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Aragon Plain Pashmina Handloom Shawl from Kashmir with Intricate Sozni Embroidered Paisleys on Border

Aragon Plain Pashmina Handloom Shawl from Kashmir with Intricate Sozni Embroidered Paisleys on Border

This solid-coloured pashmina is fit for a queen. The rich colour of moist earth becomes the fabric like no other neutral. Because pashminas have traditionally been woven in statement, feminine colours, this one is sure to stand out. An infusion of pretty pastels characterises the embroidered panels along the edges, which complement the field colour. The motifs are classic - paisleys and chinar leaves, superimposed with miniscule tendrils. These motifs are quintessentially Kashmiri, where these one-of-a-kind shawls are fashioned.

The texture is to die for. Softer than butter, warmer than toast, it could be layered over your choicest evening sarees and suits to exude an inimitable traditional glam. In fact, the word for the fabric comes from the Persian 'pashm', which means 'soft'. No other part of the world has the skill to work with this wool, which itself is endemic to the Kashmir-Tibet region. A single work of pashmina such as this one takes weeks, if not months, of labour to be finished, making these shawls as desirable they are the world over.

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Ornate Peacock-And-Kirtimukha Urli With Temple-Roof And Dangling Dias

Ornate Peacock-And-Kirtimukha Urli With Temple-Roof And Dangling Dias

Placing this urli in your home- or office-temple is akin to bringing to your space an essential aspect of the South Indian life. Urlis have traditionally been a South Indian thing. Placed at the entrances of homes, temples, and commercial establishments, it is supposed to be filled with freshwater, on which freshly plucked morning blooms are floated. This not only makes for a visual arrangement of striking beauty, but also fills the air with an inimitable scent. So simple, yet so powerful, the urli exudes something of superb calm and divinity. The one you see on this page is a highly decorative variant of this age-old element of home decor, a work of art that would uplift the divinity quotient of your space.

It is crafted from bronze, an exquisite medium perfected in the artisan-dominated recesses of Southern India. While bronze-sculpting flourished under the patronage of Chola rulers centuries ago, it is Bangalore that is today the home of contemporary works in bronze. This urli has been handpicked from the best that local studios have to offer. From the legs of the urli and the frontal edge of the curve of the bowl carved with peacocks and kirtimukha, to the ornate temple-esque structure on top, the entirety of the work bears a level of detail and precision that are to be found nowhere else in the world. Lighting the panchadia (set of five lamps) that drops from the 'ceiling' of the urli would add a world of glamour to the arrangement.

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Devi Dhumavati, The Most Unusual Of The Mahavidyas

Devi Dhumavati, The Most Unusual Of The Mahavidyas

Dhumavati is nothing like you would imagine a Hindu devi to be like. One of the das mahavidyas that the great Sati split into in order to contain Her husband, Shiva, Dhumavati is not characterised by the celestial splendour associated with even Her fellow mahavidyas. Her skin is smokey (dhuma is the Sanskrit word for smoke) and She wears the coarse colourless saree of the Hindu vidhva, as opposed to the resplendent youth and thorough shringar (the mark of the sadhva) of the Others. No living being is Her vahana. She rides a horseless chariot and is accompanied by a bunch of jet black crows, which are scavengers and widely believed in India to be the harbinger of bad news. In this muted portrayal by artist Kailash Raj the mahavidya's oddities are so lucid, the colours used so limited yet precise that if one gazes into this watercolour long enough one could almost hear the ominous cackling of the crows that flock to Her.

The Devi's iconography is a powerful depiction of Hindu widowhood. Apart from the highly symbolic white saree that drapes Her aged figure, Her unkempt tresses and no-makeup look convey keen existential sorrow. A bunch of akshamalas on Her neck, arms, wrists, and ankles is Her only shringar. A strange sense of hungering lines Her face. The eyes are listless. Static kula in one hand, the other raised feebly in varada mudra (gesture of blessing), Dhumavati is the very image of tamaguna. However, Dhumavati also implies an alignment of widowhood (an imposition, involuntary) with sanyasa (voluntary renunciation of one's wordly obligations). The Indian widow is no longer constrained by the demands of householding; she is is free to walk the spiritual path in pursuit of moksha. She stands for adversity that serves to build character.

In this light, Dhumavati is the bestower of siddhis. She is invincible and steady in the face of misfortune. The soothing background of the painting brings out the drama of the mahavidya's presence. Gently undulating mounds painted the palest of pastel green rise against the atypical hue of the sunset. It matches the colour of the chariot in the foreground, done up in tints and shades of gold, standing on the flower-studded grass beneath. Note the divinity exuded by the contrast of the gold of the chariot roof against the dimming blue of the twilight skies.

