extent, many correspondences with the aforementioned images. Its
uppermost arms and the principal right arm are, unfortunately, broken, but it is still possible to
recognize the gajahasta-gesture and the common attributes: a shield, khaṭvāṅga, snake-noose and
kapāla on the left, and a spear, trident and staff on the right (fig. 8). Contrary to the sculptures from
Sankarbandha, Kachua and Melakkadambur, however, the gajahasta is shown on the left (the same
as on the Bhauranagar image), and the corresponding arm, now broken, perhaps displayed the
The object held by one of Śiva's right hands as depicted on the images from Kachua, Rampal and
Melakkadambur has frequently been identified as a vajra.11 Yet, the weapon in question looks rather
like a spear (śakti), with only one point sharpened. The only case where it does resemble a genuine
vajra is the image from Kachua (see fig. 4). It should be remembered, however, that a spear and a
vajra are sometimes depicted in the same way, for instance in South Indian representations of
A few other attributes also presented a problem. For example, according to some, the Śiva from
Kachua holds a bow.13 Further, according to Sivaramamurti (1974: 290-291), the Sankarbandha Śiva
carries a sword, lance, staff, trident, shield, skull-bowl, snake, rosary and khaṭvāṅga, and one of his
hands is in the varada-gesture. He does not mention the gajahasta. While it is impossible to know for
sure what went wrong here, it seems plausible that Sivaramamurti misinterpreted the lowermost left
hand as showing the varada. Yet, on the images from Kachua, Melakkadambur, Bhauranagar and
Rampal, which form the closest parallels to the Sankarbandha sculpture, this hand, although with its
palm directed downwards, holds the skull-bowl. Shown from the side, it is sometimes no more than
a crescent moon-shaped object in the palm of the hand, but it is always there.14 As for the rosary, it
seems altogether absent, unless one assumes that it was once held by the raised left arm, now partly
damaged. It seems more plausible, however, that the raised arm of the Sankarbandha Śiva was
meant to represent either the 'waving arm' mentioned in Sanskrit literature (see below) or a patāka-
gesture. The same gesture can also be seen on the images from Kachua, Bhauranagar and
Melakkadambur. Bhattacharya (2002: 56) interprets the raised arm on the Kachua image as an
abhaya, but it does not seem convincing.
The posture of the dancing Śiva has sometimes been referred to as a vaiśākha-sthānaka.15 The source of
the term is a passage from the Matsyapurāṇa (259.10) that describes a 10-armed dancing Śiva bearing
similar attributes, but not standing or dancing on the bull. The passage has been noticed by
Bhattasali (1929: 111) and, subsequently, Banerjea (1985: 280), and begun to be considered a possible
textual source for the dancing Śiva images from Bengal. It should be noted, however, that vaiśākha as
described in the well-known treatises on dance, such as the Nātyaśāstra, as well as in the
Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, is not a dance position at all. It is a position from archery, often listed
together with ālīḍha and pratyālīḍha, usually not mentioned in connection with dancing deities. The
Matsyapurāṇa, and a few early Śaiva pratiṣṭhātantras that still await edition, form thus an exception
here. Moreover, in a 'classical' vaiśākha both feet should be placed flatly on the surface. This is not
seen on any of the images under discussion where at least one of Śiva's feet is always lifted.16
The image from Rayerkathi (fig. 9) is not very well known and seems to have only been published
once (Sastri 1957, fig. 3). It is preserved in the Bangladesh National Museum, but it has not been
included in the list given by Haque (1992).17 It shows a combination of elements occurring in both
the ten-armed and the twelve-armed varieties. The attributes are typical of the ten-armed sub-group,
to which belong the images of Kachua, Sankarbandha, Bhauranagar and Melakkadambur. These are,
on the right: a sword, trident, spear and staff and, on the left: a shield, khaṭvāṅga, noose (? a round
object on a long 'stick'), and kapāla. The kapāla is shown from the side, in the same way as on the
other images from the group. But the principal pair of arms does not display the gajahasta and the
'waving hand' but hold a vīṇā, which is a characteristic of the twelve-armed variety. Śiva's consorts,
present in all but a few Bengali dancing Śiva images, are not represented, and the two gaṇas flanking
the main figure are shown seated, which again is an unusual trait.
The remaining ten-armed images of Śiva are all very different, as different are the regions where
they were found: Govindapur (24 Parganas, West Bengal), Harirampur (Dakshin Dinajpur) and the
area around Paharpur (Naogaon). The Govindapur Śiva (fig. 10) shows some similarities to the
Rampal sculpture in the hand gestures: the left arm is extended forward although not in a gajahasta:
the thumb and the index finger are joined in a gesture resembling a reversed jñāna-mudrā (fig. 11);
the corresponding right hand shows an abhaya (fig. 12). The overall style of the carving differs from
that of the other sculptures, the raised arms form a regular pattern around the torso, and the
attributes include a ḍamaru-drum, which is absent from the Kachua, Sankarbandha,
Melakkadambur, Rampal and, presumably, the Bhauranagar images, its place being occupied by the
staff. Another unusual element is the string of severed heads worn instead of a flower garland seen
on the examples from Kachua, Sankarbandha and Bhauranagar, and the absence of the consorts:
Gaṅgā and Gaurī, depicted on the images from Kachua, Sankarbandha and Rampal.18 The
Govindapur Śiva was first mentioned in the ASIAR 1930-34 and then extensively described by
Dasgupta (2003), but his article did not include a photograph. According to Dasgupta, after the
discovery, the sculpture belonged to Kalidas Datta, an antiquarian of Mazilpur, who first notified
the ASI about it. After Datta passed away, no other study of the sculpture has been conducted, and,
according to Dasgupta, `the present whereabouts [of the sculpture] are not known’. Haque (1992:
150-151) includes the carving in his discussion of dancing Śiva images from Bengal, but he does not
seem to be aware of its current location. Yet, a small photograph included in the ARI report allows
us to identify an 'Eastern Indian' sculpture, now at display in the National Museum, New Delhi, as
the 'lost' Śiva from Govindapur.19
Another ten-armed Śiva from Bengal can be seen in the Asutosh Museum of the University of
Calcutta (fig. 13). The deity holds, on the right, a ḍamaru-drum, an elongated object (probably a
spear), and a rosary, and on the left, a khaṭvāṅga (or another long weapon), a skull-bowl and a snake-
noose. With the principal hands the god plays a vīṇā, and the uppermost pair, now only partly
Studies in South Asian Heritage 128

