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Karttikeya, Commander of the Divine Army, Seated on a Peacock

Gray statue with multiple heads and arms seated on Peacock.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Gray statue with multiple heads and arms seated on Peacock.

Date:

Ganga Period, about 12th century

Artist:

India
Andhra Pradesh, Madanapalle

About this artwork

Karttikeya, the god of war, is known by various names, including Skanda, Kumara, and Shanmukha, as well as Murugan in southern India, where he is very popular. This monumental basalt sculpture is probably from the Madanapalle region of Andhra Pradesh. Carved in the round and riding a peacock, the commander of the gods is shown with six heads (shanmukha) and twelve arms, ten of which hold weapons aloft. Multiple arms and heads of Hindu deities usually denote their super-human power. According to legend, Karttikeya was born from the spilt seed of the Hindu divinity Shiva. He developed his six heads in order to nurse from his six mothers, the Pleiades (or Krittikas—hence his name, Karttikeya), a constellation of stars. The complex accounts of his miraculous birth and heroic exploits indicate that his character combines several streams of folk belief.

Status

On View, Gallery 141

Department

Arts of Asia

Title

Karttikeya, Commander of the Divine Army, Seated on a Peacock

Origin

Andhra Pradesh

Date

Made 1101–1200

Medium

Basalt

Dimensions

150.5 × 121 × 39 cm (59 1/16 × 47 5/8 × 15 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Sylvain S. Wyler

Reference Number

1962.203

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Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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