With this frame of mind - widely known and accepted by historians, a painting portraying Mansingh worshipping Devi is something unique and gives his personality absolutely new dimensions. Though a contemporary work, Mansingh's portrait corresponds, in each and every detail - broadest and minutest, to his contemporary portraits, and, hence, his identity cannot be doubted. Besides, the form of architecture, distant topography, style of clouds, colour-scheme, type of plants, flora and fauna - all characteristic of Jodhpur painting style, suggest that the painting might be based on some Mansingh's contemporary miniature. Mansingh was perhaps the greatest connoisseur of painting amongst all Jodhpur rulers and under his patronage were rendered hundreds of paintings to include many illustrated texts of Shaivite line - Shiva Purana, Shiva Rahasya, Durga Charitra
but a painting portraying him worshipping a divinity other than his mentor is not, at least widely, reported. Thus, even if contemporary, the painting, as it truly reveals the past, is of rare significance to art historians, scholars and others.
The twenty-armed Devi, carrying various attributes - both Shaivite and Vaishnavite, in her hands, is seated on a fully spread lotus laid over a hexagonal golden chowki. Six lions support six corners of the hexagon on their heads like its legs. The chowki is laid against a beautifully wrought marble pavilion comprising a massive golden partition, or door, under a beautiful canopy adorned with golden fringes and supported on golden poles. She has over her head a gems-studded golden chhatra - umbrella. On her left stand in obeisance Shiva in two forms, one with golden complexion, and other, blue, representing him in his Bhairava manifestation. This form of Devi manifests her all forms including Bhairavi, hence, Shiva in attendance in his two aspects. Quite meaningfully, Shiva proper is waving a flywhisk, while Bhairava has a morachhala - flywhisk made from peacock feathers, which usually those practising occult arts use. Bhairava, being the presiding deity of tantra and occult art, rightly has peacock-feathers bunch. In front of the Goddess stands Maharaja Mansingh with folded hands. Besides the Man-shahi turban adorned with his chosen crest and ornaments, he is wearing a wide and long flared jama with full sleeves identical to what late Mughal emperors, particularly Farrukhsiyar, wore. The sash - red and wrought with gold wires and inlaid with precious stones, is worn above the waist almost around the belly. Background is conventional. Beyond the trellises is the usual garden with banana plants, Saptaparni trees and colourful parrots. Ahead the garden is the lake teeming with louses and aquatic birds. On the other side of the lake is green slanting patch of land looking like a hill, and above is the dark blue sky with curling clouds of deeper blue on the apex.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.
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