A solitary leaf of the peepal tree floats through the lokas (realms of existence). The complex venation of its body has been executed with superfine strokes of the brush dipped in black paint. A natural silhouette that expresses symmetry but not overly so. The chaturbhujadhari Lord Ganesha rests on the soft surface of the peepal leaf. His body and stance are that of an adorable little boy; indeed, the son of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati is the most widely loved baala-deva (boy-deity) of the Hindu pantheon.
The Lord has seemingly broken into a divine dance routine. The right leg He bends at the knee and raises above the left. The anterior hands are in a classical mudra. The posterior arms He raises above His head, wielding the conch in the right hand and a clutch of lotus-buds in the left. Brimming with wisdom and innocence, His enchanting little elephant head is turned to one side in the direction of the lotus-buds. He gazes at them with all the hope and admiration of a spotless heart.
The background of the composition is made up of the densely packed waves of a paralokiya (otherworldly) body of water. Finely spaced-out strokes of the brush on tussar silk, the fabric from which this patta (canvas) is made and which gives it the signature ivory colour. Hints of a deep saffron shade are to be found along the extended motifs that frame the painting (in true pattachitra style) and in the crown and shringar of Lord Ganesha.
The divinely handsome prince of paraloka (otherworldly realm of existence). In slumber within the coils of Sheshanaga, He dreamed the world into being; as mortal avatara, He delivered us mortals from the clutches of adharma many times. Lord Vishnu, the preserver deity of the Hindu trinity, is the all-powerful, the eternally youthful deity of the Hindu pantheon. The sculpture of Him that you see on this page depicts Him in all His azure-skinned beauty.
Lord Vishnu stands on an upturned lotus with petals the colour of earthy orange and green. His tall, stately figure is clad in a dhoti of orange silk. A world of gold adornments grace His upper body and arms and ankles. He is the chaturbhujadhari, the one possessed of (‘dhari’) four (‘chatur’) arms (‘bhuja’): in the posterior hands are the signature conch and discus, lotus and mace in the anterior hands. Handsomely carved features on an angular face, which convey a composure of superb wisdom.
The most striking aspect of this composition is the way the unusual colour of Lord Vishnu’s complexion contrasts with the remaining colours of the palette. Together with the stylistic elements of the composition, it is a hallmark of the Dravida architecture-influenced contemporary sculptural tradition of the South. In addition to the same are the ornate pedestal where Bhoodevi and Shridevi, the wives of Vishnu, are seated on either edge, the Kirtimukham aureole that seems to swallow down the Lord’s crown, and the ornate aureole that frames the central standing deity.
The painting that you see on this page is a skilfully executed watercolour, what with the level of detail and the metallic handiwork that has gone into the work. However, vibrant jewel tones and copious proportions of pure embossed gold make it fit to hold a candle to the finest oil paintings. Note the shimmering crimson of the Devi’s saree, the emerald green of Her blouse as well as the rug beneath Her footstool, and the sheer infusion of gold in Her roofed-up throne, the adornments on Her person, and the plenitude pot in Her anterior left hand.
That which shines brighter than gold is the Devi’s fair complexion. From the skin of Her superbly youthful face to the tautness of Her inner arms, She looks every bit the queen of Lord Vishnu’s heart that She is. An unassuming background of dark ochre gradient brings out the colours and the gold in the foreground. More of embossed gold is to be found along the edges of the painting which resemble continuous vines of soft, fruit-laden gold.
Lustrous and long Trishula with a pointed sharp tip at the bottom holds a great significance. Every implement of the divine has its own importance and so the trident also holds its significance. The upper three sharp and pointed faces of the trident resemble waking, dreaming and sleeping or the three aspects of consciousness.
The trident is spiritual, transcendental and divine as it is the weapon of the head of all the demigods. The trishula also represents the three gunas: satva, raja, and tama. It is the upholder of all three states and shul means the destruction of all the sufferings. It eradicates all the three problems in one’s spiritual life which are Aadibhautik (physical), Aadhyatmik (spiritual) and Aadidaivik (ethereal). Hence, it’s a blissful implement which relieves you from all the negativity and sufferings.
Apart from it’s spiritual significance, this golden, astonishing and brilliantly carved illustration is just eye catching, which will look good in the hands of Lord Shiva.
A miniature sculpture of the Buddha made from pure brass. It depicts Him seated in padmasana, the king of the dhyani (contemplative) yogic stances. An almsbowl in the palm of His left hand, indicative of the years of wandering and mendicancy leading up to His enlightenment. The right hand raised in infinite blessing. The withdrawn composure of a handsome countenance. This chhavi (image) of the Buddha is one of the most calming sights to the devotee. From the princely features of the erstwhile Shakyamuni to the stance of His beauteous body, it exudes a sattvik calm and stillness.
It is said that the wandering monk had sought some rest in the shade of a fig tree in Gaya. Having been irreversibly drawn in by its luxuriant canopy, He attained to Buddhahood shortly thereafter. In the work of art that you see on this page, the little Buddha figurine is set off by a wood-sculpted aureole designed to resemble the canopy of the Indian fig. The delicately curving silhouette of the stem, wide-set roots, and an abundance of leaf and branch that kiss the very roots of the tree. A round, perfectly symmetrical silhouette adds to the aesthetics of the composition.
