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Showing 531 to 540 of 548 results
Bhadrasana Ardhanarishvara
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Bhadrasana Ardhanarishvara
The Ardhanarishvara is a powerful image of Sankhyadarshana (‘darshana’ is equivalent to what in the West counts as philosophy). It is the confluence of purusha and prakrti, the manifesting deva for the former being Lord Shiva and the manifesting devi for the latter being His wife, Devi Parvati. From this confluence emerges the entirety of existence; the union of the two is the very picture of life-force and fecundity, and even destruction.

This gentle watercolour depicts the two deities as one, seated in bhadrasana on a mat of tiger-skin. They are the primordial yogis, Lord Shiva having imparted the knowledge of yoga to His Parvat; in fact, Yogadarshana is the applied aspect of the more theoretical Sankhyadarshana. He wields a trishool; She, a noose. A sliver of the moon graces His matted locks, while Her gorgeous curls are held in place by a bejewelled crown. He is bare-bodied but for the loincloth, in stark contrast to which She is drawing the pallu of Her saree over Her torso with Her anterior hand.

Their mat is spread on the transverse section of a gigantic tree, set amidst the pale landscape of the lower Himalayan reaches. The painter has chosen a particularly verdant spot to depict his Ardhanarishvara in. In the foreground is the devoted Nandi on His haunches, looking ahead with a gaze as gathered and serene as the Ardhanarishvara’s.

Richly Coloured Devi Sarasvati Mandir
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Richly Coloured Devi Sarasvati Mandir
For the devotee of Devi Sarasvati, this murti comes with its own temple built around the pratima. The handiwork is distinctly South Indian. A rich colour palette of pastels makes a statement of absolute joy, while the wooden medium betrays the great skill and devotion on the part of the artist. Indeed, such are the characteristics of the gorgeous temples of the South, from the kind that has stood for centuries to the one you see on this page, made for modern spaces.

The beautiful Devi is seated in Her altar on a pale pink lotus. In Her four hands She holds a rosary, a pothi (spiritual manuscript), and of course the veena. She is the deity of intellectual pursuits - learning and music and the arts - which explains the elements of Her iconography. Despite the fact that the work put into the mandir dominates the composition and the pratima is relatively tiny, She has been carved in beauteous detail: the composure of Her countenance, the shringar of Her neck cascading over the stem of Her instrument, and the one-of-a-kind blue-winged crown on Her head.

Natural, traditional motifs grace Her mandir. She is flanked by blue-lotus pillars, sandwiched between platforms engraved with coloured lotus petals. An unconventional templetop characterises the composition. A pair of large, young peacocks are seemingly holding the entire arrangement up on their heads.

The Birth Of Lakshmi, A Symbolic Pot Of Wealth In Her Hand
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The Birth Of Lakshmi, A Symbolic Pot Of Wealth In Her Hand
Lakshmi is the Vedic deity that presides over resources. She is the wife of Vishnu, Who is responsible for the preservation aspect of the existential cycle. She is aptly depicted in this watercolour in all Her heavenly glory. The resplendent silks of Her saree are set off by the matching rubies and emeralds on Her ornaments. Streams of pearls cascade down Her torso, touching the elaborate kamarband that wraps around Her gracious hips. Her gold neckpiece goes well with the chunky, studded gold on Her four wrists, but even more so with the gorgeous crown on Her head. In Her left anterior hand, She holds a richly adorned pot with a lid to protect the wealth within. She is the very picture of plenty.

Every time Her husband has been incarnated as Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, and Krishna, She has accompanied Him as Kamala, Dharani, Sita, and Rukmini. Hence, She has come to embody the especially feminine virtues of beauty and devotion. She is as inseparable from Him as knowledge from intellect, coherence from words, and dharma from righteousness. A divine sense of calm is writ across Her supremely beautiful brow, the rest of Her form as rubescent as the lotuses She holds up in Her tender (posterior) hands. The right anterior hand is the ashirvaad mudra, what with Her chosen devotees amongst the most fortunate of our realm of existence. Her four arms stand for dharma (ethics), artha (wealth), kama (pleasure), and moksha (deliverance).

While the Puranas describe the birth of Lakshmi as the daughter of the sage Bhrigu and his wife Khyati, She is deified as having been born from the oceans during the all-important samudramanthan. Artist Kailash Raj depicts Her as such, emerging from the tempestuous waters. Complex brushstrokes in limited shades and tints of blue illustrate withh great skill the prevailing turmoil in the heavens. Note the graduated halo that surrounds Lakshmi - the gold glow of knowledge, followed by the pink ringlet of beauty, and finally the pristine layer symbolic of ethical purity.

The Iconographic Perfection Of Devi Saraswati
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The Iconographic Perfection Of Devi Saraswati
Devi Saraswati has no equal in terms of learning and refinement. As such, these attributes of Brahmapriya (the favourite of Her husband, Lord Brahma) find expression in Her unmistakable iconography. This classical painting of Saraswati Mata is replete with the same, of which the veena in Her delicate hands and the white of Her saree are the most prominent.

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.

