Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Asian art

View More:





Kalighat style


circa 1830 - 1930


Images such as this are known as Kalighat paintings, after the famous Kalighat temple in Kolkata (Calcutta) dedicated to Kali, the fearsome goddess of time and death. From around 1830, distinctive, quickly painted souvenirs were produced in large numbers for visitors who flocked to the temple. The images were intended to aid domestic worship and typically illustrate Hindu deities. Later, mass-produced prints replaced Kalighat paintings. Here, the Hindu god Shiva appears as Panchanan the Destroyer of Worlds. As with other Kalighat paintings, the composition is based on an archetype where the blue-skinned, five-headed, four-armed god is seated on a throne with a tiger skin wrapped around his waist. His fifth head is turned upwards and is surrounded by protective cobras and a small image of Shiva’s vehicle, Nandi the bull, can be seen seated in his lap.


Other Titles

The five-faced Mahadev

Siva or Punchanan the Destroyer of the world

A five-faced Shiva

Alternative title


Place where the work was made

Kalighat Kolkata (Calcutta) West Bengal India



Media categories

Painting , Watercolour

Materials used

watercolour with silver paint on paper


43.8 x 27.2 cm (irreg.)

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1959


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Kalighat style

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 6 publications


Kate Brittlebank, TAASA Review, 'Unexpected Connections: An Australian Kalighat Album Reunited', pg. 4-5, Sydney, Mar 2006.

Kate Brittlebank, TAASA Review, "Postscript: Kalighat's Missionaries', pg. 23, Sydney, Jun 2006.

Kate Brittlebank, Journal of the History of Collections, 'Anthropology, fine art and missionaries: The Berndt Kalighat album rediscovered', pg.127-142, Oxford, May 2008.

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Folk Paintings and Souvenir Pictures', Sydney, 2003, 48-49 (colour illus.). The colour illus. on page 49 is a detail of this work.

Haema Sivanesan, Indian painting, 'Indian Painting', verso of poster., Sydney, 2001. 5.2

Jill Sykes, Look, 'Artworks from India under the British Raj...', pg.30, Sydney, Jul 2010, 30 (colour illus.).