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Blue-Mist Handloom Carpet from Kashmir with Knotted Flowers

Blue-Mist Handloom Carpet from Kashmir with Knotted Flowers

Kashmir is a very important, and turbulent, religious and cultural centre. Famous for its craftsmanship and textiles, the likes of which are to be found nowhere else in the world, ours is a definitive collection of the produce of the looms of the valley. The most tasteful of sarees and jackets, made from wools and silks that are endemic to the mountains, are curated in our textiles section. Another of Kashmir's much-coveted produce is the statement Oriental rug, of which this is a fine example. Having emerged from the local handlooms of the region, it is a panel of sturdy homegrown cotton embroidered with ample proportions of silk to create an object of great beauty.

Knotted by hand, the plethora of flowers that could be seen on this took an eye-watering number of hours on the loom. Considerable skill and labour have gone into this to reproduce the picturesque local flora onto this rug. Varying tints and shades of brown, rich deep reds, and the occasional white make for a distinctly earthy palette, while the infusion of a dense azure into the central panel makes for an eye-catching colour combination. Note the concentric panels and the curves that define them, which are highly characteristic of these famous rugs of the Orient. A miniscule strip of matching azure hemmed along the edges, and short ivory tassels along the breadth, complete the picture.

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The Splendour Of Devi Mahishasuramardini

The Splendour Of Devi Mahishasuramardini

Cast in a medium as gorgeous as She is, the Devi in Her Mahishasuramardini roopa has no equal in any other artistic or religious tradition. She is the powerful nari-roopa (female form), a manifestation of the wrathful aspect of prakriti (the feminine). The name Mahishasuramardini means 'the female one (mardini) who annihilates the buffalo-demon (mahisha-asura)' in Sanskrit; so here She is standing victorious on his chest, flanked by Her infinite arms and borne to victory by a lion Her equal in ferocity. Mahishasura and His steed, the buffalo, lies vanquished beneath Her feet at the hooves of Her lion - he was invincible to all of purusha (men) from a boon granted him by Lord Brahma, but alas! here he is overpowered by a woman instead.

India's bronze tradition has been dominated by such powerful spiritual themes because it originally produced icons for the magnificent temples of the South. Having begun during the reign of the Pallavas in the eight century, then risen to prominence under the patronage of the Cholas from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries, South India has evolved to be the home of bronze. The hallmarks of this great tradition are all over the Devi Mahishasuramardini: Her stature, and the lissome silhouette that accompanies it; the tapering crown that looms on Her head; and the delicately fashioned digits on each of Her limbs. An expression of divine triumph and joy characterises Her gracious brow.

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Panchabuddha Against A Complex Background Dominated By Red And Gold

Panchabuddha Against A Complex Background Dominated By Red And Gold

In the language of myth, and not history, the Enlightened Shakyamuni is best understood as the Panchabuddha (in Sanskrit, 'panch' stands for the numeral 5). The one Buddha as we know Him is resolved into five, like a ray of light refracting into multiple colours through a prism, each embodying an aspect of Enlightenment. These figures have evolved as devotees spent years dwelling on the qualities of Gautama Buddha, the ones flanking the central figure having arrived first in the mandala in question. The pristine figure in the centre is Vairochana. To His right are Ratnasambhava and Akshobya, while to His left are Amitabha and Amoghasiddhi, respectively.

Each of the tathagatas come with their own mandalas and iconographies. Their mudras are unique, the motifs on their respective lotus thrones differentiated and symbolic. Zooming in on each of the figures would enable the viewer to appreciate the differentiations, the only one of which that has been conspicuously highlighted and that is the colour of the skin. The blue, gold, white, red, and green are each associated with their own elements, directions, and maladaptations of the soul. The dominant red-and-gold colour scheme of this thangka makes this a highly desirable panchatathagata composition to possess.

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Pearled-Ivory Wedding Sari from Banaras with Woven Golden Flowers All-Over

Pearled-Ivory Wedding Sari from Banaras with Woven Golden Flowers All-Over

Each year, millions of Indian brides turn to the looms of Banaras whilst putting together their trousseau. It is the home of Indian figured silks, the signature wedding saree of the Indian bride. The fine silk number you see on this page is a product of age-old weaving techniques, which are done today on jacquard equipment as opposed to the traditional naksha drawloom, and an unrivalled attention to detail. It can be classified as a brocade (discontinuous supplementary weft patterning) as well as a lampa (atleast two warps and/or two wefts).

