Possibly used to cover a linga, a phallic representation of the god Shiva or representing a linga decorated with a face of Shiva, we find a stylized face on a tall, thick cylindrical neck. He is depicted with large, wide open eyes consisting of a double line above and below with a heavy eyebrows above them. A third eye is between them in a vertical direction. He has thick lips and wears a luxurious moustache. A decorated band fits tightly under his chin and may represent a decorated beard of necklaces. At the bottom of the band is a stylized linga on a base, looking like a cross on a line. His ears sport snake earrings and his hair is worn combed back from the forehead in wide matted bands.
Shiva reveals himself in different and often contradictory forms. This object is a combination of two: a human face and a linga. The linga, or vertical shaft, dates back to the earliest representations of Shiva, and it is primarily in this form that Shiva is worshiped in the temple’s sanctum. It is often misinterpreted as a phallus, since it appears at times with lines representing a glans penis. More often, it is an entirely abstract sign— a simple rounded column, or even an uncarved stone. And, while the linga is associated with Shiva’s creative power and myths of castration, its meaning transcends singular identification with the phallus. The shaft may be differentiated into three sections linked with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva; in other instances it appears as a fiery column of light. Here, the linga appears as an abstract column articulated simultaneously as Shiva’s neck and face. This startling juxtaposition is yet another means for representing the indefinable: a god that transcends all categories.
Padmavati sits on a raised tiered square base. She sits on a narrow rounded seat with one leg crossed in her lap and the other slightly pendant. She has four arms and the right back one is broken. On the palm of her front right hand which is in the gesture of reassurance. She holds a mango in her front left hand and the base of some vegetative form in the back left hand. Her tight fitting lower garment is decorated with incised lines in stripes and incised lines delineate her necklace and encircle her breasts. She wears large plain earrings [?] and a conical crown. Her head is surmounted by a seven headed snake hood, symbolizing her snake nature and seated atop the hood is a figure of the jina Pashva in a half lotus position and his hands folded in a gesture of meditation. He is turn is toped by a five headed snake hood signifying Padmavati’s consort the nagaraja Dharanendra.
Another popular goddess in the Jaina tradition is the four-armed snake goddess Padmavati. Both Padmavati and Parshva, the twenty-third thirthankara with whom she is associated, are depicted under the shelter of a spreading cobra’s hood.
Unlike Hindu icons, which rarely have inscriptions with historical information, many of the metal sculptures executed for the Jain faithful are inscribed and dated. One prominent scholar of Jain art attributes this habit to the predominance of scribal and administrative skills in occupations traditionally held by members of Jain community. Forbidden by their beliefs to take up occupations that might involve killing, such as agriculture, animal husbandry, or warfare, most Jains became merchants or bankers. This image of the four-armed snake goddess Padmavati (an attendant of the twenty-third tirthankara), is inscribed with the date VS 1766, or 1709 CE.