Not blue, which is sometimes his body colour, the Shiva’s figure in this miniature has been drawn in ash-grey, the colour of his ash-smeared body in his manifestation as Bhairava. A round face with well trimmed moustaches, sharp features, intoxicated eyes, long matted hair falling partially on the shoulders and a part knotted on the top with a snake holding it, a ‘tripunda’ and the ‘tri-netra’ adorning his forehead, and a thicker neck define the figure’s iconography. The great lord has been conceived with a robust anatomy. He is wearing a multi-stringed garland of ‘rudraksha’ around his neck as also armlets made of them. A pair of gold bangles and another of ear-rings apart, these are the snakes that adorn his neck, arms, wrists and ankles, and of course his grinding pot. He is wearing a large white ‘dhoti’ – an unstitched length of textile, around his waist in typical Central Indian style.
In paraphernalia around the figure of Shiva the painting makes a departure from the settled tradition. Instead of the lion skin which invariably comprises his seating mat Lord Shiva has been portrayed as seated on a carpet with silk-like look designed elegantly with floral stripes rendered in golden thread. His trident and damaru – double drum, are the essential attributes of his iconography but the trident’s blades and damaru’s body worked with gold are features foreign to their forms. A goblet with a tray, another, containing eatables, a larger bowl and a large size pitcher with a handle for holding it, all conceived with gold-like lustre, are articles not usually seen in Shiva’s iconography.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.
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