Lord Shiva is in His characteristic tigerskin loincloth. A bunch of snakes is His only adornment, besides the multitude of rudrakshas on His arms and torso. In one of His hands He holds a dotted kamandalu, without which no picture of the ascetic is complete. His wife, the beauteous Devi Parvati, is in a silk dhoti and gold shringar. She holds in Her delicate hand the lotus of compassion as She looks on at the realm of existence beneath Her heavenly abode. While Her hair is parted in traditional style down the centre and held back with a classical tiara, His is gathered in coils on the top of His head in keeping with the conventional iconography of Lord Shiva.
The couple is standing on a lotus pedestal carved with great finesse. It is in full bloom, its spaced-out petals engraved with dense lines along the edges and centre.
This modern Amoghasiddhi composition leaves out the dual dorje. Instead, His other hand rests gently at the juncture of His padmasana, palm skywards, which is the traditional dhyani (meditative) gesture. The dark olive complexion of the Lord is overlain with streams of gold shringar fit for a Buddha. The large lobes of His ears are graced by bejewelled kundalas. The multi-spired crown on His head befits His heavenly majesty.
He is seated on a bed of gorgeously coloured lotus petals. Surrounding the dominant central figure of Amoghasiddhi are the rest of the dhyani Buddhas - Akshobhya, Amitabha, Ratnasambhava, and Vairochana, each differentiated by the colour of His skin and the mudra of His hands. He is flanked by none other than the tall, beauteous Devis named Tara. They are the queens of the Buddhist paraloka, and the the wives of Amoghasiddhi.
Setting off the unusual tint of green is the flaming scarlet endpiece. The entirety of it has been embroidered with dense proportions of the Banaras-famous zariwork (gold thread embroidery) and finished with a thick brocaded border of matching diamond-weave. The border along the rest of the saree is a gold-coloured one interwoven with sweet purple flowers. Hints of a pale, feminine pink emerge in the endpiece as you motion it against the light. A saree such as this deserves the best of your diamonds.
The mudra of His hands stand for the cyclical (chakra) nature of dharma. In fact, whilst delivering the historic Sarnath sermon, He had assumed the dharmachakra mudra to convey its gravity.
The calm, seated figure is flanked by a pair of miniature stupas, which contain a world of blessings and prayers already answered.
The pedestal the Lord is seated on is engraved with lotus petals. The symbol of compassion, each petal and the space between petals have been carved with skillful attention to detail. It is propped up on three-tiered legs that resemble the shape of Tibetan Buddhist stupas.
From the Lord’s halo emerges a plethora of snakes, the viciousness of their presence neutralised by the gentle hamsas on the edge of the aureole.
The gorgeous latticeworked aureole, with its curvaceous tendrils and leafy protrusions, completes the composition.
His skin is an arresting scarlet colour. Each of His three heads bears a five-spired crown and kundalas dangling from earlobes lengthened by lifetimes of sadhana and accumulated wisdom. His characteristic sword cuts through clouds of avidya (ignorance) and in one of His six hands He holds a manuscript of the Prajnaparamita. The pastel-coloured silks that clothe the Bodhisattva, the tender pink lotus of the pedestal, and the ice-blue fire-spewing creature He is seated on, make for a signature thangka-style colour palette.
At the ends of His aureole sit His two wives, the fairest, most well-endowed beings of the Buddhist paraloka. Across the aureole itself is painted a world of mythical creatures, culminating in a cherub of the tantric world. The peach-coloured lotuses peeking out from the edge of the aureole and the deep blue sky beyond, serve to tone down the aura of these creatures.
The rich azure base colour of this saree is a distinctive hue, which makes this a fit number to be worn on one of the post-wedding rituals. A Bengali bride motif - white saree, red border, garland in her hands - is woven across the field. The endpiece is woven in with panel after panel of motifs, each depicting a particular episode of the bridal journey. Same goes for the moderately thick border that hems in the gorgeous foundation blue. An unconventional Baluchari, this saree would be a great pick for the bride’s sister or best friend.
Lord Nagarjuna is held second only to the Shakyamuni Buddha, which explains His form as captured in this composition. He is seated in a rudimental bhadrasana, His hands in the dharmachakra mudra. This mudra conveys the quintessential Indian philosophy of the existential vyooha (cycle). From the drape of His robe to the tresses coiled atop His head and the kundalas tugging down at His earlobes, Nagarjuna is the very image of enlightenment.
In keeping with the norms of the Nepalese sculptural tradition, the subject is seated on a lotus pedestal. The petals are turned downward, as if drooping from the weight of wisdom-dew. In fact, it is profound wisdom (vivekakhyatiraviplava) that pours forth from His countenance. It is a composure of invincible calm and untramelled bliss. It is a fine example of the region’s devotional handiwork, especially in a select medium such as copper.
The entire range of Radha-Krishna’s amorous experience is a popular subject with Indian painters and sculptors. This watercolour, painted with as much shraddha (devotion) as skill, captures the timeless lovers in the throes of uncontrollable emotion. Lord Krishna draws back Radha against Himself, and tilts Her sweet head back such that their mouths are on the verge of meeting. In turn, She clutches at His black curls in order to draw Him closer, resisting Her Lord being beyond Her nature.
The only sounds other than those of desire are the rustling of His yellow silk dhoti and the soft friction of Her shringar as He motions Her. Their eyes are unshut - they are looking into each other’s through the dusk of the hour, as alluring as the unmistakable colour of His skin.
Indeed the shringar that has been sculpted on this statue is fit for a queen. Layers of necklaces cascading down Her torso from between Her breasts, chunky amulets and anklets that clothe the exposed parts of Her limbs, and a tall ornate crown set off by a lotus-petalled halo and kundalas that graze Her shoulders. She holds in Her posterior hands lotuses that are about to bloom (the word 'padmavati' means one in possession of lotuses), while Her anterior hands are raised in blessing. She stands on a pedestal that is atypical of Indian iconography: two lotuses with the backs of their pistils together, the one blooming upward cradling the Devi's feet.
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