visible (the upper part of the sculpture is missing), was held upwards, the hands perhaps clasped
above the head. Presumably due to the presence of the vīṇā, which is a common attribute among the
twelve-arm-variety, the image was classified by Haque (151 and 388) as twelve-armed. This Śiva is
much smaller than most other known examples, and must have formed a part of a larger
architectural fragment. Unfortunately, there are no known parallels.
The last of the ten-armed images, the Śiva from Harirampur, has been described as a 'miniature
sculpture' with 'the main two [arms] held in rhythm with the dance, and the others grasping his
different attributes' (Saraswati 1932: 194). It was found, together with a few other sculptures, in a
dilapidated brick shrine (Kālībārī) 'with no pretensions to antiquity', and was in that time still in
worship. Unfortunately, no photograph is provided, and I was not able to find any additional
information. The present location of the sculpture is unknown.20 The only other 'miniature image'
from approximately the same region is the aforementioned Śiva of the Asutosh Museum. It is,
however, very unlikely that both are one and the same sculpture: Saraswati does not say that the
Harirampur image was broken (which, of course, could also happen later) or a part of a larger
sculpture, and the main arms of the Asutosh Śiva do not express the 'rhythm of the dance' but hold a
Twelve-armed images
Twelve-armed images were discovered in Ranihati (Dhaka; sometimes listed as an image from
Outshahi),21 Uttar Raikhal (Dhaka; sometimes listed as Vikramapura),22 Natghar (Comilla),23 Bharella
(Comilla, formerly Tripura), Kalikal (or Kalikala; Dhaka), Durgapur (Chittagong), and Maniari
(Naogaon, Rajshahi). Furthermore, there is a stela in the Bangladesh National Museum (BNM) in
Dhaka with the accession number 80.644,24 and a fragmentary image of a dancing Śiva in the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art. Moreover, one image, the exact provenance of which is unknown,
is preserved in the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi. 25 Very close similarities can be observed
between the carvings from Ranihati (figs. 14-15), Uttar Raikhal (fig. 16), the BNM 80.644 (figs. 17-18),
Kalikal (only upper part of which remains) and Natghar (fig. 19), with the first two being nearly
identical in all respects of style and iconography, which suggests that they were probably made in
the same workshop. On all five images the uppermost pair of arms is raised with the hands clasped
above the head, the second pair holds a giant snake with its anthropomorphic torso visible on the
right, and the principal pair holds a vīṇā. It should be noted that contrary to what can be found in
some publications, the first pair of hands does not show añjali-gesture,26 neither it depicts the
clapping of the hands to accompany the dance.27 The hands are not placed side by side with palms
against each other like in a classical añjali. Instead, the fingers are interlocked, with the exception of
the index fingers, which, at least on some sculptures, are stretched up (see the images from Uttar
Raikhal and BNM 80.644 as well as the one from Maniari). We should agree with Bhattacharya (1991:
314; 2002: 56) speaking about the Maniari image that the hands show a particular dancing posture.
On the sculptures from Ranihati, Uttar Raikhal and Kalikal, the remaining hands show, on the right,
a rosary, a ḍamaru-drum and a gesture resembling varada, and, on the left, a trident, a skull-bowl and
a water vessel (in the Kalikal image the hands that probably held the rosary and the water-vessel are
broken). The same as in the case of the ten-armed images also here the skull-bowl has sometimes
remained unnoticed. The way it is represented differs from that of the ten-armed images from
Kachua, Rampal and Melakkadambur, but it is perhaps even more difficult to see. It is depicted from
the top, sometimes indicated by no more than an oval edge on the palm of the hand. The hand, in
which it is held, has a few times been described as showing a varada-mudrā,28 presumably because
the fingers are directed downwards, but such interpretation is incorrect, the varada being already
shown by the lowermost right hand. The famous inscribed image from Bharella (fig. 20), entire when
found, but now broken in two parts of which only fragments survive, might possibly also belong to
this group. The upper fragment shows the hands clasped above the head, a part of the giant snake,
remains of a vīṇā and, on the left, a trident and a skull-bowl.
The BNM 80.644 resembles closely the aforementioned images, but the lowermost right hand is not
showing a varada: the fingers are pointing downwards, but the palm of the hand is not directed
towards the viewer but towards the deity's body. Moreover, the thumb and the index finger are
joined, the same as on the Govindapur image. The kapāla is shown from the side, like on the ten-
armed images and it is held high, on the level with the trident (fig. 17). The top of the stela is
decorated with a curious image of a bull whose head changes into a liṅga (fig. 18). Such a bull-liṅga
can also be observed on the sculpture from Uttar Raikhal, but is otherwise not accounted for, the
uppermost part of the stelae being frequently occupied by a seated figure of Śiva.
The stela from Natghar, whose present location is unknown, has only been published once
(Bhattasali 1929, pl. XLV, 3A(ii)a/[2]; in his time it was still under worship in the village) and the
quality of the photograph is not very high.29 It is nevertheless possible to see that some attributes are
different than in the previous examples. For instance, instead of a water-vessel, there is a snake-
noose in the lowermost left hand, the lowermost right hand does not show the varada but may hold a
ḍamaru (the gesture resembles perhaps the one seen on the BNM 80.644), and the one directly above
it holds an elongated object: a staff, a spear or a trident (fig. 19). 30
The inscribed Śiva from Maniari (Rajshahi; figs. 21-25), extensively described by Bhattacharya (1991)
and Rahman (1998: 153-154), is very different from those discussed above. The raised hands, the
giant snake and the vīṇā are still present, and the attributes are the usual ones: on the right a ḍamaru,
noose,31 and rosary (here in the lowermost right hand), on the left a kapāla, triśūla and water vessel.
But the kapāla is shown from the side, the water vessel is richly decorated, and there is no varada.
Moreover, the jaṭās are arranged differently, there is a chain instead of the flower-garland, and the
top of the stela displays a large kīrtimukha. The snake and the bull are much smaller in proportion to
the principal image, and both Śiva and his consorts stand in a cross-legged position, Śiva touching
the bull only with his toes – a position not found elsewhere. The consorts are Gaṅgā and Yamunā
that replace the more common Gaṅgā and Gaurī – the difference clearly visible in their respective
mounts: a makara and a tortoise (see figs. 24-25). They are holding fly-whisks (cāmara) and are
accompanied by two female attendants. The fact that the image was made in Maniari, located in the
Varendra region might explain its rather peculiar iconography.
The twelve-armed image of Śiva dancing on the bull preserved in the National Museum of Pakistan
represents, again, a distinct type (fig. 26). The same as the Śiva from the Asutosh Museum, it
combines, in a unique way, elements of the ten-armed and twelve-armed images. While the hands
clasped above the head and the giant snake, a characteristic of the twelve-armed images, are still
present, Śiva's principal arms do not hold a vīṇā. Instead, the main right arm extends in a gajahasta-
mudrā in a manner typical for the ten-armed images, while the left one is raised high above the head
holding an elongated object, perhaps a khaṭvāṅga. The second pair of hands rests on the thighs and
holds the ends of a short string of severed heads, a gesture not found elsewhere. Further, there is a
trident and a dagger-like knife with a curved blade on the right, and a chopper knife (?) and a kapāla
on the left. The chopper and the knife are certainly unusual here. Knifes of this type are more
commonly found on Cāmuṇḍā images. For example, a knife of an identical shape is held by a
Cāmuṇḍā from Rampal where it also corresponds to a kapāla.32 There are a few other similarities
between these two carvings: the Cāmuṇḍā is also adorned with a similarly looking, albeit longer,
garland of severed heads, and both deities are surrounded by attendants depicted on rather simple,
shelf-like supports.33
Studies in South Asian Heritage 130

The image preserved in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is unfortunately badly mutilated
(see Pal 1988: fig. 99). All the lower part, including the lower portion of the legs and the bull mount,
and the entire back slab are missing. Nevertheless, the posture of the deity, the ornaments, and the
still recognizable attributes: a water vessel in the lowermost left hand, a kapāla directly above it, and
the remains of a vīṇā above the left shoulder and on the right thigh, make it possible to identify the
carving as belonging to the twelve-armed variety, most probably originating from the present-day
south or southeast Bangladesh. It seems to be the only such image in a Western collection.
Finally, there is the stela discovered in or near Durgapur (Chittagong district), mentioned in the
ASIAR 1924-25 and preserved, until present, in the Indian Museum, Calcutta. 34 The image is much
weathered, but one can still recognize the outline of a deity standing on a bull (fig. 27). The god is
twelve-handed and holds in his uppermost arms a long, horizontally placed shape, presumably the
giant snake. One of the arms shows the gajahasta-gesture. None of the attributes can be recognized
anymore, but it is certain that the deity did not have one pair of hands raised and clasped above the
Fragments of images
Of the remaining three images from Bengal only fragments survive, often too small to determine the
number of arms of the principal deity. To my knowledge, only one such fragment has been
published (Bhattasali 1929, pl. XLIV, 3A. (ii) a/4). Discovered in a temple at Churain near Rampal
(Dhaka district) and now in the Bangladesh National Museum in Dhaka, it shows the lower part of
the stela, broken off directly above the bull's torso. Flanking the bull there are the vehicles (vāhana) of
Śiva's two consorts: a makara and a tortoise. With the exception of the Śiva from Maniari, this is the
only sculpture of Śiva dancing on the back of the bull, in which Yamunā (usually depicted atop a
tortoise) replaces Gaurī (whose vehicle is a lion). The second published example is the stela from
Vishnupur (Bishnupur) in the Bankura district in West Bengal (Chattopadhaya 2010). The stela is not
broken, but all its upper part has been damaged and only figures to be distinguished now are the
dancing bull and four attendants dancing and playing music.
Another damaged image was found in or in the vicinity of Arial (Dhaka district), and in 1934 it was
kept in the newly opened Vikrampur Arial Museum (Basu 1934: 640). The short note mentioning it
describes it as a 'Natarāja of the Bengal type' and adds that it is 'broken'. No photograph is provided.
Even though it is not said explicitly, one can assume that it is a Śiva-dancing-on-the-bull type.35 One
more image was mentioned by Haque (1992: 388). It is originating from 'North Bengal' and
preserved in the Mahasthan Museum in Bogra. The image does not seem to be on display.
With these fragmentary sculptures, the list of Bengali depictions of Śiva dancing on the bull is
completed. Dasgupta (1995: 291, n.7 and 2003: 6, n.1), however, mentions a few more images, which I
was not able to trace.36 These are two images from Munshiganj (Dhaka), both now in the Bangladesh
National Museum; the second one has the acc. no. 87.462 and is described as 'the latest acquisition of
the museum'.37 Apparently, the image was discovered in the village of Sonarang of
Tongibari/Tangibadi police station, Munshiganj.38 In one of his articles, Dasgupta (2003: 6, n. 2)
mentions also an image from Khowai, Tripura. According to him, it belongs to the twelve-armed
variety and is similar to those found in Dhaka and Comilla regions. The image formed part of a
private collection at Khowai and its present location is not known. It should be added that some of
the sculptures listed by Dasgupta might actually be the same as those described above, with their
find location or accession number erroneously recorded.

