Ardhanarishwar - Wall Painting
Ardhanarishwar - paper
Ardhanarishwar - Wall painting at the home of Sita Devi, Jitwarpur, in 1984.
Ardhanarishwar - paper and commercial paints, Jitwarpur, 1984.

Both paintings above are from the famous painterly village, Jitwarpur, just outside Madhubani. Both portray the androgynous god, Shiva-Shakti, male-female in one body, transcending gender and dualism. According to Flaherty, "Ardhanarishvara is always regarded as a form of Shiva, not a form of Shiva and Parvati" (1980:317). Ardhanarishwar means "the lord (ishwar) who is half (ardha) woman (nari)." That is, Shiva is half-female. However, in 1996 and 1998 young Maithil Brahmans referred to this icon as "husband-wife equality"--a concept growing in familiarity, if not in practice.

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