, Self-born linga [svayambhu linga] Enlarge 1 /1

On display on Level 1

Narmada River, central India, India

Self-born linga [svayambhu linga] [Self-born (svayambhu) Linga] 19th century or earlier Materials & Technique: sculptures, polished stone
Dimensions: 48.0 h 25.0 diameter cm
Acknowledgement: Gift of Philip Goldman 1977
Accession No: NGA 77.798
  • The supplied chain of ownership for this object is being reviewed and further research is underway. The provenance information listed has been substantiated by documentation. Details may be refined and updated as research progresses.
  • with Mr Philip Goldman, London, 1977 or before
  • who donated it to the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1977

This naturally occurring stone, from the Narmada River in central India, is associated with two major Hindu philosophical beliefs. When resting horizontally, the ovoid shape suggests the golden egg of Brahma from which all creation originated. When displayed upright, as it is here, the stone represents the phallus or linga of Shiva, a powerful aniconic representation of the great Hindu god used in ritual acts of worship, puja.

These most auspicious of linga are polished but otherwise untouched by an artist's hands. The linga is often set within a yoni, a circular pedestal symbolising complementary female sexual energy. The stone's distinctive markings are interpreted as the female force that inspires Shiva's urge to create. Offerings poured over the linga are carried away by a spout in the yoni.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label