Images from other regions of India

As mentioned at the beginning of this study, at least seven sculptures showing Śiva dancing on the
bull have been discovered in regions other than Bengal, namely Assam, Orissa, Chattisgarh and
Andhra Pradesh. Furthermore, one sculpture, which may or may not depict the same topic, was
found in Patna, Bihar. The two images from Assam, now preserved at the Assam State Museum in
Guwahati, resemble the ten-armed variety from Bengal, but there are also important differences. The
stela discovered in 1970 during the excavation at Ambari39 shows a ten-armed Śiva with, on the
right, a sword, spear (or a dagger?), staff, trident, and the varada and, on the left, a shield, skull-bowl,
snake-noose, a weapon resembling aṅkuśa, and a hand showing an abhaya and holding a rosary (fig.
28).40 The dancing position is different than on the images from Bengal: Śiva touches the back of the
bull only with his right leg while the left leg is raised. The stela is plain, the only decoration being
the kīrtimukha on the top, and the only attendants the emaciated Bhṛṅgī to the right and the
Mahākāla to the left. The second sculpture preserved in the Museum was found near Uzanbazar in
Guwahati, in the river bed of the Brahmaputra. It is a tondo with an ornamented rim as the only
decoration (fig. 29). Also here Śiva has ten arms and touches the back of the bull with only one foot.
The attributes are, on the right, a sword, then two objects resembling a spear and a staff, and a
trident, and on the left a shield, perhaps a kapāla (the hand is damaged), a snake-noose, and an
unidentified object. Bhattacharjee (1978: 16) suggests here a vajra, but it does not seem plausible – the
object rather resembles an aṅkuśa or an axe-like weapon. Moreover, a vajra does not occur anywhere
in India as an attribute of Śiva dancing on the back of the bull. The main pair of arms is broken, but it
seems that the right hand was showing a varada-gesture.
At least three images were discovered in Orissa: in Bhubanesvar, Banpur and Khanderpur. They are
very different from their Bengali and Assamese counterparts both in style and in iconography. The
Bhubansevar sculpture forms still part of the north side of the jagamohana of the Pāpanāśinī temple
(Donaldson 1987: 1344). It is a medallion with a simple bead-like motif along the perimeter. Contrary
to the Assamese tondo, however, four attendants are depicted here: two devas41 and, above them,
two vidyādharas. The six-armed Śiva holds in his uppermost arms the giant snake, the attributes are a
ḍamaru on the right and a trident on the left. The foremost pair of hands is broken but one can still
distinguish the remains of an abhaya (right) and a gajahasta (left).
The image from Banpur also seems to be still in situ, in a niche of the 'south sandi-sthala' (ibid., 1343).
The god has eight arms, with its principal pair showing again an abhaya and a gajahasta (right and left
respectively). The uppermost hands hold the giant snake while the lowest right hand shows a varada
in the manner known from the images from Ranihati and Uttar Raikhal. The remaining right hand
holds a large ḍamaru-drum; the remaining (two) left hands are broken. A dancing attendant is shown
to the left of the deity.
The Khanderpur image, apparently originating from the Grameśvara temple near Rautrapur (ibid.),
depicts a six-armed Śiva dancing on the bull in the bhujaṅgatrāsita mode, which is highly unusual.
Again, two arms hold the giant snake and two show the abhaya and the gajahasta gestures. The
attributes are a ḍamaru and a trident. The deity is flanked by two gaṇas holding musical instruments.
The only image thus far referred to as being from Andhra Pradesh (see Michell et al 1982, fig. 484) is
preserved in the restricted collection in the National Museum, New Delhi. It resembles closely the
one of Bhubanesvar. It is a medallion with a bead-like decoration on the edge, almost identical to
that on the Bhubanesvar sculpture. The number of arms seems to be six and the attributes and hand-
gestures are the same as in the Orissa examples: on the left an abhaya and a ḍamaru, on the right a
gajahasta and a trident and in the uppermost arms the giant snake. Also here four attendants are
depicted: two gaṇas or devas and two vidyādharas. In fact, the similarities with the Bhubanesvar
medallion are so strong that a question arises about whether the attribution of this image to Andhra
is correct.
Only one image was discovered in Malhar in Chattisgarh (see Sivaramamurti 1974: fig. 236). Its
central part is, unfortunately, badly damaged. Śiva here appears to have eight arms. The attributes
Studies in South Asian Heritage 132

on the right can still be seen: a trident, staff, and (probably) a khaṭvāṅga; the arms on the left are
broken. The main right hand was raised to the chest, but the gesture as seen on the available
photograph is not easy to identify. The main left hand was extended forward (fig. 30).
Finally, one should mention the image from Bihar (see Kumar 1977). It is a pañcamukha liṅga with
figures of four divinities on its four sides and on the top. In the 1970s it was kept in the
Dudheśvaranātha temple in Ranighat in Patna. The four divinities are Gaṇeśa, Brahmā, Sarasvatī
and Sūrya. The top of the liṅga is decorated as well, which is quite unusual, showing a four-handed
deity wearing long ear-rings. The figure is standing in a dancing position with his legs bent. Below
the god's legs there is a shape that may, or may not, represent the bull. Unfortunately the relief is
badly eroded and it is impossible to see the details. Kumar (ibid., 168), the finder of the liṅga, seems
to be certain that the image belongs to the Bengali type of Śiva images. He writes: '< it can be said
definitely that the motif of this figure is to show lord Śiva himself dancing on a bull'. However, even
if the deity was a Śiva, which seems plausible, the shape below need not be a bull. It could perhaps
be an elephant-head as seen in the Gajasaṃhāramūrti representations. For this reason I did not
include the liṅga in the list given in the Appendix.

Images from outside India

Outside India, images of Śiva dancing on his mount are known from Nepal and Vietnam. The
Nepalese examples are usually of a later date and probably derived from the earlier Bengali or
Assamese carvings. The dancing Śiva from the Tusa Hiti in Patan (fig. 31) has sixteen arms holding
various attributes. The main right hand shows an abhaya, the main left hand is extended forward,
touching the right leg, which is held very high as in Assam. But the uppermost right arm is raised
above the head showing perhaps a patāka-mudrā, as seen in the ten-armed variety from Bengal. The
attributes in the right hands, three of which are broken, are not easy to identify. Sivaramamurti
(1974: 357) suggests a pāśa, vajra and khaṭvāṅga, which does not seem convincing. The uppermost
object is not easy to identify, the next one has indeed a vajra-like top, but may actually represent a
spear, in the same way as on the images from Bengal. The third attribute looks rather like a sacrificial
ladle than as a khaṭvāṅga. For the left hands, Sivaramamurti (ibid.) proposes an axe, an object
resembling a trident, ḍamaru, a long weapon, bow, aṅkuśa and cakra. Śiva wears a garland of severed
heads and is surrounded by gaṇas with animal faces. A similar sculpture is to be found at the
Mohancok fountain in Hanumandhoka (see Shrestha 1997: 129 and 147).
Another Nepalese carving shows Śiva standing in the same dancing posture with one hand
extended forward, one raised above the head and another one in an abhaya (see Pal 1985: fig. S49).
The number of arms here seems to be sixteen as in the previous example. In the remaining hands
there is a shield, bow, trident, thunderbolt, snake, water pot, conch, rosary, kettledrum, arrow and
sword (as listed by Pal ibid., 123). A few weapons cannot be recognized with certainty. The sculpture
is now preserved at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.77.22). The Museum possesses yet
another Nepalese image of Śiva dancing on the back of his mount (M.76.48.3). It is a wooden
tympanum of the type frequently found in traditional Nepali temple architecture. Śiva here is eight-
armed, but the position of the legs is the same as in the previous examples. The attributes, as given
by Pal (ibid., 129) include a flower (?), elephant goad, severed head, rosary, unidentified object,
strings, and battleaxe. Finally, there is a five-headed fourteen-armed Śiva dancing on the bull at the
National Art Gallery in Bhaktapur (Waldschmidt 1969: fig. 23).
Interestingly, Nepal produced also images of Ardhanārīśvara standing in the same position on the
back of the bull (fig. 32). In an example from the Tusa Hiti in Patan the deity is eighteen-armed, with
the main hands in abhaya and gajahasta. Next to the bull there is a lion, the vehicle of the Goddess.
Contrary to the Indian sculptures (the only exception being the Śiva of the Asutosh Museum), but
the same as in the other Nepalese examples, the animals are shown seated. On top of the main figure
there is its miniature version, with the number of arms reduced to eight, but this time the figure has
a monkey-face representing presumably the gaṇa Nandin/Nandikeśvara.
In spite of numerous depictions of the dancing Śiva in Southeast Asia, none of them show him
dancing on the back of the bull. The exception is Vietnam where at least three images survived, all of
them now preserved in the Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture. The most interesting are two large
tympana. They depict Śiva dancing on the bull, his body twisted in a rather unnatural way. One of
the reliefs has its lower part missing with only a fragment of the bull's head and the upper part of
Śiva's legs remaining (fig. 33). The number of arms on both tympana is exceptionally high, namely
twenty-eight.42 In spite of many differences – such as the position of the legs resembling rather the
Gajasamhāramūrti form of Śiva – some elements are the same as in the twelve-armed images from
Bengal: the uppermost arms are raised with the hands clasped above the head, the second pair holds
a giant snake with its human torso visible to the right, and the main pair of hands plays a vīṇā.
Moreover, at least on one of the sculptures the lowermost right hand seems to be open and holds a
round object (a rosary or a pāśa), while the corresponding left hand carries an object resembling a
water vessel, both known from the twelve-armed images. Other attributes are very difficult to
identify due to the bad condition of the reliefs. For the 'complete' one (fig. 34), however, Parmentier,
who had the chance to study the actual sculptures, suggests, on the right, 'un disque évidé' (our
rosary or a pāśa), an arrow, a bell and on the left, again, a little bell. For the sculpture missing its
lower part (fig. 33) he proposes, on the right (from bottom to top), an object being held by a handle
(instead of the round shape in the previous sculpture), an unidentified object, an arrow, an empty
hand (?), perhaps a cup, a small stick, 'un disque évidé', an unidentified object, the giant snake and a
rosary or a noose (Parmentier 1919: 43), however the last one rather looks like the upper part of a
cāmara. Furthermore, the arms directed inwards may hold a water-lily and a 'ball' (?). On the left,
there seems to be a vase, an alms-bowl, a small horn (?), a bow, a small bell or a flower [a half-round
object: perhaps a kapāla?], an aṅkuśa, and a pike (ibid., p. 44). One of the hands directed towards the
torso holds a snake. The remaining arms are broken.
The tops of both reliefs are decorated with floral motives. 43 The lower part of the 'complete' sculpture
has a small female figure holding a cāmara standing to the left of the bull. The right side is left
undecorated. As already noted, the lower fragment of the other sculpture is missing, but the area to
the right of Śiva is occupied by a floral motive, perhaps a stylized top of a giant nāga.
It should be noted that although reliefs depicting Śiva holding the snake above his head are known
from many regions in India, the combination of the snake, the uppermost hands clasped above the
head and a vīṇā occurs exclusively in Bengal, most frequently in the regions of Dhaka and
Tripura/Comilla.44 The fact that it is also found on the two central Vietnamese reliefs is certainly
Concerning the provenance, the 'incomplete' tympanum was initially thought to come from Tra
Kieu. The origin of the other one was unknown, although Tra Kieu was suggested due to the
similarity to the former (Parmentier 1909: 302 and 333; 1918: 408). The situation changed when in
1918 the lower part of the second tympanum was discovered by Parmentier in Khuong-my.
Following that, both sculptures begun to be considered to originate from Khuong-my (Parmentier
1919: 43, Boisselier 1963, figs. 105-106, Guillon 1997: 129, etc.). Yet, it should be remembered that the
attribution of the 'incomplete' relief to Khuong-my relies only on the similarity of both sculptures
and is therefore far from being certain. The relief may still be a product of Tra Kieu, both sites being
located in the Quang Nam province not far from each other and being characterized by a similar
Studies in South Asian Heritage 134

The third image from Vietnam was discovered at Thu-bon and it is also kept in the Da Nang
museum. The image is damaged and only the lower part survives with three arms still visible. The
bull is depicted seat as in the Nepalese examples (see Boisselier, ibid., fig. 163).

