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Vitarka Mudra Buddha, Seated In A Glade

Vitarka Mudra Buddha, Seated In A Glade

Having originated as bhitti chitra (wall paintings), Madhubanis are a rage among folk art connoisseurs. This is because the charms of the original Mithila style, the region of Bihar where this form of art originated, are largely intact, arguably unlike other Indian folk arts. The work you see on this page is unconventional in that it deviates from the norm - it is done on portable canvas to cater to modern-day demands as opposed to a mud-plastered wall, and no vivid colours are to be found between the lines of the composition. However, the thick black lines of the Buddha's form and the elements of nature that surround him, occupy every surface area unit of the handmade paper canvas. Both the subject and the style betray the spiritual ethos of the home of Madhubani art.

It is a complex work - curves of varying lengths, thickness, and degrees of straightness put together a picture that is simple yet eloquent. A solemn, haloed Buddha sits in poorna-padmasana on a magical lotus in a glade. One of His hand is in the vitarka mudra; an alms-bowl rests in the other. He has only fawns and peacocks of the forest for company. Delicate sprigs fill the forest floors, while the woods begin to thicken in the background. Apart from the kundalas, the Buddha has His princely shringar on, a reminder of His early life in the Shakya clan. Zooming in on His halo, one would see a rim of gorgeously symmetrical lotus petals. This Mithila painting would add to your space an ethos of the rustic and the ethereal.

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The Flaming Tresses Of The Devi Mariamman

The Flaming Tresses Of The Devi Mariamman

Devi Mariamman is the name given in South India to the more recognisable Sheetala Mata. She is known to infuse Her devotees with divine cool and calm ('sheetal' in Sanskrit means 'cool'). In Tamil, the suffix 'amma' stands for 'mother', denoting the nature of the people's devotion to Her. She has been traditionally worshipped as the curer and eradicator of the smallpox disease, and even though smallpox is almost unheard of in India, devotees flock to Her temples in ever-increasing numbers to this day. This svaroopa of the Devi Mariamman has been carved out of wood. Given the statement singhasana (lion-seat) and the votive pedestal the composition is on, it is clearly designed to be housed in one of the signature temples of the South.

The finish of the work is inimitable - a lifelike composure of countenance, the smooth musculature of Her form, and the shringar that rests against Her body. She is draped in green silks; a necklace of emeralds rests on Her torso; and hints of green are to be found in the crown that towers above Her head. In Her four hands She bears (clockwise from posterior right of the Devi) a snake-clad damru to indicate Her identity with Shiva, a trishool to indicate the three kinds of pain (adhyatmika, adibhoutika, and adidaivika), a kapala cup that She holds out as an offering to Her devotees, and a dagger to battle adharm with. Like Hindu devis usually are, She is beauteous and calm; She fulfills the needs and wants of Her devotees; and maintains the stability of the dharmic cycle by Her very presence.

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The Four Harmonious Brothers Reach The Fruit Of The Tree

The Four Harmonious Brothers Reach The Fruit Of The Tree

The four brothers are in harmony as they traverse the Himalayan foothills in this gorgeously coloured thangka. Ample verdure coats the numerous hills dotting the landscape. Deep blue waters, abound with life and motion, punctuate the same. Some of the taller hills are covered with snow, their cloud-kissed peaks painted with a skill endemic to Tibetan and Nepalese thangka painters. In the centre are the four brothers, each arranged on top of the other in terms of seniority (partridge over the rabbit, over the monkey, over the elephant). A recurring motif in Buddhist-inspired visual arts, this arrangement conveys the importance in Buddhist tradition of honouring age above nobility or greatness or learning.

It all started when the brothers fell out with each other, and in a state of mutual discord turned to discussing the age of the banyan tree (which has been painted ahead of the brothers in the direction they are taking). While the elephant remembers it as a bush from his childhood, the monkey remembers it as a mere shrub and the rabbit as a leafless sapling. However, it is the partridge that had carried its very seed in his body and planted it there, so he is the one sits above the rest of his brothers. This is the Tittira Jataka parable that the Buddha had narrated to teach his disciples that age comes above everything else. In fact, it is this arrangement that enables the partridge to reach for the fruit of the banyan tree to share with his brothers.

