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California Museum of Photography

an exhibition celebrating the cmp's fortieth anniversary

9. The Trimurti showing the three faces of Shiva, 19 feet high, Elephanta Cave near Bombay (Mumbai), India (photo by H.G. Ponting, date unknown). Keystone-Mast Collection at UCR CMP, 1996.0009.WX25782

 
Mr. Fogg and his valet Passepartout arrive in Bombay (present-day Mumbai) on October 20. They intend to board the train for Calcutta that evening. “As for the wonders of Bombay—its famous city hall, its splendid library, its forts and docks, its bazaars, mosques, synagogues, its Armenian churches, and the noble pagoda on Malabar Hill with its two polygonal towers—he cared not a straw to see them. He would not deign to examine even the masterpieces of Elephanta, or the mysterious hypogea, concealed south-east from the docks, or those fine remains of Buddhist architecture, the Kanherian grottoes of the island of Salcette.”
 
¶ The structure of the Elephanta Cave near Bombay is elaborate in its spatial organization: the squares, circles, and axes of the cave demonstrate a geometry that recalls a sacred mandala. Scholars argue that the layout is designed to give visitors entirely different experiences in different parts of the cave. The statues at Elephanta represent different aspects of the Hindu deity Shiva, and are designed to lead visitors from a natural to a supernatural world. The central figure of a three-headed Trimurti represents Shiva as the “generator” with a third eye and moon shape on the right side of his head. The face on Shiva’s left side represents Durga, the female counterpart or consort to Shiva. The face on the right side is distinguished by furrowed lines on the brow suggesting a violent aspect of the deity.

9. The Trimurti showing the three faces of Shiva, 19 feet high, Elephanta Cave near Bombay (Mumbai), India (photo by H.G. Ponting, date unknown). Keystone-Mast Collection at UCR CMP, 1996.0009.WX25782

 

Mr. Fogg and his valet Passepartout arrive in Bombay (present-day Mumbai) on October 20. They intend to board the train for Calcutta that evening. “As for the wonders of Bombay—its famous city hall, its splendid library, its forts and docks, its bazaars, mosques, synagogues, its Armenian churches, and the noble pagoda on Malabar Hill with its two polygonal towers—he cared not a straw to see them. He would not deign to examine even the masterpieces of Elephanta, or the mysterious hypogea, concealed south-east from the docks, or those fine remains of Buddhist architecture, the Kanherian grottoes of the island of Salcette.”

 

The structure of the Elephanta Cave near Bombay is elaborate in its spatial organization: the squares, circles, and axes of the cave demonstrate a geometry that recalls a sacred mandala. Scholars argue that the layout is designed to give visitors entirely different experiences in different parts of the cave. The statues at Elephanta represent different aspects of the Hindu deity Shiva, and are designed to lead visitors from a natural to a supernatural world. The central figure of a three-headed Trimurti represents Shiva as the “generator” with a third eye and moon shape on the right side of his head. The face on Shiva’s left side represents Durga, the female counterpart or consort to Shiva. The face on the right side is distinguished by furrowed lines on the brow suggesting a violent aspect of the deity.

1 year ago

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