Lingodbawa - Siwa’s Lingga: Balinese painting E74261

The greatest among gods.

Siwa’s Lingga: Balinese painting E74261

 © Australian Museum

This painting depicts the story in which the God Siwa establishes his superiority via his phallic symbol of fertility Lingga, hence the title Lingodbawa. An argument erupts between the gods Wisnu and Brahma about which one is the greater. They come across a huge object which they do not realize is Siwa’s symbol of fertility - Lingga. In order to discover what it is, they decide that Brahma will go up to find its top end, while Wisnu will go down to find the bottom point. They agree that whoever reaches the extremity first will be the greater. They cannot find either end of the object and finally realize that it is greater than either of them, because it is Siwa - the third and greatest member of the trinity.

Wisnu, depicted on the left, becomes a pig and digs down in the earth, finding Ibu Pertiwi, Mother Earth. She bears him a son, Boma, who appears with the servant Twalen at the bottom. Brahma, on the right, usually becomes a bird and flies up, but in this painting he rides on the Garuda, which typically carries Wisnu, his rival and opposite. At the top-left corner Siwa himself appears to the suitably chastened pair.

The Lingga itself is made up of flames. In the lower part of the Lingga are two big Boma faces painted one above the other, each with a pair of eagle heads underneath. Further up is Kala Sungsang - the inverted demon, with a pair of crowned serpents. At the top is the Supreme God Tintiya, also known as Sanghyang Tunggal. All the other gods are the manifestations of the holy rays from the One God. Tintiya is often depicted in ritual objects in the form of a nude, male, white figure with trident-shaped flames emanating from his body.
 


Dr Stan Florek , Database Manager
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