Linga Altar with Four Faces of Shiva
Nepal (Kathmandu Valley)
Shiva linga are variously represented as an unadorned pillar or with one, four, or five heads of Shiva. This linga altar has a four-faced form (chaturmukha). It is banded, likely with munja grass holy to Shiva, alluding to the taming of Shiva’s phallic energies through his supreme asceticism achieved by yogic practices (tapas). The Newari inscription states that King Bhaskaradeva gave the altar in the year Samvat 166.
Text and image credit:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art