This form of Saraswati, besides pursuing the description of her form in texts, seems to have had its proto model in a late eighteenth century Kangra miniature, though in iconographic vision and style of background it makes a subtle departure from Kangra or rather entire Pahari art style and opts Jodhpur idiom of Rajasthani art as it prevailed around late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The style of her eyes, bold features, volume of the figure, and gorgeous costume and overall style, unlike Kangra’s lyrical simplicity of form and costume, and the style of clouds and the pale opaque background, all are features characteristic to Jodhpur style. Maybe, some Jodhpur or Rajasthani artist, while clinging to his land’s style of art, character of ensemble, and iconographic features of those he has been living amongst, created this form of the goddess of learning pursuing the model of the world’s one of the most loved painting styles which prevailed in quiet Himalayan hills just for about fifty years during the last quarter of the eighteenth and the first of the nineteenth centuries.
Alluded to in texts as 'parama jyotiswarupa', that is, one like an ultimate lustrous flame, possessing timeless youth and the glow of multiple moons, Saraswati has been conceived with a complexion as lustrous as gold. This textual form of the goddess aptly reflects in her early sculptures, whether one from the eleventh century temple of the legendary Raja Bhoj of Malwa, now in British Museum, London, or that of the same period from Suhania in Madhya Pradesh, now in the State Museum, Gwalior. This two-dimensional figure of the goddess does not reveal a sculpture’s contours, form and figure, or anatomy; however, there reflect in her eyes a deep emotion, grace and divinity in her entire being, and great beauty of form in her conception. Her fingers seem to be moving on the strings of her lyre and the music emitting from them, pervading the entire ambience giving her image a rare celestial quality, which the majesty of the bird she is riding on is further enhanced.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain
specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of
numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the
curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New
Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of
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