Mask of Vaikuntha Vishnu, late 5th century. Learn more about 5th century masks
It symbolises the goddess Shakti as well as the feminine procreative power within Hindu iconography. The word itself literally translates to “abode,” “source,” “womb,” or “vagina.” In the sect of Shaivism, the yoni and the lingam (an aniconic form of Shiva) are believed to represent the male and female principles of the universe and, collectively, signify the eternal process of creation and destruction. In Hindu temples, the two often appear together, with the yoni acting as the receptacle on which the lingam lies.