The dynamicism of the painting comes out in the bangles on her wrists, the bejewelled streams of gold on her tresses, and the purple silk draped around her curvaceous hip that matches the makeup on those eyes. One could almost listen to the rustling of the silk and the tinkling of her shringar as she motions against the piercing edge of the sword. She is an exceptionally beautiful woman with full, expressive features, and a head of luxuriant hair as black as a tropical night. Note the background infusions of rich red colour, which serve to convey the passion that has seized the lady in the foreground.
Born to Kashyapa (a Vedic rishee) and Aditi (who is the heavenly mother-figure), He is sung about in the Rigveda. Samja, the daughter of Vishvakarma, is His wife, and He is the father of Manu, Yama, and Yami. It is from fragments of His superb glamour that the signature weapons of the other devas (the trishool of Shiva, the discus of Vishnu, and the lance of Karttikeya) have been fashioned. Understandably, He is the chief of the lords of the respective planets in the solar system. Having been somewhat replaced by the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva trinity in terms of importance, He is the chosen deity of worship during new-year festivities in Nepal and in the South. This sculpture of the chariot-borne Soorya is replete with the splendour expounded poetically in the oldest of the Vedas.
It is a fine example of Nepalese handiwork. While the paintings and sculptures produced in the region are coveted by spiritual art patrons across the world, its jewellery is no less. This pendant boasts of a sterling silver foundation, overlaid with dense gold filligree and gemstone embellishments. The delicate tracery as well as the pastel blue and red gems, each more exquisitely shaped than the other, are both characteristic of regional workmanship. The quadrilateral motif that dominates the foreground (and surrounds the central red, gold-rimmed gemstone) is the all-important Buddhist mandala.
The luxury and price of this one shawl could be understood once you consider that an average male of the endemic Hyrcus goat species, which roams eye-wateringly high Himalayan altitudes, yields annually just enough moult for a fraction of a scarf. Add to that the fact that it takes great degrees of skill, labour, and time to turn it into fabric, dye it, and embroider it to produce what you see on this page. The abundance of floral motifs, highly characteristic of kalamkari art, has been done against non-uniform pastel-coloured panels. Note how the same colours have been put into the stripes along the edges.
There is an interesting legend behind the origin of Tripura-sundari. We are told that once upon a time Shiva referred to Kali by her name in front of some heavenly damsels who had come to visit, calling her "Kali, Kali" ("Blackie, Blackie"), which she took to be a slur against her dark complexion. She left Shiva and resolved to rid herself of her dark complexion, through asceticism. Later, the sage Narada visited Kailasha and, seeing Shiva alone, asked where his wife was. Shiva complained that she had abandoned him and vanished. With his yogic powers Narada discovered Kali living north of Mount Sumeru and went there to see if he could convince her to return to Shiva. He told her that Shiva was thinking of marrying another goddess and that she should return at once to prevent this. By now Kali had rid herself of her dark complexion but did not yet realize it. Arriving in the presence of Shiva, she saw a reflection of herself with a light complexion in Shiva's heart. Thinking, that this was another goddess, she became jealous and angry. Shiva advised her to look more carefully, with the eye of knowledge, telling her that what she saw in his heart was herself. The story ends with Shiva saying to the transformed Kali: "As you have assumed a very beautiful form, beautiful in the three worlds, your name will be Tripura- sundari. You shall always remain sixteen years old and be called by the name Shodashi.
Tripura-sundari is described in great detail as extremely attractive, beautiful, and erotically inclined. The Lalita-sahasranama details her charms from head to foot, and the majority of the Saundaryalahari is similarly occupied with her attractive appearance. She is often said to give desire and to suffuse the creation with desire. The Saundaryalahari also states that that a worn-out old man, ugly and sluggish in the arts of love, can be restored to physical attractiveness and vigor by her glance. The Prapancasara-tantra says that her worship has such an amorous effect that celestial females such as gandharvas, yakshas, and siddhas come to the sadhaka "with gazelle-like eyes, breathing heavily, their bodies quivering and moist with the pearly sweat of passion; and throwing away their ornaments and letting their clothes fall from about them, bow themselves before him and offer to do his will."
This elaborate aureole serves to bring out the flawless iconography of chaturbhuja Ganesha (four-armed). The adorable, tattooed trunk and large inlaid flaps for the ears; all four hands occupied by His signature elements, such as the bowlful of His favourite sweetmeats and the broken tusk with which He scribed the Mahabharata; and portly form that devotees dote over, replete with shringar fit for a king. The inlay has been strategically placed across the brass in keeping with high aesthetic standards. There is another of His vahanas at the unassuming pedestal, kept simple with a few inlaid inverted lotus petals to direct the focus to the aureole.
It is chunky, relatively large, designed to complete the necklaces of the larger idols. Cast in sterling silver and finished with a delicate gold colour, it would surely jazz up the entire jewellery ensemble it is added to. Temple jewellery dominates the jewellery boxes of classical dancers and even everyday women who want to achieve a particular look. This pendant would make for a great addition to yours, what with the sampoorna (complete) Shiva-parivar smithed onto the frontal section. There is Parvati right next to Shiva on Their trusty Nandi, flanked by their gorgeous sons, Ganesha and Kartika, on Their respective vahanas; and another seated Ganesha figurine dangling from underneath the centre of the elongated pedestal that supports the deities. Zooming in on each figurine would enable you to truly appreciate the workmanship and labour that have gone into this statement pendant.
The dreamy blue colour of the base is set off by a world of embellishments. Cream- and brown-coloured booties emulating fresh flower-laden tendrils grace the kameez. The same is punctuated with pristine faux pearls and crystals to enhance the regal appeal of the dress. The neckline is high and fuss-free, as if to complement the midway slit that starts slightly above the knee. Note how the sleeves transition into transparent silk fabric at the elbow, the transition having been marked with more pearls. The dupatta is matching but translucent, and hemmed with a fine strip of gold lace for a look that is as regal as Indian suits get.
This variety of paintings are made on spiritual themes. The subjects are usually from the diverse Hindu pantheon, replete with their respective long-established iconography and personal beauty. However, this one draws not from popular iconography but from a much lesser-known motif of the tree of life. This all-important tree in Indian Hindu and Buddhist tradition is said to have infused the Buddha with the ultimate truths of life and enlightenment as He sat underneath it steeped in meditation. Done in a simple tritone palette comprising of solid black, white, and orange that hints at a setting-sun background, the curves of the rising branches are eerily realistic. This one-of-a-kind painting is bound to fill your space with calm and serenity.
The anterior hands are characteristically devoted to the veena. One of the posterior hands holds a pothi, while the other one bears the noose that She uses to rope in the adharmee. The dhoti She wears is held in place by a richly embellished kamarband, the silken fabric clinging against Her skin such as to reveal Her divine contours. Perfectly symmetrical sprigs of vines emerge from the hem of Her crown and rest delicately on Her shoulders. The veena on Her lap, as lifelike as the hands that play it, is engraved with motifs and curves that are in accordance with the Indian aesthetic standard. Seemingly the music She plays is as sweet as Her composure is collected and introspective. Note the unusual, gracious shape of the bindi on Her temple.
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