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Rama-Durbar Amidst Tropical Verdure

Rama-Durbar Amidst Tropical Verdure

Mysore paintings are midway through classical and popular Indian art traditions. The paper equivalent of Tanjore paintings (Tanjore paintings employ a fabric canvas), it is characterised by an eloquence that is possible only for the artisans of the South. Like the fine example you see on this page, Mysore art comprises of highly expressive paintings. The traditional painter draws from the wealth of images afforded by Indian mythology, and infuses his work with the devotion in his simple heart. The theme of this one is the much-discussed Rama-durbar, comprising of Purushottam Rama, His beauteous Seeta, and the devoted duo of Lakshaman and Lord Hanuman, each of whom are much idolised in Indian lore, their travails glorified, shining examples made of their characters that are thoroughly annealed into the Indian psyche.

The deities have been painted with all the opulence of articulation that belongs to Mysore paintings. They are dressed in richly coloured silks, their gold shringar as ample as befits those of the best of us. Purushottam Rama is on a velvet pedestal, before which prostrates the great Lord Hanuman. He is flanked by that part of His family that refused to let Him go into vanvaas (literally, 'stay in the forest', referring to His exile) on His own. A couple of cherubs, with heavenly bodies behind their backs, are showering Him with sweet-smelling white flowers. Note how realistic the backdrop is - warm tropical skies and a bed of verdure. The bottom of the painting is made up of a series of South Indian saints famous for their devotion to the Lord.

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Blue-Jewel Traditional Brocaded Sari from Bangalore with Woven Bootis and Temple Border

Blue-Jewel Traditional Brocaded Sari from Bangalore with Woven Bootis and Temple Border

Fashioned upon rudimentary backstrap looms, the Bangalore brocades are counted among the most sumptuous Indian sarees. Resplendent silk ground fabric, luxuriant booties, a generous spin of tradition: this saree has it all. The richly dyed cloth is set off by the brilliant gold of the border - the layered red, followed by the dazzling woven templetops - and the booties. Your choices gold pieces, ideally the hand-me-downs, should accompany this gorgeous evening saree.
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Dashabhuja Kali, As Invincible As She Gets

Dashabhuja Kali, As Invincible As She Gets

Undeniably the fiercest of the Hindu devi pantheon, the very picture of Mother Kali strikes terror into the heart of the adharmee. Her skin is an all-encompassing dark black; Her form, a fearless naked; and shringar, minimal. The complexion is set off by the mercilessly bloodthirsty composure of countenance, with that glittering bit of visible tongue, that is an indispensable part of Her iconography. The only things that clothe Her are garlands of adharmees' heads that She has severed, and a girdle of severed arms that Her karma-yogi devotees have offered to Her (this is because one observes one's karma with the hands). Instead of the usual silks and jewels that grace the rest of the devis, the seat of Kali's personality lies in the numerous divine weapons She holds in each of Her ten (dasha) arms (bhuja).

This lifelike sculpture of the Devi will add to your space a strong aura of the wrathful and the invincible. Zooming in on Her limbs and face will enable you to appreciate the great skill that has gone into putting together such an effective portrayal - the lifelike musculature, the high-precision digits, and the superbly smooth skin. No wonder they call Her Kali because She is said to have conquered kal (time) itself in Her unflinching pursuit of dharm across time and space. One of Her legs is raised and positioned on the chest of Her supine husband, the Lord Shiva Himself, who succumbs to Her ferocity. What distinguish this composition from your run-of-the-mill Kali sculptures are the looming crown and the ornate double-lotus pedestal, each of which has been engraved with great skill and labour.

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Har Ki Pauri, A Ghat Of Prime Importance Since The Vedic Age

Har Ki Pauri, A Ghat Of Prime Importance Since The Vedic Age

Ghats (riverbanks) are places of worship for the Hindu people. This is because the river is a rich source of nourishment for human settlements, and consequently the ghat the nurturer of the greatest civilisations. Despite growing urbanisation in the subcontinent, it is very common for people to make pilgrimages to ghats, each of which is of considerable Vedic significance. The one depicted in this paper watercolour is Har Ki Pauri, which in the local Khari boli means 'the steps leading up to the lord'. It is said that Shiva and Vishnu had been at the Brahmakund in this ghat during Satyayuga together (the Brahmakund is where drops of the otherworldly nectar has touched the earth). No wonder this ghat is counted among the most popular pilgrimage destination in North India, and is a subject of choice with artists.

