Shiva Bhairava, Colombo National Museum

Shiva Bhairava
A granite sculpture probably representing Shiva Bhairava (Tamil: சிவ பைரவாி; Sinhala: ශිව බහිරව) is presently on display in the Stone Gallery in Colombo National Museum, Sri Lanka.

Although the provenance of this artefact is uncertain, it is believed to have been discovered in somewhere in Polonnaruwa (Lakdusinha, 2019). The sculpture is 51.5 cm in height and depicts an eight-handed terrifying figure, probably a form of Shiva Bhairava (Chutiwongs et al., 2013). Each hand of the figure holds some object (such as a trident, a knife, a cup and a club of peacock feathers) but most of them are indistinguishable due to the erosion of the stone over the years (Chutiwongs et al., 2013; Lakdusinha, 2019). The hair that flares out widely around the neck and the pair of large ear discs have intensified the rough appearance and aggressive nature of the figure (Chutiwongs et al., 2013). A necklace is visible around the neck and the lower body is covered by a Dotiya garment (Lakdusinha, 2019).

Scholars have dated this statue to the period between the 11th and 13th century A.D. (Chutiwongs et al., 2013; Lakdusinha, 2019).

1) Chutiwongs, N.; Prematilleke, L.; Silva, R., 2013. Sri Lanka Murthi: Siva (Sri Lanka Sculpture: Siva). Central Cultural Fund. Ministry of Cultural and the Arts. pp.96-97.
2) Lakdusinha, S., 2019. Sri Lankawe Perani Hindu Prathima [(Ancient Hindu Bronzes in Sri Lanka) In Sinhala]. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-316-5. pp.46,157.

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This page was last updated on 2 December 2023

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