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The Glorious Hanuman, The Jewel Of The Ramayana

The Glorious Hanuman, The Jewel Of The Ramayana

The more that is said about Lord Hanuman, the more that remains left out. Of superlative strength and great personal beauty, this vanar-roopa deity is best known for His devotion to Rama in the itihasa. Vanar-roopa, because He used to be very mischievous as a child (son of Anjanadevi and Vayudeva) and had subsequently been punished with a blow to the face Indra Himself. He was tutored by Sooryadeva, and is the most perfect of yogis across space and time. In the necklace of Ramayana characters, He is the brightest jewel. Of elegant speech and extraordinary intelligence, it is His active devotion to Rama that enables the latter to finally rescue His wife from the clutches of Ravana. From consoling Vali's queen Tara upon His death in the hands of Rama to being entrusted to lead the Southern-bound troops (because the likelihood of Her being found there was the highest) and discovering Her thus, He was indispensable to His master.

This brass sculpture captures the divinity of the Lord with considerable skill. Its smooth glistening surface exudes power. The musculature of His form, the lifelike silks that clothe Him, and the aspects of His shringar have been sculpted with great detail. His tail, glorious as it is, flourishes behind His head like a halo. A minimalistic crown sits on His brow, set off by a determined composure of countenance. In one hand is the signature goad, while the other is raised in blessing. A simple, statement double-lotus pedestal completes the composition. Zoom in on the embroidery on His sashes and His loincloth to admire the skill of the artisan who made this.

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Storm-Gray Designer Floor-Length Anarkali Suit with Printed Golden Bootis and Zari Embroidered Border

Storm-Gray Designer Floor-Length Anarkali Suit with Printed Golden Bootis and Zari Embroidered Border

The Anarkali-style suit is the Indian version of the western ball-gown. Long and flowing and characterised by voluminous skirts, it is an ensemble fit for no less than a queen. The dress you see on this page is one such Indian Anarkali suit comprising of trousers, dupatta, and a dress-kameez to-die-for. The colour is a soft pale gray that makes for a feminine statement. It brings out the glittering gold of the booties printed along the length of the skirt. Its hem is adorned with dual panels of embroidered gold lace. Note the ample pleats that the skirts of this dress have been gathered in, and how gorgeous it would look as you motion.

It is no wonder that the dupatta is a relatively simple strip of silken fabric; after all, with Anarkali-style suits it is the kameez that is designed to be the showstopping element. It has a miniscule pastel-coloured trim at the hem, and a bunch of tiny white booties spaced out across the field. This Indian suit comes with signature choodidar trousers in matching gray colour. The USP of the ensemble lies in the long-sleeved, beautiful seamed bust. From its high, soft round neck emerges a strip of golden discs of varying sizes that lies in a semicircle over the bust, enclosing more of the printed gold booties.

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A Powerful Vision Of The Ferocious Bhadrakali (Tantric Devi Series)

A Powerful Vision Of The Ferocious Bhadrakali (Tantric Devi Series)

The image of the solo Bhadrakali is as powerful as it gets. The paintings in this series have been reproduced from the famous Basholi watercolours, all the hallmarks of which are to be found in this one. A naked, barely adorned corpse for a pedestal; portrayals of Shakti-roopa devis from India's tantric tradition against a solid-coloured background with minimal hints of landscape; and a singular shringar and style of crown for the deties in question. The Devi Bhadrakali is dusky, the ashen blue of Her silks blending with Her complexion. Chunks of gold in Her pearls-dominated shringar match the gold on the border of Her garment. She rules over not just the universe as we know it, but also whom we consider the rulers of the universe.

Her head is set with a crown that befits Her heavenly status - it is ornate and made from gold, studded with emeralds and trimmed with three pink lotuses that are just about to bloom. The halo that surrounds Her head is in the form of the sun itself, albeit a solid grey colour that gives off rays of pristine light. From the colour of the moors behind Her, it seems that the sun may have set and the twilight is making way for the dusk. Zoom in on the Devi's face, wherein lies the beauty of the whole composition. A ferocious composure of countenance characterises that beauteous face, with the large bloodshot eyes and the awe-inspiring fangs that emerge from betwixt Her luscious lips. A third eye is to be found on Her vibhuti-smeared brow, on which sits a sliver of the silver moon.

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The Four Harmonious Friends Wall-hanging (Made In Nepal) (mthun-po spun-bzhi, Skt. Catvari anukulabhratr)

The Four Harmonious Friends Wall-hanging (Made In Nepal) (mthun-po spun-bzhi, Skt. Catvari anukulabhratr)

The motif of the four harmonious friends is to be found in abundance in Buddhist-inspired art everywhere. The four brothers comprise of the elephant, the monkey, the hare, and the partridge; whilst the all-important harmony lies in their position relative to each other. This harmony was established after a period of mutual discord. The brothers had gotten down to discussing the age of a banyan tree in the Himalayan foothills where they dwelt. The elephant had seen it when it was a bush; the monkey, when it was a shrub; and the rabbit, when it was a tender leafless sapling. However, the partridge remembers having carried its very seed in its body and planted it there. His age and seniority were thus established, and mutual respect and harmony restored amidst the four.

