Superbly cast and finely detailed, Shiva sits in royal ease on a subtly incised double-lotus throne. In his upper hands he holds a deer and battle-axe and his proper right hand is raised in the abhayamudra of benediction. Shiva is easily identified by his many attributes; the open third eye in his forehead; the disk-like left earring; and a trident in the center of his crown flanked by the moon and the snake, all of which are nestled in the matted locks of his tall jatamukuta. He is adorned with many necklaces, armlets and anklets. His supple and powerful form is exquisitely embellished with a sacred thread along his torso, the waistband, udarabandha, and the multistrand belt centered by a lion-head clasp.
Given the impressive size of this Shiva, his elegant forms retain the stately grace conducive to darshan, the mutually empowering exchange of gazes between god and devotee in the ritual processions of Southern India. South Indian temples were built to house the most spiritually important sculpture in the inner sanctums that were only accessible to priests during the year. Portable bronze sculptures, including the present example who would have been accompanied by wife Uma and son Skanda in a Somaskanda arrangement, were brought out once a year during a processional held in honor of each specific deity. Sculptures such as this would be ritually bathed, cleansed and ornamented before being dressed and carried in procession, commanding the unwavering attention of the audience. The Ellsworth sculpture sits erect with an authoritative presence reinforced by his alert and benevolent expression and richly ornamented body.
In his most recent home, this bronze Shiva sat expectantly at the entrance, greeting each visitor with his empowering and royal gaze. Presiding over the same place for decades in Mr. Ellsworth’s apartment, he continued to engage in darshan and bestow blessings to Mr. Ellsworth's guests.