She sits on the floor in the fullness of her own company, probably putting together the bestu varas gifts for her mother- and sisters-in-law. The just-right afternoon light illuminates her workroom. On the rustic straw mat she is sitting on are her sewing supplies spread about her. Her legs are crossed, with one knee raised to support her wrists as the fingers motion dexterously through the embroidery. Zoom in on her hands to admire the lifelike beauty of her long, artisan fingers. She eyes her work with love, pleased with the way the embroidery is turning out. Her lashes are lowered in the direction of her hands, their sublime thickness setting off the beauty of her long nose and full mouth.
To seek life and something of the the dynamic in static forms of art is habit with us, and it is because of the very quality of dynamicism that this work of art has been handpicked for our collection. On a wide double-lotus pedestal stands the amorous couple in each other's embrace, their ample silks and shringar in keeping with classical Indian iconography. The delicately balanced crowns on their heads seem to be wound around the hair pulled back across the head. A feather sits at the root of Krishna's crown, a singular aspect of His iconography. Note how the superbly lifelike features carved onto their faces convey a composure of sheer bliss of being into each other.
This painting is bound to fill your space with an abundance of colour. The Devi is seated in lalitasana, Her form bedecked in brightly coloured silks and shringar, the most notable of which is the thick orange garland that cascades from the neck all the way down to the floor. Her gold kundalas and nath (nosering) and crown against the jet black tresses about Her shoulders and waist, are huge and go with the ultra-feminine makeup on Her divine countenance. Not one but two peacocks are on either side of Her. While She is shown seated on a bed of colourful flowers, the foreground is dominated by a freshly blooming lotus. Note the vibrant red background that hints at something of a court of the Devi in question.
Bronze has been the preferred metal of sculpturors since time immemorial. Even though sculptures of brass are more abundant due to the commercial availability of the alloy - especially across the Exotic India website - it is bronze that has a more artistic, elite whiff to it. The members of the Chola dynasty constituted the key patron group of bronze sculpture, who demanded great skill in this art form, funded innovative methods that have gone down in history, and caused the golden age of bronze casting to flourish in the subcontinent.
The thangka has all the hallmarks of Tibetan art. A vivid colour palette, Dikapals and other guardian deities that flank the central figure, and a cheerful lotus pedestal. From the bejewelled gold crown and the halo rimmed with gold petals to the entirety of His delicate shringar, the sheer amount of gold in this thangka matches the generous proportions of red that characterise the Neweari style. In each of His hands are objects of dharmic significance, more of which are painted against the dense turquoise background. Note how fiercely He guards His favourite laddooes from toppling over as He dances with a bowlful in one of His hands.
The sculptural depiction of the Devi is flawless in terms of the beauty and power expressed. Her gaze is straight; Her composure of Her full-featured countenance, determined. The folds of Her silken saree gather over Her lalitasana in lifelike folds. Starting from the crown and the kundalas to the rest of Her shringar, their luxuriance conveys Her divine presence. Zooming in on the back would enable you to appreciate the sheer amount of detail that the sculptor has put into this work - the five cascades of gorgeous hair gathering in one superb mane down the back, the petalled halo. What sets this Gayatri Devi sculpture apart from the usual Hindu devi iconographies is the majestic lotus arrangement that functions as Her pedestal. Two freshly bloomed lotuses have been placed with the bases of their pistils together, and the Devi Gayatri is seated amidst the flared petals of the one opening upwards.
The natural pigments that are used for the chitras look great on this patta. While themes usually revolve around Jagannath (for the obvious reasons) and avataras of Krishna, this pattachitra depicts the Ardhanarishvara instead. The deity is stands on a blooming lotus with the seated Nandi muzzling Shiva's feet. Parvati's saree is long and flowing, while Shiva is draped in an austere tigerskin. Her shringar is ampler and more feminine than the grim bands of rudraksha on His limbs. The curves of Her anatomy are more defined, Her thick straight tresses cascade down Her back while His wavey locks are flying in the wind. His jatamukuta is complemented by Her luxuriant crown. Winged celestial beauties floating amidst the clouds on either side of the pattachitra on top complete the composition.
