Parvati in art : depictions from sculpture


Goddess Parvati from Hinduism represents love, devotion and fertility. She is the mother goddess and is  nurturing and gentle. But she has other aspects which are depicted in her 108 names.

Her name is derived from the word parvata which means mountain in Sanskrit. She is the daughter of Himavat, king of the mountains. She is the consort of Lord Shiva. She was Sati reborn (who was Lord Shiva’s earlier wife and had perished due to a feud between her father Daksha and Lord Shiva). Parvati had to practice severe austerities before she could marry him. Their children are Ganesha and Kartikeya.

Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and Goddess Parvati together  make up Tridevi.

Along with Lord Shiva she is central to Shaivism ( a sect of Hinduism; followers of Lord Shiva) and is depicted in literature, art and sculpture all over Asia.


Parvati, terracotta, Gupta period, National Museum, New Delhi,India.

By Nomu420 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Goddess Parvati, Odisha, 12th century,India


Goddess Parvati, Odisha, 11th century.


Goddess Parvati, standing on Nandi, the bull with her children on her side, Java, Indonesia,14th century. shibainu (originally posted to Flickr as MET : Asian Wing) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Goddess Parvati has many other names. Haimavathi again means , daughter of Himavan. She is also called Aparna; one who took nothing to sustain herself. She is also called Shailaja, daughter of the mountains.

She is Uma and Ambika, Shakti,Gauri,Kali,Shyama,Maheshwari, Durga, Bhairavi, Bhavani,Kamakshi,Annapurna and many others. She is Lalita in the Lalita sahsranama, where she has a thousand names.

Goddess Parvati is referred to as a beautiful maiden.She is a Goddess in many different roles and moods. She is calm and placid,or  fierce and an enemy of evil. She is fair and golden as well as dark complexioned in her many forms.


Goddess Parvati, Chola bronze,13th century.

By No machine-readable author provided. QuartierLatin1968 assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Parvati is first mentioned in the.Kena upanishad as the embodiment of knowledge and the mother of the world. She reveals the supreme knowledge or Brahman to Agni, Vayu and Indra. She finds mention in the Hamsa upanishad. In the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata she is mentioned and also in the Puranas. Coins were issued depicting Uma during King Harsha’s time in ancient India.

The Shiva-Parvati theme is represented in art and sculpture in many parts of India and South Asia. Many temples are dedicated to her; with her unique name and legend associated with them. Festivals like Teej and Gauri tritiya are held during the year.


Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, Chola, 13th century. Hiart (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons


Lord Shiva and Parvati with Ravana shaking Mount Kailasa,Ellora cave No.29, Maharashtra, India. By No machine-readable author provided. QuartierLatin1968 assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL



The marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati, ivory, 18th century. Wikipedia Loves Art participant “the_arty_facts” [CC BY-SA 2.5 (, via Wikimedia Commons


Goddess Parvati, 11th century.


Lord Shiva and Parvati on Nandi, Shiva’s vehicle,11th century., Sailko [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY 2.5 (, via Wikimedia Commons

     Goddess Parvati is the ideal wife and mother. In the concept of Ardhanarishwara an ideal visualisation of a couple is depicted as half man and half woman. Each is complementing the other; one being Shiva and the other Parvati.


Ardhnarishwara, red mottled sandstone, Mathura, 2nd-3rd century. page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons





  • Epics, myths and legends of India/Thomas, P, Bombay : D.B. Taraporewala and Sons.






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Soma Ghosh


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