Related images
Śiva dancing on the bull might be an innovation introduced by Bengal sculptors, but depictions of
him standing or dancing with only one of his feet touching the back of the animal and the other foot
on the ground are known, for instance, from Bihar (fig. 35). According to some, such images were
also found in Vietnam, but the often-published tympanum from the Po Nagar complex near Nha
Trang in central Vietnam depicting a deity with one of his feet supported by a bovine, represents
rather the goddess Durgā on her buffalo than Śiva on his bull (fig. 36). 46 Furthermore, Vīṇādhāra is
sometimes shown dancing or sitting on the bull. There is an example of the first from Brahmeśvara
temple in Bhubanesvar, Orissa (Donaldson 1987: 1345 and fig. 3622), and of the latter from
Mandasore, Madhya Pradesh (now in the Central Museum, Indore; see the AIIS digital archive). The
Bhubanesvar Vīṇādhāra has four arms, of which two are playing the vīṇā and the other two hold
attributes which, unfortunately, are impossible to identify. Orissa (Ranipur-Jharial) yielded also an
image of a three-headed dancing Śiva whose one foot is supported by the bull, while the other rests
on the shoulder of a small dancing Gaṇeśa (fig. 37). The deity is eight-armed. The uppermost arms
carry, presumably, not the giant snake, but the skin of the killed elephant (like in the
Gajasaṃhāramūrti representations); the remaining arms hold a trident, a ḍamaru, a long weapon and
an indistinct object, perhaps a kapāla (the last as suggested by Donaldson, ibid., 1343). Furthermore,
there are a number of images and fragments of images that may or may not have depicted Śiva
dancing on the back of the bull. One such example is to be found at the Dakshin Dinajpur District
Museum in Balurghat (fig. 38). The sculpture shows a many-armed deity in a dancing or perhaps
fighting posture. The position of the legs resembles that of the dancing Śiva images from Bengal, but
the principal left arm is raised in a more graceful, flowing dance movement than on other Bengali
examples, and it is impossible to say with certainty that this sculpture indeed represented Śiva
dancing on the back of the bull.
Another such sculpture has been noticed at Koller Aktionen in Zurich in 2010. It depicts a twelve-
armed Śiva standing in a dancing posture and surrounded by attendants. The lower part of the stela,
unfortunately, is missing, and no traces of the bull survive. It is, however, plausible that the deity
was originally dancing on the bull. The uppermost pair of hands is clasped above the head and the
second uppermost pair holds a giant snake in the manner typical for the dancing Śiva images from
Bengal. Further, a knife is held on the right, a ḍamaru-drum and a skull-bowl on the left, and a vīṇā in
the next pair of hands. The legs are crossed the same as on the sculpture from Maniari. Yet, other
details are unusual for this type of images. The snake does not end in a female torso as seen on other
such sculptures. The hands are placed above the crown in a rather awkward manner as if holding
something. The principal left arm is not extended in the gaja-hasta, but goes behind the right arm
holding the vīṇā and Śiva’s forehead is adorned with a band of severed heads or skulls. Moreover,
the upper part of the stela ends up in lotus leaves and the attendant figures placed along the top
feature a figure resembling Buddha with his hands in the dhyāna-mudrā, flanked by Brahmā, Gaṇeśa,
Viṣṇu and (?) Skanda with their hands in the mudrā resembling the dharmacakrapravartana.

Possible textual basis

Sanskrit literature describes many forms of dancing Śiva. One of the ancient texts dealing, among
other topics, with iconography and image-making is the Matsyapurāṇa, which has frequently been
considered a possible textual source for the Bengali images discussed here. Chapter 259 describes a
dancing Śiva with ten arms, holding, on the left, a shield (kheṭaka), skull-bowl (kapāla), snake (nāga)
and khaṭvāṅga, and on the right a sword (khaḍga), spear (śakti), staff (daṇḍa) and trident (triśūla). The
remaining two hands show the varada and, probably, hold a rosary (akṣavalaya). These correspond,
more or less correctly, with the attributes carried by the depictions of the ten-armed dancing Śiva
from Bengal, the only discrepancy being the presence of the varada and the rosary, both of which do
occur, but only in the twelve-armed variety.47 An additional problem is the fact that the
Matsyapurāṇa does not say that Śiva should stand, or dance, on the bull. In spite of these differences,
the Matsyapurāṇa was thus far the best possible textual source for these images. Recently, however,
additional Sanskrit texts came to light, some of them discussing iconography and image-making.
These are the old Śaiva pratiṣṭhātantras: the Devyāmata, the Piṅgalāmata, the Mayasaṃgraha and the
Mohacūrottara. Transmitted in Nepalese palm-leaf manuscripts, they still await edition. Being Śaiva
texts they deal extensively with the iconography of Śiva and related deities, and two of them: the
Devyāmata and the Mohacūrottara pay special attention to the dancing form. The description found
in the Devyāmata comes particularly close to the images of Bengal. 48 The text speaks of a ten-armed
deity holding attributes almost identical to those prescribed by the Matsyapurāṇa, but substituting
the varada and the rosary by an 'extended arm' (the verse prescribes: hastam ekaṃ prasārayet) and,
presumably, by a 'waving arm',49 which fit much better the Bengali images (the 'extended arm' being
understood as a gajahasta and the 'waving arm' as the arm raised high above the head). The god
should be ithyphallic, which is one of the characteristics of the dancing Śiva images from Bengal.
Further, he should be surrounded by various attendants, among which the Deyvāmata specifically
mentions the group of gaṇas: Nandin, Mahākāla, Umā, Skanda, Caṇḍeśvara, Gaṇeśa and the dancing
Bhṛṅgin, all of which should be depicted beholding the Lord. But most importantly, the Devyāmata
prescribes that Śiva should dance on the bull – a detail that was absent from the Matsyapurāṇa.
Besides the correspondence in iconography, there is also an interesting similarity between the term
used for these images in the Devyāmata (Naṭṭeśvara), and that inscribed on the dancing Śiva image
from Bharella (Nartteśvara). The Bharella image is twelve-armed, but it nevertheless depicts an
ithyphallic Śiva dancing on the bull.
Except the Devyāmata, only two other texts state that Śiva should dance on the bull: the already
mentioned early Śaiva pratiṣṭhātantra Mohacūrottara, and the slightly later
Pratiṣṭhālakṣaṇasārasamuccaya. The Mohacūrottara, however, prescribes sixteen arms instead of

ten. The Pratiṣṭhālakṣaṇasārasamuccaya speaks of ten arms and lists the same attributes and hand-
gestures as the Devyāmata, probably due to the fact that its chapter on iconography is partly based
on that of the Devyāmata. But it does not refer to the dancing deity as Nartteśvara or Naṭṭeśvara. It
seems therefore that it is the Devyāmata that corresponds best with the ten-armed images of the
dancing Śiva from Bengal, especially with those from Kachua, Melakkadambur, Sankarbandha,
Bhauranagar and, perhaps, Rampal. The date of the Devyāmata's chapter on iconography also seems
to agree with that of the majority of Bengal sculptures.51 Such a correspondence with a textual source
has thus far not been found for the twelve-armed variety.
On the other hand, it should be added that the correspondence between the Devyāmata and the
aforementioned images is not perfect. The differences concern, for example, the presence of Śiva's
consorts: Gaṅgā and Gaurī (the latter sometimes replaced by Yamunā), which are depicted on the
majority of the images, but are not specifically prescribed by the Devyāmata. And it should be
remembered that even in cases when images do correspond entirely with textual prescriptions, it is
impossible to determine whether the direct source of the artist's or patron's inspiration has been the
text in question or whether the tradition developed in artist's workshop and was subsequently
described in a textual source.
Studies in South Asian Heritage 136

