This is an antique carved and painted wooden Nandi-- the sacred bull calf, gatekeeper, and vehicle of the Hindu god Shiva--and I am quite taken with him! I believe he dates to the late 19th or early 20th century and was made in India. Over these years and distances he has seen some things, losing the tips of his ears and one of his horns as well as some of his paint in the process, but he has a fantastic presence and patina, and I love him all the more for the wear.
The word Nandi has come from Tamil root word Nandhu, which means to grow, to flourish, or to appear, and the Sanskrit word nandi has the meaning of happy, joy, and satisfaction, the properties of divine guardian of Shiva- Nandi. Almost all Shiva temples display stone-images of a seated Nandi, generally facing the main shrine.
This one measures 8 1/4" tall x 5 5/8" long x 1 3/4" wide. Beside the wear, this piece is in great structural condition.