Uma as Shivagami
Mythologically, when Uma is newly married to Shiva she is Shivagami. In pre-Vedic times Uma (or Parvati as she is known in the north) was the fierce but gentle ascetic of the Himalayas, but over time she was absorbed into the Vedic belief system of male and female duality. Shaktism, similar to Saivism and Vaisnavism, believes Uma in all her aspects, such as Durga and Kali, is the Supreme Deity and above all other gods. While Shiva’s roles are cosmic, it is only in the company of Uma that divine grace is bestowed upon mortals. Historically, Uma wasn’t any god’s consort but a divine power in her own right.
Uma is always portrayed as a slender, sensuous woman of great beauty. According to later mythology, Vishnu arranged for Uma to be born to lure Shiva from his ascetic existence towards a more worldly life. She eventually succeeded and, as newly married Shivagami, represents the feminine ideal of beauty and sexuality.
“Like a painting unfolding under the brush
or a lotus spreading open at the sun’s touch,
every part of Uma’s body had its perfect
symmetry in the fresh fullness of her youth”
Kumarasambhavam by Kalidasa, verses 31-7, translated by Hank Heifetz, 2014
Here she stands in graceful tribhanga posture; right hand raised to hold a lotus blossom (katakamudra) with the left rests at her side (lolamudra). Her elevated status in the Hindu pantheon requires her clothing and adornment (alankara) be luxurious and extensive. Her jewelled gold crown (karandamukuta), the armlets, bracelets and necklaces, her belt hung with strands of pearls accentuating the movement of her hips, the buckle a lion face of glory; all reflect the fashion of queens of the Chola court. Unique to Uma is the sacred thread (yajnopavita) she wears, a reference to her early manifestation as an ascetic mystic.
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24 in / 60 cm
18.63 lb / 8.45 kg