While vibrant reds and greens are the colours associated with Indian weddings, this shimmering ivory number would be a great pick for the rituals preceding and succeeding the evening of the pheras. It has the characteristic thick border of the sarees of this region, and the entirety of the field is woven in with tropical petal motifs in glimmering tones of gold. These Mughal-style motifs that almost always find their way into these sarees lend it something of the regal. Teamed with the best of your latest gold possessions, this Banarasi would indeed turn you into a queen.

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Beturbaned Radha-Krishna In Gorgeous Saffron Silks

Beturbaned Radha-Krishna In Gorgeous Saffron Silks

Radha-Krishna is the most celebrated amorous couple in Indian culture. Having devoted Her all to the most handsome youth of Vrindavan, Radha has the privilege of being an integral part of His iconography to this day. This despite the fact that She could never have Him as Her lord and husband during their time together in ihloka (human realm of existence). The murti you see on this page comprises of the two of them on separate pedestals, with two separate aureoles. Krishna is in His unmistakable tribhanga murari (flutist with the body jutting laterally outwards at three places) form, while His Radha stands graceful and erect next to Him with a hand raised in blessing.

The two are in gorgeous saffron garb, the bejewelled silks of the same teamed with ample proportions of gold shringar. Both the saffron colour and gold are considered auspicious in Hindu culture, with each being the dominant colour at poojas and the preferred make of temple jewellery. The size of the statues is small but the precision of the finish is high (best appreciated by zooming in on different aspects of each figurine), which speaks volumes for the quality of the craftsmanship. Elaborate turbans sit on both their heads, in keeping with the appeal of the rest of their attire. Sculpted from the best of homegrown marble, the medium captures the divine beauty of Krishna's togetherness with His Radha.

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At The Potter's Workmanship, A Moment Of Pure Wonder (Framed)

At The Potter's Workmanship, A Moment Of Pure Wonder (Framed)

Seemingly a still from a dream, this oil painting has a finish bordering on the surreal. The brushstrokes are rough-hewn, like lines from a receding memory. The tone of the composition is captured in the cowdust hour light that pervades the painting. The same is cut through - coldly, in an almost bizarre fashion - by a collection of delicate, pristine compositions at the potter's shop. In fact, it is what dominates the centre of the composition, its peculiarity enhanced by the scantily clad street-entertainer who stands afore the shop and looks on at those works. This painting is of a moment of wonder, of an extent only possible in dream-frame.

Her feet are naked but for the copious proportions of silver round her ankles and toes, a hint of which peers out from underneath her lasciviously draped odhni (note how it reveals rather than conceals her matronly bosom). She's dressed in the locally produced ghagra of the Northwestern desert region, and carries in her hand a tambourine that she thumps on to earn her bread. The rest of the men in the frame pay no attention to her - they are used to her presence, having probably seen as much of her as there is to be seen. The surreal appeal of the painting is complemented by the realistically portrayed earth that dominates a major part of the foreground.

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Radha and Krishna Fuchsia-Rose Zari-Woven Fusion Baluchari Sari from Bengal

Radha and Krishna Fuchsia-Rose Zari-Woven Fusion Baluchari Sari from Bengal

The Baluchar cluster of villages in the Murshidabad district is the home of Bengali figured silks. These rival the slightly more popular Banarasi brocades, together with which these exquisiste silks form a staple of the Indian bridal trousseau. This gorgeous silk saree would be the perfect addition to one, what with the luxuriant coat of gold zari woven against the apt blush-pink of the dye of the base fabric. Both the zariworked paisleys and the miniscule surface areas of silk amidst them shimmer with the motions of the wearer. What makes this a true Baluchari number is the one-of-a-kind enpiece that, characteristically enough, tells a story. A purple border transitions into dark blue over the all-important pleats, then concludes in a statement maroon endpiece. Super-skilled zariwork on the border and the endpiece show moments of Radha-Krishna's togetherness, and Vrindavan gopies singing and dancing to the memory of their Krishna.

Baluchari sarees have a history that goes back more than two centuries, probably all the way to the Middle Ages. The weaving techniques employed to produce these sarees, as well as the means of embroidery, are all possible on the Bengali drawloom to be found only in this region of Bengal. Having traditionally been worn during the autumnal Durgapuja festival, the collection of no saree-loving woman is complete without atleast one Baluchari. Pick this carefully handpicked number to go into yours for the superior quality of the silk and the lifelike appeal of the superimposed zari.

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