Uma Maheshvara (Colombo Museum)

Uma-maheshvara murti, Colombo National Museum

A bronze representing Siva & Parvati in their formal posture enthroned like a king and queen is presently on display in the Gallery of Polonnaruwa Period at Colombo National Museum, Sri Lanka. Discovered in 1908 from Siva Devale No 1 in the Polonnaruwa Ancient City, the theme depicted by this bronze is frequently known as Uma-maheshvara murti (Chutiwongs et al, 2013; Krishnarajah, 1983).

The Bronze

The bronze is 60.3 cm in height and depicts Siva sitting with Parvati (Uma) on lotus seats in Lalitasana attitude (Chutiwongs et al, 2013). Siva is four-armed. The back hands of Siva hold an axe (Pharasu) and an antelope (deer) while the front right hand depicts Abhaya Mudra and the left hand Katakahasta Mudra (Krishnarajah, 1983). The moon crescent and a snake appear on his schematically designed matted hair (Chutiwongs et al, 2013). Parvati is represented by two hands. She holds a lily (Utpala) in her right hand and shows Varada Mudra in her left hand (Chutiwongs et al, 2013). The holes and the rings at the lower base of the pedestal indicate that the image was meant to be carried in procession.

Even after the end of the Chola Domain in Polonnaruwa, the making of Hindu bronzes continued in Sri Lanka in the 13th and 14th centuries A.D. as well mainly due to the Pandyan influence. Although these bronzes are very similar to those of the 12th century, some features such as over-ornamentation and angularity of the figures testify when they were actually created.

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.116-117.
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. pp.43-44.

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This page was last updated on 22 November 2023
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