Images bearing this iconography have been variously identified as Vinadhara (Player of the Vina) or as Tripuravijaya (Destroyer of three cities). This is because the identifying attributes in the primary hands of the image that would have been separately fashioned and inserted, are now missing. In his form as Vinadhara Dakshinamurti Shiva displays his great yogic powers since mastery over vocal and instrumental music in the Indian Classical tradition is closely linked with control over breath and ultimately mind. As Tripuravijaya – a form that gained much vogue during the late Chola period – Shiva radiates unlimited power for in this form he reduces three cities inhabited by demons to ashes with one flaming arrow. Most importantly, whether as a great yogi or as a great warrior Shiva reminds his devotees of his Omniscience.
For a much earlier but similarly large and sinuously modeled sculpture of Tripuravijaya with consort in the Cleveland Museum of Art collection, see V. Dehejia et al., The Sensuous and the Sacred: Chola Bronzes from South India, New York, 2003, cat. 5, pp. 106-107. The slender proportions, elaborate ornamentation and tall jatamukuta are reminiscent of the present image.
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