He is usually depicted with the Trishula, the trident, and the Candraśekhara, the crescent moon on his head. He is usually light in color, sometimes blue. He carries Damaru, a small drum, shaped like an hourglass. He wears five serpents on his neck as ornaments. His wearing of serpents on the neck denotes wisdom and eternity. He has three eyes, the third eye on his forehead between his eyebrows. It is usually closed, except at the time of destruction of things. He usually has long, matted hair, with the Ganges river flowing from his matted hair. He is often shown seated upon a tiger skin, an honor reserved for the most accomplished of Hindu ascetics. Tiger represents lust. His sitting on the tiger's skin indicates that he has conquered lust. His mount is Nandi, the bull. In front of his temples is usually the statue of a bull.
One popular image of Shiva is Nataraja, the dancing Shiva. The legend of the Nataraja says that Shiva, with Vishnu disguised as a beautiful woman, went to subdue ten thousand holy men in a nearby forest. The holy men became angry and invoked a tiger out of a sacrificial fire. But Shiva flayed the tiger and wore its skin as a cape. Next, the holy men sent a snake, but Shiva tamed it and wore it around his neck. The holy men then sent a dwarf, but Shiva put a foot on him and performed a dance that was so brilliant that the holy men acknowledged Shiva as their master. The Nataraja shows the dancing Shiva with the snake, standing on the dwarf, with his long hair flying around his head. His upper right hand carries the Damaru, the drum. The upper left hand carries the fire, instrument of the final destruction of the universe. The lower right hand bestows protection. The lower left hand points at the left foot, The lifted foot stands for release from illusion.
One symbol of Shiva that is found in essentially every temple of Shiva is the lingam, usually placed on the yoni, a combination of the male and female sex organs.
One incarnation of Shiva is Bhairab. Some temples are dedicated to this incarnation, for instance the Bhairab Nath Temple in Bhaktapur.
Ardhanarishvara (Sanskrit: अर्धनारीश्वर, Ardhanārīśvara), is a composite androgynous form of the Hindu God Shiva and his consort, the Goddess Parvati. Ardhanarishvara is depicted as half male and half female, split down the middle. The right half is usually the male Shiva, illustrating his traditional attributes, the left half is Parvati.
Painting of Shiva in the Shiva temple in Dhulikhel, Nepal. (792k) Picture of the Trimurti, the divine Hindu trinity of Brahma (center), Vishnu (left), and Shiva (right) on the Shiva temple in Dhulikhel, Nepal. (746k) Lord Shiva, the Destroyer. (899k) Lord Shiva, the Destroyer on a small shrine in Patan, Nepal. (821k) Picture of Shiva the Destroyer on a house in Panauti, Nepal. (845k) Colorful Shiva statue and fountain next to the Jagannarayan Temple in PatanDurbar Square, Nepal. (919k) Bronze statue of Nataraja, the dancing Shiva. (637k) Statue at the Shiva temple on the way to Nagarkot, Nepal. This statue of a Hindu God is quite unusual. He has the four heads of the Hindu God Brahma. He holds Shiva's Trishula (trident) and the Damaru (drum). He also holds Vishnu's Shanka (conch shell) and Chakra (spinning disk), so he represents all three parts of the Trimurti, the Divine Trinity. (914k) Statues of the Trimurti (Divine Trinity) in Varanasi, India, with Shiva on the left, Brahma in the center, and Vishnu on the right. (838k) Stone figure of Hindu God Shiva on a temple in Khajuraho, India. (1077k) Kailashnath Mahadev, the world's tallest Shiva statue (44 m (144 ft)) in Sanga, near Bhaktapur, Nepal. (720k) Statue of Kala Bhairab (one of the incarnations of Shiva, the Destroyer) at the Lion Gate in BhaktapurDurbar Square, Nepal. (1022k) Relief of Kala Bhairab (one of the incarnations of Shiva, the Destroyer). It was carved in the 6th - 7th century, found in the jungle in the 17th century and established in KathmanduDurbar Square, Nepal. (870k) Bronze statue of Ardhanarishvara, half Shiva, half Parvati. (512k) Shiva statue in the Dhakeshwari National Temple in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (646k) Shiva statue in the Dhakeshwari National Temple in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (1056k)
Shiva Lingam and Yoni
One symbol of Shiva that is found in essentially every temple of Shiva is the Lingam, usually placed on the Yoni, symbolizing a combination of the male and female sex organs.
Nandi, Shiva's vehicle, the bull, in front of the Shiva temple near Nagarkot, Nepal. (725k) Statue of Nandi, the bull, vehicle of Shiva in Patan, Nepal. It is protected in a cage. Apparently, art theft is a big problem in Nepal. (1060k) Nandi, the bull, the vehicle of Shiva in front of a Shiva temple in Patan, Nepal. (804k) Nandi, the bull, Shiva's mount, in front of the Yaksheshvara Temple in BhaktapurDurbar Square, Nepal. (855k) Roof decoration on the Yaksheshvara Temple in BhaktapurDurbar Square, Nepal, showing Shiva's Trishula, the trident. (507k) Shiva's Trishula, the Trident at the Dattatraya Temple in Bhaktapur, Nepal. (616k) A statue near Nagarkot, Nepal, showing Shiva's Trishula (trident, on right) and the Damaru (drum, on left). He also holds Vishnu's Shanka (conch shell, on right) and Chakra (spinning disk, on left). (914k) Painting of Shiva, showing the Trishula (trident) and the Damaru (drum) on the right. He has the cobras around his neck, the third eye on the forehead, and the Candraśekhara, the crescent moon on his head. He has long, matted hair, with the Ganges river flowing from his matted hair. On his raised hand is a lingam. (845k) Shiva statue showing the Trishula (trident) and the Damaru (drum), the cobras around the neck, and the Candraśekhara, the crescent moon on his head. (720k)