Ardhanarishvara forms emerged early around the beginning or even before the Common Era. Harihara forms are reported from fourth-fifth century onwards. Both in Ardhanarishvara and Harihara forms, sculptors have resorted to Shiva's usual iconography, though synthesizing it amicably with the other half.

For balancing Shiva's half with his consort's feminine half, artists conceived Shiva either with normal two arms, or at the most with four, that is, in Ardhanarishvara form Shiva's half has just a single arm or two, but not more except rarely.

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