Concluding remarks
The aim of this study was to catalogue the Bengali representations of Śiva dancing on the bull,
familiar only to a limited group of scholars. The article focuses mainly on the iconography of the
principal deity, i.e. Śiva, with groups distinguished on the basis of the number of arms and the
attributes, with the omission, for example, of the attendant figures. A further study of iconography
as well as a thorough stylistic research is necessary in order to better understand the development of
these images in Bengal and beyond.
The majority of the images discussed here were found in the area of central and southeastern Bengal,
the ancient regions of Vaṅga and Samataṭa respectively. This is a more or less coherent group, both
stylistically and iconographically, with only minor variations among the individual sculptures.
Western Bengal, the ancient Vardhamāna, yielded only three images. Among them, the Śiva from
Govindapur with his shorter and stockier body proportions and distinct iconography represents
different stylistic trends than the carvings of the Vaṅga-Samataṭa group. The Naṭeśa from Bamun
Ara, also located in western Bengal, differs both from the central and southeastern images and from
the Govindapur carving. This, however, might be due to its much earlier date. No photograph could
be traced of another image from western Bengal, the one from Krosjuri, Purulia.
Only four images have been reported from northern Bengal and, unfortunately, only two have been
published. This area developed a distinctive style as compared to that of the south, which is well
illustrated by the stela from Maniari (Rajshahi). The Asutosh Museum Śiva, supposedly also from
the area of Rajshahi, is again very different and thus far no similar examples have been discovered
anywhere in Bengal. No photographs exist of the carvings from Harirampur and the damaged image
presumably kept at the Mahasthan Museum in Bogra.
Of the twenty-three Bengali images, two inscribed ones could be dated with precision. The now
damaged dancing Śiva from Bharella, inscribed with the name Nartteśvara, was produced in the late
10th - early 11th century AD (Huntington 1984: 62-63), while the one from Maniari seems to date
from the 10th century AD (Bhattacharya 1991). Guessing from the style and iconography, the
remaining sculptures may belong to the period of c. 11th century AD, however several images have
been dated slightly earlier.52 One of the exceptions is the eight-armed Śiva from Bamun Ara for
whom early 10th century (Dasgupta 1994 and 1995) or even 7th–8th century AD (Sharmila Saha,
personal communication) have been proposed.
It seems that none of the images from outside Bengal predates the Bengal ones. The two Vietnamese
tympana from Khuong-my/Tra Kieu, which are certainly the most interesting of all, should probably
be placed somewhere in the 11th century AD, which would make them either contemporary to or
slightly later than the Bengali carvings. The Thu-bon image is extremely difficult to date but one
could perhaps tentatively assign it to the 11th or 12th century AD. 53 The Nepalese examples are all
relatively late, the Tusa Hiti carvings dating from 1647 AD, the remaining ones also from c. 17th
century. The reliefs from other regions of India: Assam, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh,
too, seem to postdate the Bengal ones. The only exceptions are: the three-headed eight-armed
dancing Śiva from Ranipur-Jharial, Orissa, for which Donaldson (1987: 1343) suggests the 10th
century, and the relief on the liṅga top from Patna in Bihar, attributed tentatively to the 9th–10th
century AD on the basis of the paleography of the inscription (Kumar 1977: 169). Comparatively
early are also the depictions of Śiva dancing with only one foot supported by the bull. For example,
the image from Dapthu, Bihar, dates presumably from the late 9th or early 10th century (Huntington
1984: 121) and may perhaps represent an earlier stage in the development of the 'Śiva-dancing-on-
the-bull' theme. The combination of the dancing on the bull, the hands clasped above the head, the
second pair of arms carrying the giant snake and the principal hands playing the vīṇā, however,
remain a specific Bengali innovation that seems to have been carried all the way to Vietnam.
Notes and references
1 This study would not have been possible without the help of friends and colleagues who scanned and sent
difficult to find articles, helped in gathering information, and kindly shared their photographs of the
dancing Śiva with me. Therefore I would like to thank Byron Aihara, Claudine Bautze-Picron, Joachim
Bautze, Bhaswati Bhattacharya, Mokammal H. Bhuiyan, Gudrun Bühnemann, Marion Frenger, John C.
Huntington, Susan Huntington and The Huntington Photographic Archive of The Ohio State University,
Frans Janssen, Le Thi Lien, Gudrun Melzer, Gerd Mevissen, Rajat Sanyal, Sharmila Saha, Subir Sarkar, S.
Vijay Kumar, Sri Vijay – the Trustee of the Melakkadambur Temple, Gerda Theuns-de Boer and Tran Ky
2 The correct name of the village seems to be Krosjuri. This image has also been mentioned by P.C. Dasgupta
in his Purulia Jelar Purakirti (i.e. Arcaeological Discoveries in the Purulia District, in Bengali), p. 46, Kolkata:
Anima Prakashani, 2006). He mentions the image as lying near the newly built Kali temple, together with
fragments of other sculptures. No photograph of the image is included (Sharmila Saha, personal
communication). Haque himself does not include any references.
3 Right and left mean: ‘proper right and left’. The attributes are listed from top to bottom unless otherwise
4 I am grateful for this information to Mrs. Sharmila Saha who has personally seen and photographed the
sculpture during her fieldwork in the Barddhaman district. A short note on the sculpture has been
published by Chattopadhyay et al (2006).
5 There are also three fragments of images, too small to be sure about the number of arms. These fragments
are discussed below.
6 See Dasgupta (1994: 141, 1995: 291 and 2003: 6), Lefèvre et al. (2008: 250) and the Huntington Archive. It is
the only sculpture of Śiva dancing on the bull from the collection of the Bangladesh National Museum that
was on display in 2011.
7 This location: ‘Bhauranagar (?), Nasirnagar, Comilla’ has been given to me by Claudine Bautze-Picron who
photographed the image in the restricted collection of the Bangladesh National Museum in 1982. It is
probably the same carving as the one listed by Dasgupta (1994: 142) as originating from ‘Baranagar,
Chatalpar, Comilla district’ and in his further publications (1995 and 2003) as ‘Chatalpar’. Dasgupta (1994:
142) mentions that the left side (the proper right) of the image is damaged, which agrees with the
Bhauranagar sculpture.
8 Bhattacharya (2002: 56) describes the Melakkadambur image as twelve-armed, while Sivaramamurti (1974:
295) states that it is sixteen-armed, which is obviously a mistake as he only lists ten attributes and hand-
gestures while describing the image. According to him, these are: the gajahasta and the raised hand, a bow,
an arrow, a trident, a sword, a shield, a khaṭvāṅga, a skull bowl and a noose. However, no bow and arrow
can be seen here, Śiva holds instead a spear and a staff (see below).
9 Modern examples, very often more or less successful copies of the Melakkadambur image, are still made in
Bangladesh, for example in the bronze casting village of Damrai near Dhaka (see fig. 39).
10 Except the damage to the (proper) right side of the image, the stela is also broken horizontally, below the
level of Śiva’s left knee. In 1982, when the sculptures were still housed in the storage of the old building of
the BNM, the partly damaged lower part (that should show the bull and the remaining attendants and,
perhaps, the consorts) was still attached to the stela (fig. 5). In 1988, however, after the sculptures have been
moved to the restricted collection of the new museum building, the image was stored without its lower
part (Claudine Bautze-Picron, personal communication).
11 See Bhattasali (1929: 113), Sivaramamurti (1974: 292) and Mukherjee (2002: 78) for the Rampal image,
Dasgupta (1994: 141) and Lefèvre et al (2008: 250) for the image from Kachua (referred to in these
publications as an image from Palgiri), Dasgupta (1994: 143) for the image from Melakkadambur, and
Haque (1992: 150) for Rampal, Kachua and Melakkadambur. For the same interpretation of the weapon
held by the image of Rayerkathi, described below, see Dasgupta (1994: 142).
12 Charlotte Schmid, personal communication. The same can be seen on certain images of Mahiṣāsuramardinī
from Bengal as noted by Haque (1992: 248) himself: ‘The weapon in question is occasionally sharpened at
both ends as has been done in most Mahiṣamardinī images and, consequently, we have to point out that
probably this was the way that the weapon śakti or śaktikā was generally understood by sculptors in
Studies in South Asian Heritage 138

