In fact, the colour white dominates the palette of this work. Her skin is dewy, the unusual colour of crushed olives. A milk-white swan, Her vahana, is seated in perfect stillness behind Her. Her asana is a gigantic lotus in full bloom, its pristine petals featuring undertones of powdery pink and gold. The waters flowing underneath are calm and clear as crystal.
There is so much of the dynamic in this painting. If you gaze into this painting long enough, you could almost observe the displacement of the swans flying in the background and see the flora in the foreground sway in the breeze. The brushstrokes employed at the waters convey a sense of gentle motion. From the tilt of Her neck and the direction of Her gaze, it seems that She is in close communion with the miniscule swans and lotus-buds in the stream, as if She is playing to infuse them with life and nourishment.
Indeed, no other deity of the Hindu pantheon could have made a better scribe for the greatest epic known to humankind. While His appearance is not on par with the characteristic handsomeness of Indian deities, it is His adorably boyish form that devotees love. His pot belly gives away His undying love of laddoos (He is holding one at the tip of His trunk). His chubby limbs are every ready to break into dance or to be raised in blessing. The innocent elephant-head stands for all the gentleness and wisdom associated with the mortal animal. This one-of-a-kind wood-cut sculpture of the Lord depicts Him in the midst of a walk along divine pathways, with a kamandalu in one anterior hand and an ornate parasol in the other. Lotuses about to bloom are in His posterior hands. His befitting silks and shringar are matched by the glamour of the Kirtimukha aureole that frames the composition and the grandeur of the pedestal on which the same is placed.
The Devi is flanked by dharm and adharm. To Her right are Indradeva and young siddha. While Indra is a heavenly being in His vibrant red silk and pearly shringar, and the thousand eyes that grace His body; the siddha is the perfect mortal and dressed like one. To the left of Bhadrakali is an asura, whose tribe is at perpetual war with the devas. He is big and boorish; and while His adornments are no match for Indra, He is as much of the immortal realm as He is. All three stand before Bhadrakali with their palms joined in namaskaram, supplicating to Her because She is all-powerful and lords over the dharmic cycle itself. Note how the shades of Her halo blend with the moors painted in the background of the painting.
The setting is against a Mughal-style garden. Lush vegetation and ample flowering foliage characterise the surroundings of the deities. The parrot-beaked Lord Garuda supports His masters by their feet, the stance of His wings as if He is about to take off into the heavens. Lord Vishnu and His Devi Lakshmi are in auspiciously coloured silks (saffron and red) and gold-and-pearls shringar. She secures Herself in position with a hand on the vahana's crown, as She sits in close communion with Her Lord. They are looking straight into each other's eyes, as His multiple weapons-laden arms flank their composite central figure. A rosy sunset dominates the background, bringing out the beauty of the delicate sprigs that dangle from the shock of green along the upper edge of the painting.
This work speaks volumes about the personal devotion of the artisan. The Lord is shown to be wearing a gorgeous silk dhoti and sashes. The rest of Him is bedecked with a world of shringar, which gather against His skin in lifelike angles. One of the unusual aspects of this tribhang murari depiction of Lord Krishna is the fact that He is chaturbhujadhari (four-armed). His smoothly carved feet rest on the typical dual-lotus arrangement found at the feet of Indian deities (two lotuses with their pistils brought together), which in turn is placed on a multi-tiered quadrilateral pedestal. The same is engraved with rangoli-esque motifs, the lateral trappings set off by leonine figurines that are miniscule but majestic. The twoering kirtimukha crown of the Lord completes the composition.
Note how lifelike is the stance of the figure in the composition. This is despite the stillness - from the angle of the neck and the shoulders, to the superbly carved folds of His robe gathered about Him. Even though it is an unconventional visualisation, His personality is replete. Lengthened lobes, which are verily the sign of wisdom in this part of the world; a brow as thick and graceful as the outstretched wings of the albatross; and delicately sculpted fingers and toes, which are best zoomed in on. His composure, as especially conveyed by the mouth, is restful like a true yogi's. His eyes are half-shut, hair gathered in coils and piled atop His shapely head. Should you deide to seat this form of the Buddha somewhere in your interiors, it would fill the surroundings with an aura of divine calm and stability.
This brass sculpture captures the divinity of the Lord with considerable skill. Its smooth glistening surface exudes power. The musculature of His form, the lifelike silks that clothe Him, and the aspects of His shringar have been sculpted with great detail. His tail, glorious as it is, flourishes behind His head like a halo. A minimalistic crown sits on His brow, set off by a determined composure of countenance. In one hand is the signature goad, while the other is raised in blessing. A simple, statement double-lotus pedestal completes the composition. Zoom in on the embroidery on His sashes and His loincloth to admire the skill of the artisan who made this.
Her head is set with a crown that befits Her heavenly status - it is ornate and made from gold, studded with emeralds and trimmed with three pink lotuses that are just about to bloom. The halo that surrounds Her head is in the form of the sun itself, albeit a solid grey colour that gives off rays of pristine light. From the colour of the moors behind Her, it seems that the sun may have set and the twilight is making way for the dusk. Zoom in on the Devi's face, wherein lies the beauty of the whole composition. A ferocious composure of countenance characterises that beauteous face, with the large bloodshot eyes and the awe-inspiring fangs that emerge from betwixt Her luscious lips. A third eye is to be found on Her vibhuti-smeared brow, on which sits a sliver of the silver moon.
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.
In this one-of-a-kind watercolour, She sits atop a delicate pink lotus in full bloom, Her tender foot rested on a lotuspad. Her figure is full and broad, adorned with ample golds and pearls and jewels. From beneath Her elaborate ruby- and emerald-studded gold crown emerges a sea of superbly curly, frizzy black tresses that seemingly have a life of their own. Note the glow of the third eye that suffuses the Devi's even temple.
Undulating hills, their verdant coat set off by the grace of the twilight sun, constitute the background, together with a couple of temple-like structures to the left of the painting.
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