The different media used to put together this composite work makes for an interesting colour palette. A jet black base that brings out the polished gold colour of the brass, and the deep brown shades of the Bodhi tree aureole with overtones of black.
Under the whispering kadamba tree, against the inky blackness of a night in Vrindavan. Lord Krishna meets His beloved Radha, who has risked a great deal in order to show up for Her Lord under the circumstances. She lunges at Him with all the passion of a woman in love; His long, sinewy, masculine arms barely contain Her. She winds an arm round His neck and makes as if to take Him in Her kiss. He slips a hand under Her thigh and seductively draws Her close. On a night like this, the divine lovers are unable to resist themselves.
A Radha-Krishna rendezvous is a popular theme with traditional and folk artists of India. While Lord Krishna is one of the all-important ihalokiya (worldly) avataras (incarnations) of Lord Vishnu, Radha is considered to be the very roopa (manifestation) of Devi Lakshmi Herself. As such, their profound love, their undying togetherness, their unabashed intimacy with each other are the object of devotion and worship. The painting of Radha-Krishna that you see on this page is as much a work of shraddha as it is of skill.
The rendezvous of Radha-Krishna has been facilitated by a pair of milkmaids (gopiyaan) who are selflessly devoted to Krishna’s pleasure and happiness. They stand on either side of their Lord, looking on with the matchless bhakti of their hearts. A gorgeous swan preens itself in the pond in the foreground and a little deer arches its head back to look at the life-affirming image of the lovers. A black and green-gold bitone colour palette adds to the mood of the composition.
A solemn Devi Sarasvati is seated in lalitasana on the back of Her swan. The pristine bird, known for its beauty and poetry of motion, is Her vahana or mount. Its long, lissome neck matches the slender body of the veena which its divine mistress strums on. The veena, a classical musical instrument, is indispensable to the iconography of Devi Sarasvati. As the wife of Lord Brahma, the presiding deity over srshti (creative projection), She is the presiding deity over learning and the fine arts.The Sarasvati murti that you see on this page is a life-sized number sculpted from pure brass. She is wearing a traditional Northern-style saree. The shringar befits Her status as the queen of paraloka (otherworldly realm of existence); they lie gracefully against the maternal curves of Her youthful body. The chaturbhujadharini, the one possessed of (‘dharini’) four (‘chatur’) arms (‘bhuja’), holds a lotus-bud on the verge of bloom and a pothi of the Vedas in Her posterior hands, while both the anterior hands are devoted to cradling the veena.An ornate crown sits on Her head. Zoom in on the same to appreciate the level of detail introduced into the structure - the studded jewels, the engravings on the tapering section, and the chakras on the sides. A serrated halo sets off the composure of omniscience of Devi Sarasvati. Another example of the super-skilled workmanship is to be found in the body of the vahana, its plumage having been executed with a lifelike quality. The composition rests on a discus-shaped pedestal engraved with lotus petals.
The Sarasvati murti that you see on this page is a life-sized number sculpted from pure brass. She is wearing a traditional Northern-style saree. The shringar befits Her status as the queen of paraloka (otherworldly realm of existence); they lie gracefully against the maternal curves of Her youthful body. The chaturbhujadharini, the one possessed of (‘dharini’) four (‘chatur’) arms (‘bhuja’), holds a lotus-bud on the verge of bloom and a pothi of the Vedas in Her posterior hands, while both the anterior hands are devoted to cradling the veena.
An ornate crown sits on Her head. Zoom in on the same to appreciate the level of detail introduced into the structure - the studded jewels, the engravings on the tapering section, and the chakras on the sides. A serrated halo sets off the composure of omniscience of Devi Sarasvati. Another example of the super-skilled workmanship is to be found in the body of the vahana, its plumage having been executed with a lifelike quality. The composition rests on a discus-shaped pedestal engraved with lotus petals.
His head features a lifelike tilt and is flanked by convoluted ears of great depth. Beneath the keenly engraved crown is a semblance of the third eye and the tilak indicative of His parentage between His brow. A complete tusk peaks out from one side of the long, narrowing, serrated trunk. The chaturbhujadhari (four-armed) Lord is clad in a short dhoti, in keeping with the norms of how little boys in India are dressed. His shringar comprises a bunch of necklaces on His clavicles and bracelets on His limbs.
He stands on an upturned lotus featuring gigantic gold petals. The same is placed atop an engraved pedestal with extensions on all four corners, making the work of art convenient to carry. Note the childlike yet all-knowing gaze of Ganesha, and the laddo in His anterior left hand, without which His iconography would be incomplete.
The colour palette pours forth with the auspicious good cheer of Indian weddings. The rich yellow of marigolds, with lush-plumage peacocks brocaded on the same. Infusions of purple vines and paisleys arranged in panels along with the rows of peacocks. The unusual yet simplistic zariworked border complements the luxuriant embroidery of the field and makes for a feminine statement. The most distinctive aspect of this saree is the endpiece, a decidedly bridal aspect. A luscious, young shade of red, layered with dense proportions of gold zari embroidered into sleek motifs.
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