Bengal'. Cf. also the Navadurgā from Porsha (Naogaon, Rajshahi), holding both an object resembling that
held by the Śiva from Kachua and a genuine vajra (Lefèvre et al 2008, plate 100).
13 See Lefèvre et al (2008: 250).
14 The skull-bowl on the Kachua sculpture was missed, for example, by Dasgupta (1994: 141).
15 See, for example, Bhattacharya (2002: 56) speaking about the Śiva from Melakkadambur, Barua (1951: 204)
about an image from Assam, and referring to all images of dancing Śiva from Bangladesh.
16 The early Śaiva pratiṣṭhātantras that describe the dancing Śiva as standing in a vaiśākha are the Devyāmata,
the Mohācūrottara, the Piṅgalāmata and the Pratiṣṭhālakṣaṇasārasamuccaya. For a further discussion on the
vaiśākha in the Matsyapurāṇa and other sources, see Ślączka 2011a and 2011b.
17 Haque’s 1992 otherwise invaluable publication is a reprint of his PhD (1972) and does not include images
acquired by the Bangladesh National Museum during the later years.
18 The Śiva from Kachua is flanked by Gaṅgā and Gaurī, not by Gaṅgā and Yamunā as given by Dasgupta
(1994: 141 and 143).
19 75.563, labeled as originating from ‘Eastern India’. The name Govindapur is not mentioned.
20 In 2006 the image was not in Harirampur anymore (Sharmila Saha, personal communication).
21 For instance in Haque (1992). The image was found in the temple in Ranihati and was subsequently
preserved in Indra Babu’s house at Outshahi (Bhattasali 1929: 116). At present, it is preserved in the
Bangladesh National Museum, Dhaka.
22 See, for instance, the Huntington Archive.
23 These three images: from Ranihati, Natghar and Uttar Raikhal became mixed up in several publications (at
least if one takes as a basis Bhattasali 1929), starting perhaps with Sivaramamurti (1974). The Śiva from
Ranihati is published there labeled as the image from Natghar (Sivaramamurti 1974, fig. 173), and the one
from Uttar Raikhal as the one from Ranihati (fig. 174). As if to add to the confusion, the section on p. 292
refers to the fig. 173 (depicting, as already noted, the Ranihati image labeled as Natghar) but it does
describe the genuine image from Natghar, of which there is no photograph. The next section refers to fig.
174, but in fact describes fig. 173 (and thus Ranihati), and the final section does not give references to any
photograph, but does describe fig. 174 (hence: Uttar Raikhal). The confusion continues as many authors
base themselves on Sivaramamurti. And thus one finds the same error in Bhattacharya (1991: 314 and fig. 3)
where the image from Ranihati is labeled as Natghar, in Mukherjee (2002: plates vi.10 and 11) where
Ranihati is labeled Natghar and Uttar Raikhal is called Ranihati, and in Gaston (1990: plate 94) where,
again, the image from Ranihati is labeled as Natghar.
24 I am not aware of the exact provenance. The stela was at the restricted collection of the BNM in March 1988
when it was photographed. Claudine Bautze-Picron, personal communication.
25 The provenance is not given in any of the consulted publications. But the image is published in the online
catalogue of the Digital Special Collections of Leiden University where it is described as originating from
Rangpur, Rangpur District, Bangladesh. The photograph was taken by J.E. van Lohuizen de Leeuw. The
online description has been taken from the back of the original paper photograph and could have been
made by van Lohuizen de Leeuw herself. See:
26 See, for instance, Bhattasali (1929: 111ff) describing the then-known Bengali images, and Rahman (1998:
153) speaking about the Śiva from Maniari.
27 As suggested, for example, by Rahman (1998: 152) for the Kalikal image, Shah (2004: 3) for the Śiva from
the Karachi Museum, and Mukherjee (2002: 77-78) speaking about the Bengali images in general.
28 See, for example, Bhattacharya (1991: 314).
29 In some publications the photographs labeled as ‘Natghar’ depict, in fact, the Śiva from Ranihati. See note
30 Trident according to Bhattasali (1929: 116), who presumably had the chance to see the sculpture. It is
impossible to identify the object only on the basis of the available photograph.
31 Bhattacharya (1991: 314) suggests the abhaya-gesture, but it does not seem plausible: the hand is closed, and
holds a small noose-like object.
32 See, for example, Lefèvre et al (2008: fig. 103) and Haque (1992: fig. 220).
33 The Śiva has been described by Farooq (1988) and, subsequently, by Shah (2004). While the list of attributes
given by Farooq is correct, Shah (ibid., 3-4) writes that the attributes include a sword, a shield and an arrow.
34 The image is in the reserved collection. A hand-written list of the sculptures says: ‘From Durgapur,
Chittargon [presumably wrong for Chittagong] district, Inv. N.S. 4967, 135 by 50 cm.’ Gudrun Melzer,
personal communication. It should be added that the ASI report speaks only of Chittagong district, without
mentioning Durgapur as a find location.
35 The same must have been assumed by Haque (1992: 388) who lists it among the images of Śiva dancing on
the bull.
36 In both articles (1995 and 2003) Dasgupta gives a list of Śiva-on-the-bull images. The 1995 list has 15
sculptures, the 2003 has 16, but that is because the Ranihati image has been mentioned there twice, once as
no. 5: ‘Ranihati’ and, subsequently, as no. 14: a sculpture of unknown provenance, now at the Bangladesh
National Museum, Dhaka, acc. no. 67.244. According to Haque (1992: 388), 67.244 is the accession number
of the Ranihati image (referred to in Haque as being from Outshahi; for the latter, see note 21).
37 The accession number in the 1995 list is erroneously given as 87.4627. The image is not mentioned by
Haque (1992).
38 I am grateful to Mokammal H. Bhuiyan for this last information.
39 As reported by Bhattacharjee (1978: 16). Mentioned as ‘Awbari’ in Michell et al (1982: 225).
40 As it is often the case, also here the attributes and hand-gestures have been reported wrongly as varada,
trident, staff, dagger and gajahasta (see Bhattacharjee, ibid.).
41 According to Donaldson (1987: 1344) these are Agni and Vāyu holding, respectively, a śruk and a fan, but
the accompanying photographs are too small to identify the attributes.
42 The numbers twenty-four (for the larger sculpture) and twenty (for the sculpture where the lower part is
missing) given by Sivaramamurti (1974: 351-352) are incorrect.
43 Guillon (1997: 129) mentions also ‘small flying devotees honoring the god’ (‘petit orants volants honorent le
dieu’), but they seem to be absent.
44 There is yet another sculpture showing a similar combination. It is the Śiva (Gajasaṃhāramūrti) from Preah
Vihear in Angkor, Cambodia, but due to the bad condition of the relief one cannot be sure whether Śiva
does or does not hold the snake. The hands clasped above the head and the vīṇā, however, can be
distinguished without any doubt.
45 The ‘incomplete’ sculpture was initially kept at the Jardin de Tourane (since before 1899), was then shifted
to Hanoi where it got the accession number S. 24 (the note mentioning Saigon instead of Hanoi in
Parmentier 1919: 44 seems to be wrong), and was finally moved to the newly established Musée du
Tourane (the Cham Museum in Da Nang) in 1918 (see Parmentier 1909: 302 and 1919: 44). Nothing is
known about its origin, but in 1909 it was listed by Parmentier as being from Tra Kieu and it seems
plausible that it was indeed found there.
46 See Parmentier (1918: 409 and fig. 113), Boisselier (1963: 309 and fig. 213) and Sivaramamurti (1974: 351-352,
355 and fig. 26). The figure is Śiva according to Parmentier and Sivaramamurti, and Durgā according to
47 For the misidentification of the varada in some of these images, see above.
48 For the edition of this chapter, see Ślączka (2001a).
49 For this interpretation, see Ślączka (2001a: 189-190).
50 For the edition of its chapter on iconography, see Bühnemann (2003).
51 For the discussion on the date of the Devyāmata, see Ślączka (2001a).
52 For instance the images from Ranihati (10th AD; Sivaramamurti 1974: 286 and Bhattacharya 1991: 315),
Melakkadambur, Sankarbandha, Rampal and Uttar Raikhal (all 10th AD; Sivaramamurti, ibid., 286-289);
Studies in South Asian Heritage 140

Sivaramamurti is basing himself here on the dating of the Bharella image inscription by Bhattasali (1929:
53 The 8th century AD proposed by Sivaramamurti (1974: 352) for all three Vietnamese images is certainly
much too early a date. I would like to thank William Southworth for discussing the Vietnamese images
with me.

Unpublished manuscripts
Devyāmata NAK MS 1-279, NGMPP A41/15, Devyāmata (Niśvāsākhyamahātantra). Palm-leaf, Newari script
and NAK MS 5-446, NGMPP A41/13, Devyāmata (Niśvāsākhyamahātantra). Palm-leaf, Newari script
Mohacūrottara NAK MS 5-1977, NGMPP Reel No. A 182/2. Paper; Devanāgarī; copied from an old Nepalese
palm-leaf manuscript
Piṅgalāmata (Jayadrathādhikāra). NAK MS 3-376, NGMPP Reel No. A 42/2. Palm-leaf. Newari script

