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.
- Karttikeya, Commander of the Divine Army, Seated on a Peacock
- Andhra Pradesh
- Made 1101–1200
- 150.5 × 121 × 39 cm (59 1/16 × 47 5/8 × 15 3/8 in.)
- Restricted gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sylvain S. Wyler