Ganesha With Parasole And Kamandalu, Under An Ornate Kirtimukha Aureole
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Ganesha With Parasole And Kamandalu, Under An Ornate Kirtimukha Aureole
When one begins to look for the beloved Ganesha in itihasa, the older of the two, which is Ramayana, yields no result. One would expect the great Lord of auspicious beginnings to be invoked during Rama's departure to the woods or Hanuman's to Lanka in the search for Seeta, but it is not until the advent of Kaliyuga that the Ganesha cult evolves. When Krishnadvaipayana Vyasa had the greatest of epics composed in his mind, He turned to Lord Brahma in search of a scribe worth the task. It is upon His suggestion that he meditated upon Ganesha to invoke Him to be his scribe. Ganesha's condition was that his motions with the pen be not interrupted once He begins; Vyasa's, that He not pen down anything without understanding it first. With the sacred syllable of AUM etched at the beginning of the manuscript, Ganesha thus began the writing of the Mahabharata.

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.

Bhadrakali Worshipped By Both Dharm And Adharm, The Mortal And The Immortal (Tantric Devi Series)
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Bhadrakali Worshipped By Both Dharm And Adharm, The Mortal And The Immortal (Tantric Devi Series)
Of the 32 Basholi watercolours that have been found of tantric devis, no less than 17 of them feature the Devi Bhadrakalil. The shaant swaroopa (peaceful form) of the super-wrathful Devi Kali, Bhadrakali is the wife of Veerbhadra. Her skin is the colour of barely molten gold, like a stroke of fiery lightning as local verses go. She is dressed in a feminine, flowing green skirt accompanied by a gold choli and translucent dupatta. Her shringar is dominated by pearls and gold. Her dense hair is piled atop Her head in place of a crown (one of the many things that sets this watercolour apart from the others in the series), held together long black winding snakes. More snakes wind around Her torso and Her limbs, each longer and blacker than the other, with its hood raised ferociously.

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.

Tribhang Murari Chaturbhujadhari Krishna, With The Towering Kirtimukha Crown
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Tribhang Murari Chaturbhujadhari Krishna, With The Towering Kirtimukha Crown
The most relatable of the Vishnu-avataras, the most widely loved deity of the Hindu pantheon. There is no way the heart of the spiritually inclined would not turn to Lord Krishna. Here He is in the iconic silhouette of the tribhang murari, which is Sanskrit for 'flute-player (murari) with the body jutting out (bhang) in three (tri) places'. In addition to the shoulder, the hip, and the ankle, the cascading sashes of the dhoti and the extended rays of His halo add harmony to the brass composition. His roopa is the very epitome of youth - tall stature, long limbs, luscious musculature. No wonder He was the blue-eyed boy of Vrindavan, especially with the young gopis whose hearts uncontrollably went out to Him.

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.

Traditional Yali Temple Pillars
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Traditional Yali Temple Pillars
The Yali is to Indian culture what the griffin is to Greco-Roman culture. It refers to a creature that has the features of the most powerful members of the faunal kingdom, and is yet more powerful than all of them put together. The Yalis in this one-of-a-kind wood sculpture have the mane of a lion, the teeth of a crocodile, and the musculature of a horse. An age-old symbol in the visual arts of the South, the Yali composition gained prominence during the sixteenth century. It could be found to grace temple doors and pillars across ancient temples in South India. This mythical creature is considered the guardian-protector of the temple where it is installed, usually in pairs.

The Yali sculpture that you see on this page is a pair of handcrafted brackets, chosen for its one-of-a-kind composition. The Yalis are adorned with green and orange fabric, their long tails wound around a matching floral motif. A couple of kneeling elephants raise their trunks at the feet of the respective Yalis. Their dense black mane contrasts sharply with the white of their spine-chilling dentures. At their feet are traditionally carved lotus-petal structures, more of which are to be found at the top of the pillars behind their backs and on the roof over their manes. Zoom in on the wood-carving to appreciate the beauty and precision of the workmanship.

The Introspecting Shakyamuni
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The Introspecting Shakyamuni
We all know the Buddha as the Enlightened Shakyamuni, seated in the perfect padmasana. Upon hearing His name, an image of His gracious form steeped in meditation or involved in vitarka or even cradling the characteristic alms-bowl. He is the ascetic supreme, and such an image befits Him. However, there is more to the Buddha than asceticism and enlightenment. Before those came years of introspection and intense reflection. It is one such episode - nay, a moment - that has been captured in this sculpture of the Buddha. An unusual portrayal of the Shakyamuni prior to His Enlightenment. He is seated with His legs folded, a knee raised to support His heaving head, which He cushions with His soft, gracious hands as He begins to lose Himself on an inward voyage.

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.

The Glorious Hanuman, The Jewel Of The Ramayana
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The Glorious Hanuman, The Jewel Of The Ramayana
The more that is said about Lord Hanuman, the more that remains left out. Of superlative strength and great personal beauty, this vanar-roopa deity is best known for His devotion to Rama in the itihasa. Vanar-roopa, because He used to be very mischievous as a child (son of Anjanadevi and Vayudeva) and had subsequently been punished with a blow to the face Indra Himself. He was tutored by Sooryadeva, and is the most perfect of yogis across space and time. In the necklace of Ramayana characters, He is the brightest jewel. Of elegant speech and extraordinary intelligence, it is His active devotion to Rama that enables the latter to finally rescue His wife from the clutches of Ravana. From consoling Vali's queen Tara upon His death in the hands of Rama to being entrusted to lead the Southern-bound troops (because the likelihood of Her being found there was the highest) and discovering Her thus, He was indispensable to His master.

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.