Published sources
Banerjea, J.N. 1985. The development of Hindu iconography. Delhi: Munshirar Manoharlal.
Barua, B.K. 1951. A cultural history of Assam. Vol. I. Early Period. Nowgong: Barooah.
Basu, Rames. 1934. ‚Vikrampur Arial Museum,‛ Modern Review, Calcutta, June 1934, pp. 636-641.
Bhattacharya, G. 1991. ‚The munificence of lady Catuḥsamā.‛ In: Akṣayanīvī: essays presented to Dr. Debala Mitra
in admiration of her scholarly contributions, ed. Gouriswar Bhattacharya, pp. 313-322. Delhi: Sri Satguru
Bhattacharya, G. 2002. ‚Āḍavallān of Tamilnadu and Narteśvara of Bengal.‛ In: Foundations of Indian art, ed. R.
Nagaswamy, pp. 50-60. Chennai: Tamil Arts Academy.
Bhattacharjee, A. 1978. Icons and sculptures of early and medieval Assam. Delhi: Inter-India Publications.
Bhattasali, Nalini Kanta. 1929. Iconography of Buddhist and Brahmanical Sculptures in the Dacca Museum. Dacca:
Dacca Museum Committee.
Boisselier, J. 1963. La statuaire du Champa: recherches sur les cultes et l’iconographie. Paris: Ecole française d'Extrēme
Bühnemann, Gudrun. 2003. The Hindu pantheon in Nepalese line drawings: two manuscripts of the
Pratiṣṭhālakṣaṇasārasamuccaya. Varanasi: Indica.
Chattopadhyay et al. 2006. Chattopadhyay, R.K., Rajat Sanyal and Sharmila Saha. ‚An archaeological study
along the Damodar-Ajay interfluve in West Bengal (circa AD ninth to fifteenth centuries),‛ Purātattva
[Bulletin of the Indian Archaeological Society] 36: 117-131.
Chattopadhyay, R.K. 2010. Bankura. Study of its archaeological sources. Kolkata: Platinum Publishers.
Dasgupta, Kalyan Kumar. 1994. ‚Naṭarāja images of Bengal and Orissa – a comparative approach.‛ In: Kṛṣṇā
pratibhā: studies in Indology. Prof. Krishna Chandra Panigrahi commemoration volume, Vol. I, eds. Harish
Chandra Das, Snigdha Tripathy and B.K. Rath, pp. 139-149. Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan.
Dasgupta, Kalyan Kumar. 1995. ‚A unique icon of Śiva-Naṭarāja of the Bengal school.‛ In: Viśvambharā: probings
in orientology (prof. V.S. Pathak festschrift), vol. 2, ed. Ajay Mitra Shastri, Devendra Handa and C.S. Gupta.
New Delhi: Harman Publishing House.
Dasgupta, Kalyan Kumar. 2003. ‚A unique image of Śiva-Naṭarāja from South Bengal,‛ Kalyan Bharati 7 (2003):
Donaldson, Thomas E. 1987. Hindu temple art of Orissa, vol. 3. Leiden: Brill.
Farooq, Abdul Aziz. 1988. ‚Of Hindu gods and goddesses: brahmanical sculptures in the National Museum of
Pakistan, Karachi.‛ The Archeology, 1/1: 21-30.
Gaston, Anne-Marie. 1990. Śiva in dance, myth and iconography. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Guillon 1997. Le Musée de Sculpture Cam de Da Nang. Paris: l’AFAO.
Haque, E. 1992. Bengal sculptures: Hindu iconography up to c. 1250 A.D. Dhaka: Bangladesh National Museum.
Huntington, S. 1984. The ‚Pāla-Sena” schools of sculpture. Leiden: Brill.
Kumar, Brajmohan. 1977. ‚Pañchamukha liṅga at Ranighat, Patna.,‛ The Journal of the Bihar Purāvid Parishad, vol.
1 Jan-Dec (1977): 165-170.
Lefèvre et al. 2008. Lefèvre, V. and Marie-Françoise Boussac. Art of the Ganges delta: masterpieces from Bangladeshi
museums. Paris: Musée National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet.
Matsyapurāṇa: Śrimaddvaipāyanamunipraṇītaṃ Matsyapurāṇam, 1907. Poona: Ānandāśrama.
Michell et al. 1982. In the image of man: the Indian perception of the Universe through 2000 years of painting and
sculpture. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
Mukherjee, Mahua. 2002. ‚Nartesvara in Bengal.‛ In: Foundations of Indian art, ed. R. Nagaswamy, pp. 72-82.
Chennai: Tamil Arts Academy.
Pal, Pratapaditya. 1985. Art of Nepal: a catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art collection. Los Angeles:
Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Pal, Pratapaditya. 1988. Indian sculpture. Vol. II. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Parmentier, H. 1909-1918. Inventaire descriptif des monuments Cams de l’Annam. Vols. I and II. Paris: Ernest
Parmentier, H. 1919. ‚Catalogue du Musée Cam de Tourane,‛ Bulletin de l'École Française d'Extrême Orient 19: 1-
Pratiṣṭhālakṣaṇasārasamuccaya, see: Bühnemann.
Rahman, M. 1998. Sculpture in the Varendra Research Museum: a descriptive catalogue. [Rajshahi]: Varendra
Research Museum.
Sastri, Kallidaikurichi Aiyah Nilakanta. 1957. A comprehensive history of India. Vol. 4, part 2. Bombay: Orient
Shah, Ibrahim. 2004. ‚An iconographic note on a Narṭeśvara image in the National Museum of Pakistan,
Karachi,‛ The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, Peshawar 12, nos. 1 and 4 (2004): 1-8.
Shrestha, Narayan P. 1997. Kathmandu, The Eternal Kumari: An in-depth guide to the sacred places, historic sites and
important monuments of Kathmandu Valley. Text by N.P. Shrestha, design and photos by G. Sayami.
Lalitpur: Saroj & Kauz.
Sivaramamurti, C. 1974. Naṭarāja in art, thought and literature. New Delhi: National Museum.
Ślączka, Anna A. 2011a. ‚The iconography of the Hindu deities in the Devyāmata, an early Śaiva
pratiṣthātantra.‛ In: Interrelations of Indian Literature and Arts, ed. Lidia Sudyka, pp. 181-261. Cracow:
Ksiegarnia Akademicka.
Ślączka, Anna A. 2011b. ‚The iconography of the deities in the Devyāmata, an early Śaiva pratiṣṭhātantra, and
the art of Bengal.,‛ Journal of Bengal Art, vol. 16 (2011): 157-167.
Saraswati, S.K. 1932. ‚Notes on a third tour in the district of Dinājpur: chiefly along the Chirāmatī River,‛
Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal N.S. 28: 185-195.
Waldschmidt, Ernst and Rose Eleonore. 1969. Nepal: art treasures from the Himalayas. London: Elek Books.
ASIAR 1924-25
ASIAR 1930-34: 304 and plate CLc.
AIIS archive: The American Institute of Indian Studies, Centre for Art and Archaeology, Photo Archive:

ASIAR. Archaeological Survey of India Annual Report
Studies in South Asian Heritage 142

Appendix 1
Images showing Śiva dancing on the back of the bull
Images from Bengal
1. Kālī temple, Krosjuri, Purulia, West Bengal, India; Haque 1992: 149, no photograph available
2. Bamun Ara, P.S. Durgapur, Barddhaman district, West Bengal; Dasgupta 1995;
Chattopadhyay et al. 2006, see fig. 1

1. Sankarbandha, Rampal, P.S. Munshiganj, Dhaka district, Bangladesh; 2'9" by 2'1"; Bangladesh
National Museum (BNM) 3A(ii)a/1; Bhattasali 1929; Haque 1992; see fig. 2
2. Rampal, Dhaka district, Bangladesh; 3'1" by 1'7"; BNM 3A(ii)a/2; Bhattasali 1929; Haque 1992:
151-153; see fig. 8
3. Kachua, Comilla district, Bangladesh; BNM 70.387; 130 by 61 by 22 cm; Haque 1992: 149-151;
Levèvre et al. 2008: 250); see figs. 3-4
4. Harirampur, Dinajpur district, Bangladesh; present location unknown; ‘a miniature image';
Saraswati 1932: 194; Haque 1992: 388; no photograph available
5. Govindapur, 24-Parganas, West Bengal, India; National Museum, New Delhi 75.563; 95 by 43
by 14 cm; ASIAR 1930-34: 304 and plate CLc; Dasgupta 2003 where it is reported as 'missing';
see figs. 10-12
6. Amṛtaghaṭeśvara Temple, Melakkaḍambūr, Tamil Nadu; Sivaramamurti 1963: fig. 100a;
Sivaramamurti 1974: 291, fig. 179 and 295, fig. 181; see figs. 6-7
7. Paharpur, Bangladesh [the label says 'Rajshahi']; Asutosh Museum, Calcutta T. 2672; see fig. 13
8. Rayerkathi, Barisal district; BNM no. 80.643; Sastri 1957: 90; see fig. 9
9. Bhauranagar (?), Nasilnagar, Comilla district (or: Baranagar, Chatalpar, Comilla); BNM 80.135;
Dasgupta 1994: 142; see fig. 5
1. Ranihati, Dhaka district, Bangladesh; about 3'4" in height; BNM 67.244 (Bhattasali 1929; Haque
1992); see figs. 14-15
2. Natghar, Comilla district; about 4'6" in height; present location unknown; Bhattasali 1929: 115-
116 and pl. XLV, 3A(ii)a/[2]; Haque 1992; see fig. 19
3. Uttar Raikhal, Dhaka district, Bangladesh; BNM 40; Haque 1992; see fig. 16
4. BNM 80.644; Claudine Bautze-Picron, personal communication; see figs. 17-18
5. Bharella, Comilla district, Bangladesh; 2'by 1'6" (the upper part); BNM no. 66.36; Bhattasali
1929: 114-115 and plate XLIV, 3.A.(ii)a./3 (the upper part); Huntington 1984: 62-63 and figs. 64-
65 (both parts); Haque 1992; see fig. 20
6. Kalikal/Kalikala, Vikrampur, Munshiganj, Dhaka district, Bangladesh; Varendra Research
Museum, Rajshahi 75; damaged, only upper part remaining; about 20"high [c. 50 cm]
(Bhattasali) or 34.7 by 26.2 cm (Rahman); Bhattasali 1929: 115; Rahman 1998: 152 and plate 155
7. Maniari, Atrai, Naogaon, Rajshahi, Bangladesh; Varendra Research Museum 3682; 73.6 by 35.5
cm; Bhattacharya 1991: figs. 1-2; Rahman 1998: 153-154 and plate 157; Bhattacharya 2002: fig.
IV. 12; see figs. 21-25
8. National Museum of Pakistan, Karachi, NMP 1975-8 (as given by Farooq 1988) or 147.1968.670
(as given on the back of the photograph taken by van Lohuizen de Leeuw); perhaps from
Rangpur, Bangladesh; 128 cm height; Farooq 1988; Shah 2004; see fig. 26
9. Durgapur, Chittagong district, Bangladesh; Indian Museum, Calcutta N.S. 4967; 135 by 50 cm;
ASIAR 1924-25, plate XXXVIe; see fig. 27
10. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, M.87.105; 32.4 cm (the remaining
fragment); Pal 1988: 200-201 and fig. 99

Damaged images (number of arms impossible to determine or not given in descriptions):

1. Arial, Dhaka district, Bangladesh; Basu 1934: 640; Haque 1992: 388; no photograph available
2. Vishnupur (Bishnupur), Bankura district, West Bengal, India; now at the VSPM vishnupur;
Chattopadhyay 2010: 185 and plate LXXIV
3. North Bengal, in Mahasthan Museum, Bogra; Haque 1992: 388, no photograph available
4. Churain, Rampal, Dhaka district; 4' in breadth; BNM 3A(ii)a/4; Bhattasali 1929: plate XLIV,
3A.(ii)a/4, only part of the pedestal remains.

[Additional images: some of them might be the same as those listed above]54
[Sonarang, PS Tongibari/Tangibadi, Munshiganj, BNM 87.462]
[Munshiganj, BNM]
[Khowai, Tripura; present location unknown]
54 Please see the article for further information.

