An image of Shiva

Kalighat school

(India circa 1830 – 1930)


Other titles:
The five-faced Mahadev, Siva or Punchanan the Destroyer of the world, A five-faced Shiva
Not on display
Further information

Images such as this are known as Kalighat paintings, after the famous Kalighat temple in Kolkata (Calcutta) dedicated to Kali, the fearsome goddess of time and death. From around 1830, distinctive, quickly painted souvenirs were produced in large numbers for visitors who flocked to the temple. The images were intended to aid domestic worship and typically illustrate Hindu deities. Later, mass-produced prints replaced Kalighat paintings. Here, the Hindu god Shiva appears as Panchanan the Destroyer of Worlds. As with other Kalighat paintings, the composition is based on an archetype where the blue-skinned, five-headed, four-armed god is seated on a throne with a tiger skin wrapped around his waist. His fifth head is turned upwards and is surrounded by protective cobras and a small image of Shiva’s vehicle, Nandi the bull, can be seen seated in his lap.

Place of origin
Kalighat, Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, India
Painting, Watercolour
watercolour with silver paint on paper
43.8 x 27.2 cm (irreg.)
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Purchased 1959
Accession number