The exquisite wall-hanging that you see on this page features this all-important motif. The same is a fine example of Nepalese handiwork, the copper repousse having been done with great skill and labour. Zoom in on each aspect of the work to take in the sheer level of details - the adornments on the elephants and the landscape they are walking on, the series of lotus petals and gems of red and blue that frame the central motif, and ashtamangala symbols laterally arranged on either side of the same. Peacocks and a kirtimukha image are on the lower panel, while the upper one features more complex repousse. The whole composition is framed by more lotus petals that run along all four sides of the wall-hanging.

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Garnet-Rose Bedspread from Gujarat with Embroidered Kutch Patches and Mirrors

Garnet-Rose Bedspread from Gujarat with Embroidered Kutch Patches and Mirrors

The right bedspread could work wonders for your space. After all, the bedroom is the inner sanctorum that rejuvenates you each night and should be an image of all that you hold dear. The bedspread you see on this page serves just the purpose. A warm colour palette against the superb cotton make of the spread creates an item that is designed to add comfort and personality to your space. A riot of soft natural pastels, to be found in remote Gujarati countrysides, infused with a vibrant, dominating shade of red is as characteristic of Kutch as it gets. It is a region known for the lively and colourful textiles produced by the women, a fine example of which is this bedspread.

The signature patches that grace this bedspread feature the rustic style of embroidery that has been perfected locally in Kutch. Tender foliage motifs in natural colours are to be found in abundance, the same having been puntuated with miniscule silver mirrors that shimmer against the light. All these are the rage across the subcontinent, which explains how widely coveted are the dupattas, ghagras, and home decor fashioned in the region. Infuse your space with a bit of the essence of India - earthy colours, rangoli-esque motifs, and a disntinctly endemic art of embroidery - to return to each night.

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The Birth Of Andhaka, From Devi Parvati's Playfulness Upon Mandara Parvat

The Birth Of Andhaka, From Devi Parvati's Playfulness Upon Mandara Parvat

On a warm and clear blue-skied day, Lord Shiva sits on the mount Mandara. He has assumed the poorna-padmasana on a tiger-skin, and is steeped in dhyana. The conscious depths He is in could be gauged from the depiction of His form - five heads, ten arms, complexion like the polar dusk, and all the chakras of the body prominently shining through. The little Ganesha, His son, is sitting on His lap. He is enjoying a laddoo - no picture of the Lord Ganesha is complete without a laddoo in the periphery - and is lovingly held in place by His father. The trusty Nandi and a tiger have been painted in the foreground, quietly sitting on the flowers and verdure of the region. There is nothing to disturb the calm of the situation, till Mother Parvati arrives on the scene. Gorgeous as She is, She is a most playful mood the morning of the painting.

She creeps up behind Her husband, who is too consumed by dhyana to notice the rustling of Her silks and the tinkling of Her shringar. She is carrying a musical instrument, which She holds with one hand and the rest of Her hands She places on each of the three eyes on each of Shiva's heads. In the midst of His dhyana, with His eyes shut out, a darkness descends upon existence. As the palms of the perplexed Parvati perspires, a blind child is born of the fluid. Whilst the universe regains its light as Parvati stops Her trick, the baby Andhaka is given away to the childless Hiranyaksha. It is Him who grows up to earn His boons from Brahma Himself and rule the lokas as Andhakasura. Against the backdrop of undulating hills, pristine temples, and roseate skies, no one seemed to have seen what was coming.

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Mask Of A Lion Wall-hanging

Mask Of A Lion Wall-hanging

The lion holds a place of pride in Indian culture. The most ferocious creature of the wilderness, it serves as the vahana of Devi Durga Herself. Even Narasimha, an all-important Vishnu incarnation, is half-lion and half-man. Lions are also an indispensable aspect of Buddhist symbolism - they grace stupas and pillars and entrances to places of worship across South and Southeast Asia. The wall-hanging you see on this page depicts the face of a lion in all its ferocity. Mounted on your wall, it would be sure to add to your space an aura of the raw and the rustic, the brute and the invincible, the powerful and the indomitable.

The sheer degree of skill that has gone into this work could be gauged by zooming in on the mane and the face amidst the same. Each strand of the man, the alternating black and gold streaks, and the realistic ends of each clump of hair make this a one-of-a-kind sculpture. The musculature of the face is so lifelike. The eyes convey fierce anger, and the jaws are set to make the onlooker go weak in the knees. Note the curves of the whiskers beneath the fiery nostrils of the lion. Hang up this formidable work of art to add an aura of the wild and the otherworldly in your space.

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