The two of them make a young, elegant couple. The husband has teamed his shimmering dark gold kho with a solid pastel yellow shirt, while the wife wears a full-sleeved blouse in red underneath her embroidered red kho. Designers of traditional khos usually turn to local foliage for motifs to embroider these gorgeous garments. Both the dolls are wearing dark velvet hats that are wide-rimmed, indicating that they may be from one of the northern villages where drizzling snow is a common phenomenon. Tall leather boots is the traditional footwear of choice for both men and women, even though in this case the lady is in gleaming leather pumps. This pair would make for a unique, expressive piece of home decor.
She stands at the threshold of her bamboo hut, moments before stepping in after a round of chores in the courtyard. Something has caused her to pause, as she looks out into the distance with those intense, kohl-rimmed eyes. Perhaps she is waiting to watch her makeshift fields crop before her eyes (makeshift, because jhuming or slash-and-burn cultivation is how Banjaras subsist), a surreal prospect; or her husband is working on the cultivated patch, and she is trying to gauge from his body language whether he is returning to her any time soon. How realistic is the stance of her fingers - especially as she grips the shoot next to her - and the fold of the loosely knotted ghagra against the raised thigh, with its exposed sweep of skin.
From a tall, slender vase, the kind that would probably have been used to adorn the Mughal court, emerges a shock of beauteous foliage. The velvet had been stretched on a wooden stand, and a needle has been used to work - with both hands - the statement gold string onto the fabric. Note the plethora of sequins and semi-precious gemstones that have been incorporated into the complex embroidery, zooming in on which would allow you to truly appreciate the skill and labour that have gone into the finished piece.
From the five-petalled green onyx flower emerges a cascade of glistening silver bulbs. The first row of bulbs is held in place by a horizontal silver band, the next by miniscule silver loops, while the third and smallest row has been designed to exude full dangling glamour. It would give off the soft, susurrous sound of silver touching silver as the bulbs gently collide from time to time. These danglers are best teamed with a traditional ensemble, such as a neutral coloured evening gown or a gorgeous green Indian saree/suit.
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.
The name of the Devi is derived from the Sanskrit root of the verb that means 'to ferry across'. So Green Tara is the saviouress, She ferries the devotee across the ocean of samsara to nirvana. She reaches out to us to enable us to transcend the world as we know it, the very picture of Enlightenment in a form that is relatable and beauteous. She is none of and more than the numerous Taras that you could see on this thangka, each with Her own aureole, seated in poorna-padmasana and dressed in raiment fit for the otherworldly devis. They look down at us with infinite compassion and patience, no matter who you choose to fixate on at any given point in time.
This gorgeous ballgown-esque Anarkali suit is just the thing to wear to parties and gatherings with a traditional spin. The dominant black colour sets the mood of the ensemble to one of reserved and overpowering elegance. The signature bust comprises of black meshwork over a fiery red, more of which is to be found in the embroidery on the full sleeves. Luxuriant patches of zardosi punctuate the ensemble at the waist, along the neckline, down the bust, and at the hems of the sleeves. Zoom in on the same to appreciate the beauty of the Persian-origin silverwork.
This murti of the Lord has been cast in bronze. India's bronze sculptural tradition dates back to the Pallava rule in the third century, when it started to produce icons for the magnificent temples of the South. With the later patronage of the Chola dynasty rulers, the skill to work with bronze truly flourished. Today, South India is the home of bronze, this one having been handpicked from Swamimalai. From the tapering crown that towers above His head to the inverted lotus pedestal He is on, this fne sculpture bears all the signs of authentic Southern workmanship. Note the lifelike portraiture of the digits as well as the spiritually engaging composure of countenance.
It is not likely that her younger counterpart is her equal in form. The elder daughter-in-law is an olive-skinned beauty, set off by the shimmering gold-bordered pink of the lehenga she has chosen for the occasion. Her eyes are a soft brown and large, their expression somewhat withdrawn. It is the raised brow and the subtly pursed mouth that betray the goings-on of her heart. It is the norm in large Indian families to fawn over the latest addition by marriage to the clan, in terms that could be either exalting or demeaning and even both. It is the attention being bestowed upon her that is making the subject of this painting a tad out of place. Perhaps she will take it out on her when they are engaged in domestic tasks together, by chiding her on some excusable pretext but also by helping her make herself at home.
Of that finish and make, this sterling silver set is a fine example. It consists of a three-tiered necklace of silver beads, from which a series of solid silver spikes jut out. It would look superbly elegant as it sits against your decolletage, teamed with those matching drop earrings. Each comprises of a couple of those identical silver spikes smithed together to drop from a complex silver stud. A brilliant pink gemstone of miniscule proportion has been studded at the head of each silver spike in the whole set, infusing to this ensemble a much-needed dash of femininity and colour.
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