Mount of the God Shiva

Processional Bull Nandi

The high point of Hindu temple festivals are the grand processions, even today. The gods leave the sanctuary in the form of bronze images sitting on their wooden mounts and can now also be seen and worshipped by social fringe groups who are normally not allowed to enter the temple.

Nandi, according to legend a white bull of great power and manliness, is Shiva’s mount and also his most faithful admirer. In the myths, he romps about with the divine family on the holy mountain Kailash and carries Shiva from place to place. Nandi stands for stability and the upholding of the pious order and is the intermediary between the faithful and their God. Visitors to the temple therefore not only make offerings to Shiva on festival days, but also to him. In front of many Shiva temples in India lays a usually stone Nandi, its gaze directed towards the sanctuary. In the Humboldt Forum as well, Nandi’s eyes are fixed firmly on the god Shiva.

The white bull strides out elegantly. In true bovine fashion, he licks his nostril with his tongue. He is festively decorated: the painting shows magnificent bridles around the head and neck, one bordered riding rug and the straps from which bells hang. This processional figure came in 1987 as a present from a Swiss collector to the, at that time, Museum for Indian Art, and is today a special eye-catcher in the Humboldt Forum.

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Room 316 – Religious Arts of South Asia, Hinduism, Courtly Art