Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of learning, knowledge and creativity. She also guides the souls of the deceased to find their way in the afterlife. In the states of Bihar, west Bengal and Orissa, she is considered as the daughter of Durga, along with her sister Lakshmi and brothers Ganesha and Karthikeya. In Hinduism, she is worshipped not only for academic knowledge, but also for her divine knowledge required to achieve moksha.
Here she is represented with four hands where the left hand holds the veena (her instrument) and right hand plays it, symbolizing creativity and accentuates her concern for education as well as music; rear hands hold a book of wisdom and a parrot showing colorful splendor. She is sitting in a lalitasan posture on her sacred vehicle, Swan, immensely carved with proper minute textures symbolizing its ability to differentiate between good and bad. The snake (symbol of death) in Swan’s mouth shows, Saraswati’s control over death. Crown is formed like a temple with a divine flower shape aureole at the back, wears magnificent jewels and artistically patterned clothes adorned perfectly over her body. The smile on her face shows her positivity and the expression of her posture is flamboyant.
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.
The motifs that make up the thick border of this Banarasi saree clearly draw form Mughal aesthetics. Ample florals and foliage have been intricately entwined on the pale pink of the foundation silk, with pastel-coloured threads from medium-sized to the finest available in the market. Across the solid-coloured field of the saree is a plethora of gold booties, woven into the fabric with a finesse that could only be found in the work of the Banarasi weaver. Note the way the soft pink of the border transitions into a richer gradient at the pale gold endpiece. This is just the saree to wear to an evening wedding ritual teamed with some statement jewels from your collection.
The glamour of the Bodhi tree has been captured by the artist with not only skill but also shraddhaa. Shraddhaa, an integral part of the six-fold inner wealth of Shankaracharya, is the word for the kind of devotion that leads one to such spiritual truths and treasures. The same reflects on the high-precision finish of the tree - from the curvature of the branches to the vasculature of the leaves, it is almost quivering with life.
An engraved lotus pedestal forms the seat of the Buddha figure. The inner petals are finished with a delicate silver hue, and are seemingly gathered atop a broad-based stem that bears geometric engravings. The whole composition is placed atop smooth block of wood, wherein the Buddha together with His pedestal may be repositioned.
From their costumes - shimmering silks and powerful pastels, the style of turban on that kingly head - they seem to be provincial rulers of some Deccan pocket. The queen is clad in an elaborate three-piece ensemble, which became popular with Indian women post the phase of Northwestern invasions, which dates the sovereignty of this couple from the late 1800s (the South has been slow to catch up to the influences of the invaders, including fashion and notions of feminine modesty).
It is the backdrop of each painting that betrays the charm and gravity of regal life and living. High ceilings held up by super-smooth marble pillars. Luxuriant velvet curtains with brocaded edges. A teakwood piano, indicative of kingly indulgences. Warm carpets and a fireplace that never stops burning, signs of unrivalled affluence. All these set off the invincible stance of the king and his queens dignified bearing.
This is one saree that would ensure the eyes of onlookers are glued to you all evening. The border of gorgeous gold zari becomes thicker along the pleats as it nears the endpiece and emerges into the signature endpiece. The superfine embroidery is such as to look against the wide variety of colour variations this ensemble comes in. What sets this saree apart from the rest of the Bangalore brocades in our collection are the complex booties across the field - a closed-in gathering of gold foliage featuring a bunch of pastel-coloured petals in each booti. Paired carefully with the jewellery, this saree would turn you into the life of the party.
Her complexion is the deepest shade of black, a sign of Her all-absorbing nature. The superb features of Her face are contorted in a highly characteristic expression of ferocity - eyes boring through adharma, tongue lolling out in thirst for conquering the same. From the seductive mass of hair flying behind Her to the language of Her lithe woman’s body, Her stance is one of untiring ferocity. She is invincible, vanquisher of the finest bit of adharma in the universe.
The iconography in this one-of-a-kind Devi Kali composition is replete with severed heads, the freshly sharpened weapon, and Her husband, Lord Shiva, lying supine at Her feet. The gold and jewels of Her shringar make for a stark contrast to Her complexion. The same could be said about the pink of Her delicate skin, and the halo behind Her head. Atop the same sits a gold crown befitting Her status as the divine protectoress-queen.
The colour palette pours forth with the auspicious good cheer of Indian weddings. The rich yellow of marigolds, with lush-plumage peacocks brocaded on the same. Infusions of purple vines and paisleys arranged in panels along with the rows of peacocks. The unusual yet simplistic zariworked border complements the luxuriant embroidery of the field and makes for a feminine statement. The most distinctive aspect of this saree is the endpiece, a decidedly bridal aspect. A luscious, young shade of red, layered with dense proportions of gold zari embroidered into sleek motifs.
The sculptor has put a lifetime of skill and great labour into this sculpture. From the long dhoti-clad limbs to the shringar-laden torso, the inconography is replete. Add to that the high-precision arms and hands, the curve of the hips in the asana, and the stance of the neck and the brow, and you have a figure that is at once esoteric and lifelike. The crown sitting on Her head is as tall and slender as She is, engraved with motifs that befit the spire of a temple. From the rim of it emerge a cascade of tresses that blend with Her shringar at the lobes and the shoulders. The gorgeous sculpture of the pedestal, arguably enough, steals the appeal of the whole composition.
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