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 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.
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.
Her shringar is relatively simple but replete. A clutch of necklaces, a sash cascading down across Her distinctly maternal torso, a kamarband to hold the silken dhoti in place, and a profusion of bracelets all along Her arm and anklets and rings. Her sweet sharply featured face is framed by long, kundala-laden ears, the beautous brow dotted with an elongated bindi. Despite the minimalistic sculpture of the countenance, the radiance of wisdom and maternal calm pours forth from the composure. Note how the silk of the dhoti clings against Her superb musculature, revealing Her divine proportions. In fact, the hallmark of good sculpture lies in the precision with which the limbs and the digits are carved. The pedestal is atypical of Indian iconography - numerous layers, freshly blooming lotus, a world of intricate engraving in each layer.
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