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Heads of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Cave of Elephanta

Heads of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Cave of Elephanta

Photographer: Unknown

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1875

Shelfmark: Photo 2/3(43)

Item number: 43

Length: 23.1

Width: 29.3

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the Trimurti of Shiva in the cave temple at Elephanta from the 'Lee-Warner Collection: 'Bombay Presidency. William Lee Warner C.S.' taken by an unknown photographer in the 1870s. The small island of Elephanta, off the coast of Bombay, is celebrated as the complexity of the plan makes it one of the greatest achievements in rock-cut architecture in India. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, dates to the sixth century and consists of a series of chambers cut from the rock. There are five caves in total, but only the great cave can still be visited. The temple stands at 250 feet above sea level and measures 130 feet square, 17 feet high. At the centre of the cave is a hypostyle hall of 20 pillars in which stands the linga shrine, flanked by two excavated courts to the east and west of the shrine. The north entrance leads to the Trimurti of Shiva. The central face of this triple-headed sculpture is calm and detached, the left profile expresses the feminine and peaceful, and the right profile reveals the fierce and masculine. The three faces symbolise the nature of the Divine, which combines and transcends all opposites.

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