There are two kinds of dakinis-supramundane or "beyond worldly," and mundane, or "worldly," ones. The second are usually referred to as yoginis. Yoginis are mystical partners of yogis, to whom they give secret wisdom and magical powers. In fact to reach Buddhahood, the practitioner (yogi) requires the help of the following three:
1). His lama or teacher,
2). His yidam, or meditational deity, and
3). His dakini.
There are three different types of Vajrayogini, according to how three different masters viewed her. One of these masters was Mahasiddha Naropa who received his teachings from Vajrayogini around the eleventh century. His disciples began calling this aspect of Vajrayogini as Naro Kha Chod, or Naro Sky Goer, according to the vision and teachings of Naropa. The teachings of Naro Kha Chod were first introduced into Tibet by the Nepalese brothers named Pom Ting. There thus followed a lineage of teachings of Naro Kha Chod that continues to the present day. She is very popular, and all sects follow her practice.
It is according to the sadhana written by Naropa that the present statue is sculpted. Her face is semiwrathful. She has three eyes, and her mouth is open. Her crown is made up of five dried human heads. Her right hand holds a chopper pointing downward. Her left hand holds a skullcup filled with swirling human brains inside. Under her bent left hand there is a khatvanga, a staff decorated with human skulls, vajra, scarf etc. Her naked body glistens with her vehement passion. She is very youthful-looking, and has a beautiful shape with large, pointed breasts and firm nipples. Her necklace is made up of dried human skulls, and she is wearing bone ornaments on her arms and feet, and also a bone apron on her body. She is crushing under her outstretched left leg Dushenma, lying face up. Her bent left leg is stepping on Bhairava, who lies face down. A large fire halo representing wisdom is behind her.
This description by Nitin Kumar, Executive Editor, Exotic India.
Lipton, Barbara, and Ragnubs, Nima Dorjee. Treasures of Tibetan Art: Collection of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Short Description of Gods, Goddesses and Ritual Objects of Buddhism and Hinduism in Nepal, Handicraft Association of Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal, compiled by Jnan Bahadur Sakya.
The priest is in traditional saffron and ivory clothing. The sindoori rug he stands on is strewn with petals from the flowers of offerings he has made to the mother of all rivers. On a raised platform are arranged the stuff of traditional Hindu offering and aarati - a conch, a handheld bell, a bunch of fresh moist marigolds, and some libation contained in a jar. More lamps are placed at the side, from the earthen diyas to the traditional Indian lampstick and the crackling dhunuchi letting out the auspicious smoke. Note how naturalistic is the portrayal of the flames dancing in the winds brought forth from the Ganga. A number of rickety wooden boats are parked near where the dhoti-clad priest stands offering his arati, which one could make out against the inky blue of the Ganga by zooming in. The same is separated from the all-encompassing darkness of the nightsky by a film of black paint that constitutes the Varanasi cityline.
The White Tara is the very picture of beauty and serenity. As if sculpted from a pearl, She is bedecked with gold and jewels, rubies and emeralds and turquoises no less. Her pastel-coloured silks and sashes float about Her body, setting off the graceful poorna-padmasana that She has assumed. Clouds and lotuses and wild Tibetan foliage, all quintessential elements of the traditional thangka, frame Her figure, seated as She is on a gorgeously coloured lotus in full bloom. The aureole that surrounds Her has been painted in intricate detail. The foresty green hue of Her halo, rimmed with gold lotus petals, sprouts shocks of ethereal greenery throughout the circumference. Beneath Her lotus-pedestal is a hint of the ocean's blue, at the mouth of which is a bunch of precious Buddhist offerings. Two wrathful deities surrounded by their respective flame-aureoles hold up to Her a plateful more of offerings each.
The beauteous countenance of Tara is framed by lengthened earlobes, and a tiara of gold, jewels, and flowers rests on Her brow. Her half-shut eyes radiate an otherworldly calm and collectedness possible only for a deity as powerful as She is. Note the eyes on the palms of Her hands as well as the soles of Her feet.
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