Siva (Colombo National Museum)

A bronze representing Siva in Tribhanga posture is presently on display in the Gallery of Polonnaruwa Period at the Colombo National Museum.
Siva statue, Colombo Museum

A bronze representing Siva in Tribhanga posture is presently on display in the Gallery of Polonnaruwa Period at the Colombo National Museum, Sri Lanka. Discovered in 1908 in the precinct of Siva Devale No 5 in the Polonnaruwa Ancient City, the theme depicted by this bronze is frequently known as Vrisabhavahana murti  (Chutiwongs et al, 2013; Krishnarajah, 1983).

The Bronze

The bronze is 67 cm in height and depicts the Hindu god Siva in a relaxing position after performing the Tandava dance. The weight of the body is balanced on the right leg while the left leg bends lightly with the toes touching the lotus pedestal (Chutiwongs et al, 2013). He is four-armed and the extra arms branch out from the elbow. The backhands hold an axe (Pharasu) and a leaping antelope while the front left hand depicts the attitude of resting upon the bull vehicle (Vrisabhavahana) which is now separated from the bronze (Chutiwongs et al, 2013; Krishnarajah, 1983). The front right hand, now empty, could have been holding a trident (Trisula), the main symbol of Siva (Chutiwongs et al, 2013). The tall headdress is conical in shape and the third eye is visible on the forehead of the god. The earrings consist of a Makara pendant and a large disk and the body is richly adorned with ornaments.

Scholars have dated this statue to the 13th century A.D. (Chutiwongs et al, 2013).


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.72-73.
2) Krishnarajah, S., 1983. Saiva Bronzes in Sri Lanka. Dissertation submitted in the partial fulfilment of M.A. degree in Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore, India. p.45.

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This page was last updated on 25 November 2023

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