Artist Navneet Parikh has depicted with perfection the life and spiritual current flowing through this ghat in Haridwar. A pale twilight sky, characteristic of the plains as you go northwards into the mountains, sets off the masterful stone templetops with great beauty. Do not miss how consummate is each curve of the sculpted edges, how lifelike the light of the setting sun reflecting off the smooth stone surfaces. The two trees on either side in the background, their slim winding trunks ending in shocks of deftly stippled leaves, add balance to the composition.

It is the stream in the foreground that is the most challenging part of the painting. Complex brushstrokes in shades and tints of blue have gone into a highly realistic portrayal of the sacred Ganga waters. The couple in the foreground is making an offering to their ancestors, while the damsels nearer to the steps - their black tresses loosened - are busier having a good time than proverbially washing off their sins. A couple of maidens are simply taking a walk along the ghat, deeply absorbed in conversation. While a wealthier couple sits in consultation with the Brahman to the right of the viewer, a yogi is performing padmasana in the other end of the frame. Note how flawless is each and every detail of the figures - their limbs in motion, their garments in line with traditional Northern fashion, and the shringar of the ladies.

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Haloed Chaturbhuja Vishnu, Of Lifelike Proportions

Haloed Chaturbhuja Vishnu, Of Lifelike Proportions

Vishnu epitomises motion. The hymns sung to Him in the Vedic yuga and recorded in the Rigveda describes how His three strides are enough to cover the three aspects of ihaloka ie ihaloka in its entirety. In the same hymn it is extolled that He did this in order to rescue us mortals of our inherent distress, towards which cause He has famously descended amongst us in His multiple reincarnations. He is Sheshnag, as He lies peacefully on the giant snake, dreaming up the universe as His wife Devi Lakshmi sits at His feet. He is Narasimha, a ferocious half-man-half-leonine creature that bursts forth from a pillar and tears apart the ahdarmee. He is Rama, the superlative of manhood who enlists a faunal army to rescue His kidnapped wife. He is Krishna, the prince-cowherd as charming in His infancy as in His youth.

The Lord Vishnu is worshipped in all His iconographical beauty, which is brought out with great skill and devotion in this one-of-a-kind larger-than-life Vishnu sculpture. He stands in the fullness of His stature on a blooming lotus, clad in a silk dhoti and angavastram. He is chaturbhuja (four-armed) Vishnu: He holds the discus, the conch, and the goad with three hands, whilst raises the fourth in generous blessing. Streams of gold shringar clothe His torso, while the gold of the engraved sun constitutes His halo. From beneath the kingly crown on His head emerges a cascade of luscious locks down His back. From the overall musculature and the limbs to the features of His composed countenance, this is the most alive murti of Lord Vishnu that there is.

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The Timeless Appeal Of Ganesha (Trailokyamohana)

The Timeless Appeal Of Ganesha (Trailokyamohana)

Ganesha's timeless appeal has been captured to perfection in this watercolour by artist Tulsi Das Vimbark. From the chubby limbs in their usual stance, to the characteristic pot-belly of the indulgent laddoo-lover, this painting inspires a world of affection in the heart of the devotee. Note the soft glow of the skin, the effulgence of the elephant-countenance. The golden halo that graces the head offers a contrast to the muted twilight of the background. His jet black curls reach below the shoulders, which probably Parvati, His mother, has arranged in bands of jewels and decorated with a peacock feather. The rest of the deity is clad in colourful silks and studded ornaments across the arms, wrists, torso, neck, and ankles.

Ganesha is rightly named Trilakyamohana. In Sanskrit, 'trilokya' means the three realms of existence and 'mohana' means 'one who enchants'. This boy-deity's celebrated innocence, propensity to grant boons, and childlike beauty enchants the inhabitants of this world as well as the divine. His face is the very picture of invincibility and sublime patience. The trishul on His brow is meant to indicate that He is the son of none other than the cosmic destroyer, Shiva, Himself.

This watercolour would make for a cheerful addition to your space. Seated on a slightly overgrown tree-stump, He would bless your sanctum with His divine gaze. Right afore the thick brushstrokes of the stump, upon the pale pastel green of the grass, is His vahana, the mouse, with an offering of laddoo in its paws. The shadow of the darkening twilight settles upon the luxuriant foliage in the background, while the resplendence of Ganesha's form pours forth from the painting.