Images from outside Bengal:

1. Ambari, Assam; Assam State Museum, Guwahati; Bhattacharjee 1978: 16 and fig. 36A ; 256 cm
h and 203 width; Bhattacharjee 1978: 16; Michell et al 1982: 225 gives 235 by 133 by 46 cm; see
fig. 28
2. Gauhati, Assam; Assam State Museum, Guwahati;; 99 cm height, 106 cm width, Bhattacharjee,
ibid.; see fig. 29
3. Pāpanāśinī muṭṭ, Bhubaneshvar, Orissa; Sivaramamurti 1974: 284, fig. 167 and Donaldson
1987, fig. 3617
4. National Museum, New Delhi; Michell et al 1982: plate 484; described as being from Andhra
Pradesh but almost identical to the one from Bhubaneshvar; 41 by 41 by 16 cm; Michell et al
1982: 225
5. Malhar, Chattisgarh; Sivaramamurti 1974: 330, fig. 236; see fig. 30
6. Banpur, Orissa; 8 arms; Donaldson 1987, fig. 3615
7. Khanderpur, Orissa; 20 by 14.5 inches; Donaldson 1987, fig. 3616
8. Tusa Hiti, Patan, Nepal; 16 arms; see fig. 31
9. Mohancok fountain in Hanumandhoka, Kathmandu, Nepal; Shrestha 1997: 129 and 147)
10. Nepal; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, M.77.22; Pal 1985: 123 and fig. S49
11. Nepal; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, M. 76.48.3; Pal 1985: 129 and fig. S57
Studies in South Asian Heritage 144

12. National Art Gallery, Bhaktapur, Nepal; Waldschmidt 1969: fig 23

13. Khuong-my, Vietnam; Museum of Cham Sculpture, Da Nang, Vietnam; Boisselier 1963: plate
106; see fig. 33
14. Khuong-my, Vietnam; Museum of Cham Sculpture, Da Nang, Vietnam; Boisselier 1956: 184
and plate 105); see fig. 34
15. Thu-bon, Vietnam; damaged; Boisselier 1963: plate 163
Appendix 2

Fig. 40. The dancing Śiva from Krosjuri (from: Roy, Subhash, 2012. Puruliyar Mandir Sthapatya, Vol. 1, Radha,
Suri, Birbhum.) The photograph reached me after finishing the article and the information could not be
included in the main body of the text. I would like to thank Mr. Subir Sarkar from the American Institute of
Indian Studies for his help in obtaining the photograph.
Studies in South Asian Heritage 146

Fig. 2. Naṭeśa. Sankarbandha, P.S.

Fig. 1. Naṭeśa. Bamun Ara, P.S. Durgapur, Munshiganj, Dhaka district, Bangladesh.
Barddhaman district, West Bengal. Photo: BNM 3A(ii)a/1. Photo: John C. Huntington.
courtesy Rajat Sanyal and Sharmila Saha
Courtesy of The Huntington Photographic
Archive of The Ohio State University

Fig. 3. Naṭeśa. Kachua, Comilla Fig. 4. Naṭeśa a (detail of no. 3). Kachua, Comilla
district, Bangladesh. BNM 70.387. district, Bangladesh. Photo: Anna Ślączka
Photo: courtesy Mokammal H.
Fig. 5. Naṭeśa. Bhauranagar (?), Fig. 6. Naṭeśa. Amṛtaghaṭeśvara Temple,
Nasirnagar, Comilla district, Melakkaḍambūr, Tamil Nadu, India. Photo:
Bangladesh. BNM 80.135. Photo: courtesy Sri Vijay, the Trustee of the
courtesy Claudine Bautze-Picron Amṛtaghaṭeśvara Temple, Melakkaḍambūr

Fig. 7. Naṭeśa (the same as no. 6, but with the back Fig. 8. Naṭeśa. Rampal (Ballala Badi), Dhaka
slab removed). Amṛtaghaṭeśvara Temple, district, Bangladesh. BNM 3A(ii)a2. Photo: John
Melakkaḍambūr, Tamil Nadu, India. Photo: Sri Vijay, C. Huntington. Courtesy of The Huntington
the Trustee of the Amṛtaghaṭeśvara Temple, Photographic Archive of The Ohio State
Melakkaḍambūr University
Studies in South Asian Heritage 148

Fig. 9. Naṭeśa. Rayerkathi, Barisal Fig. 10. Naṭeśa. Govindapur, 24-Parganas,

districct, Bangladesh. BNM 80.643. West Bengal, India. National Museum
Photo: courtesy Joachim K. Bautze New Delhi 75.563. Photo: Anna Ślączka

Fig. 11. Naṭeśa (detail of no. 10). Govindapur. Fig. 12. Naṭeśa (detail of no. 10). Govindapur. Photo:
Photo: Anna Ślączka Anna Ślączka
Fig. 13. Naṭeśa. Paharpur (?), Rajshahi, Bangladesh. Fig. 14. Naṭeśa. Ranihati,
Asutosh Museum, Calcutta T.2672. Photo: Anna Ślączka Dhaka district, Bangladesh.
BNM 67.244. Photo: courtesy
Joachim K. Bautze

Fig. 15. Naṭeśa (the same as no. 14). Photo: Fig. 16. Naṭeśa. Uttar Raikhal, Dhaka
John C. Huntington. Courtesy of The district, Bangladesh BNM 40. Photo:
Huntington Photographic Archive of The John C. Huntington. Courtesy of The
Ohio State University Huntington Photographic Archive of
The Ohio State University
Studies in South Asian Heritage 150

Fig. 17. Naṭeśa. BNM 80.644. Fig. 18. Naṭeśa (detail of no. 17). Photo: courtesy Joachim K. Bautze
Photo: courtesy Joachim K.

Fig. 19. Naṭeśa. Natghar, Fig. 20. Naṭeśa (fragment). Bharella, Comilla district,
Comilla district, Bangladesh. Bangladesh. Photo: John C. Huntington. Courtesy of The
After Bhattasali 1929, fig. Huntington Photographic Archive of The Ohio State
3A(ii)a/[2] University
Fig. 21. Naṭeśa. Maniari, Atrai, Fig. 22. Naṭeśa (detail of no. 21). Photo: courtesy
Naogaon, Rajshahi, Bangladesh. Gudrun Melzer
Varendra Research Museum 3682.
Photo; courtesy Gudrun Melzer

Fig. 23. Naṭeśa (detail of no. 21). Photo: courtesy Gudrun Melzer Fig. 24. Naṭeśa (Gaṅgā; detail of no. 21).
Photo: courtesy Gudrun Melzer
Studies in South Asian Heritage 152

Fig. 25. Naṭeśa (Yamunā; detail of no. 21). Fig. 26. Naṭeśa. Rangpur (?), Bangladesh.
Photo: courtesy Gudrun Melzer National Museum of Pakistan, Karachi,
NMP 1975-8 or 147.1968.670. Photo: John C.
Huntington. Courtesy of The Huntington
Photographic Archive of The Ohio State

Fig. 27. Naṭeśa. Durgapur, Chittagong Fig. 28. Naṭeśa. Ambari, Assam, India.
district, Bangladesh. Indian Museum, Assam State Museum, Guwahati.
Calcutta N.S. 4967 Photo: courtesy Photo: courtesy Byron Aihara
Gudrun Melzer
Concept & Design

First Published
Falgun 1421/February 2015



Translation, Textbook and International Relations Division

All Rights Reserved

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, adapted, or transmitted, in any
form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
or translated in any language or performed or communicated to the public in any
manner whatsoever, or any cinematographic film or sound recording made therefrom
without the prior written permission of the editor.

Published by
Dr Muhammad Mizanur Rahman
Director (in-Charge)
Translation, Textbook and International Relations Division
BanglaAcademy, Dhaka 1000

Printed at
Skylark Printers
278/2, Elephant Road (Kantaban Dhal), Dhaka-1205

Taka 1500.00 US $100

ISBN 984-07-5383-5

Captions to preliminary pages:

Page 1: Bodhisatva Maitreya, Bangladesh
Page 2: NBPW Sherds, Polychrome Beads, Medieval Common
Ware, Bhatbhita
Page 3: Lintel, Bodhgaya
Page 4: Bone Point, Dihar
Page 5: Door Jamb, Mandoil
Page 7: Sgraffiato Flat Dish, Banbhore; Kneeling Devotee,
Asia Society
Preface and Acknowledgements
Bibliography of M Harunur Rashid's Published Writings
Tribute to an Archaeologist
List of Contributors


Textiles from Bengal in Pagan (Myanmar) from Late Eleventh Century and 19
Claudine Bautze-Picron
Some Hindu and Buddhist Bronzes from Bangladesh 31
Pratapaditya Pal
SciBa update 1: addenda, corrigenda, desiderata et monenda to "Sculptures in 37
Bangladesh" (2008)
Gerd JR Mevissen
A Dancing Camunda Named Siddhesvari from the Time of Mahipala I 95
Dancing Siva Images from Bengal 125
Anna Slqczka
Myth of a Dog- Misunderstanding of a Curse! 157
Gouriswar Bhattacharya
The Monkey Offering Honey-An Excellent Sculpture from Bihar in the Museum 163
of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm
Isabell [ohne
Camunda Images from North Bengal 167
Mandira Bhattacharya
Iconography of the Narayanpur Nagaraja Preserved in the Mainamati Museum 171
Mokammal H Bhuiyan
Bodhgaya Lintel Bearing the Inscription of Dharmapala 175
Gautam Sengupta
Terracotta, Stone-carving and Calligraphic Art of Medieval Bengal: An Aesthetic 181
AKM Yaqub Ali
A Hoard of Chinese Blue and White Porcelain from Delhi 195
BR Mani
Arabic Calligraphy as an Urban Art 199
Muhammad Abdul [abbar Beg

Hinduism from Prehistory to Early History 205
Dilip K Chakrabarti
Cultural Continuity of the Indus Valley Civilization in Sindh, Southern Pakistan 217
Mohammad Rafique Mughal
A Preliminary Study of the Worked Bone Industry in the Middle and Lower 225
Ganga Valleys: From the Mesolithic to the Early Historic Periods
Rupendra Kumar Chattopadhyay & KumKum Bandyopadhyay