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Wood-Ash Handloom Printed Pure Pashmina Shawl from Kashmir with Sozni Floral Embroidery All-Over

Wood-Ash Handloom Printed Pure Pashmina Shawl from Kashmir with Sozni Floral Embroidery All-Over

Every lover of traditional Indian fashion should have a signature pashmina or two in her ethnic wardrobe. This shawl is just the thing to go into yours, what with its luscious proportions that no woman could resist and the gorgeous colour palette that has gone into the embroidery. The pristine foundation serves to bring out the sublime pastels of the same, each characteristic of the Kashmiri landscape where this shawl has been uniquely fashioned. The beauty of pashmina as a textile lies in the sheer degree of skill and patience required to put together each shawl, the requisites for which are nowhere to be found outside Kashmir. Drape yourself in this superbly feminine number and exude that elusive charm of the East.
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Astabhujadhari Durga, In Her Relentless Pursuit Of Adharma

Astabhujadhari Durga, In Her Relentless Pursuit Of Adharma

Devi Durga has no equal in the Indian pantheon, neither among the devis nor the devas themselves. She is of superlative beauty and ferocity; invincible; born to destroy the greatest of the adharmees, Mahisasura. Which explains the presence of the syllables, Mahisasura Mardini (slayer of Mahisasura), in Her sahasranama. This work of art in brass captures the Ashtabhujadhari Durga in all Her strength and divine vigour. Her stance is fearless and rock-like - both Her feet are on the backs of lowly boars, with one leg raised as if to balance the spear-headed end of Her trishool directed at where the defeated Mahisasura is usually portrayed in Her iconography. This is complemented by the fearsome weapons She wields in each of Her eight (ashta) hands (bhuja).

Each of the finish variations this sculpture comes in does great justice to Her beauteous roopa. Her stature is overwhelming, Her musculature that of a yogini. She is clad in a silken dhoti that clings to Her body below the navel, while the rest of Her is bedecked with shringar fit for a devi. A crown as slender and towering as She is sits on Her brow, from the rim of which emerges a cascade of tresses all the way down Her shoulders. Her composure of countenance is compassionate and highly self-assured. The rim of a halo frames Her crown, while layers of lotus petals constitute the pedestal She is standing on.

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Devi Sarasvati Plays The Veena At Dusk (Framed Version Image)

Devi Sarasvati Plays The Veena At Dusk (Framed Version Image)

A Tanjore painting is forever. The crown jewel of Indian art forms, a painting of this style is instantly recognisable from its liberal use of goldleafs and gems. The contemporary work of art that you see on this page is a fine example of this style. It has been made using traditional pigments and finished with 24 karat goldleafs. It is a depiction of Devi Sarasvati, a characteristic spiritual composition. As is typical of Her iconography, She is seated in lalitasana as She plays on Her veena. The magnificent adornments of form - green silks, gold shringar, and flowers - are matched by the ornate kirtimukha temple that She is housed in. Indeed religious paintings of the Tanjore genre are proof that spirituality is the essence of the artistic pursuit.

Tanjore paintings are a blend of art and craft. Having flourished under the patronage of the art-loving Chola dynasty rulers, they are the most beauteous of Indian paintings. Zoom in on each aspect of the painting to appreciate its opulence. Gorgeous colours such as the red of the temple's inner precinct, the inky blue of the dusk of the background, and the numerous flowers and jewels on the Devi's person and Her temple. She is flanked by two birds that have retracted their feathers for the day and are looking up to Her. Offerings of food and flowers are laid at Her feet. This painting would add to the aesthetics and piety of your space.

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Marigold Traditional Brocaded Sari from Bangalore with Woven Bootis and Temple Border

Marigold Traditional Brocaded Sari from Bangalore with Woven Bootis and Temple Border

This traditional saree radiates youth and earthy cheer. A fine example of the much-coveted Bangalore silk variety of Indian sarees, it has all the requisite features: a vibrant base colour reminiscent of ripening marigolds, the eloquent and superbly feminine templetop border, and a foundation of pure silk topped off with elaborately woven booties. Note the thick border and the signature endpiece, fashioned from luscious proportions of brocade against jet black.
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