A brilliant work of art, the painting represents Ashta-bhuja-dhari – eight-armed goddess Durga on her mount, the majestic lion. Not operative, the goddess along her mount is a votive image in static position. She has been represented as seated on her mount quite casually in a posture similar to ‘lalitasana’. The image along her mount has been installed on a terrace paved with marble tiles exactly as are floors in most shrines. A golden balustrade separates the terrace from the background. Over the image of the goddess there is an arched ‘vedika’ and a large splendid ‘kshatra’ – umbrella, hung on it. Except the normal right hand that she is holding in ‘abhay’ in other hands on the right side she is carrying flames of fire, mace and trident, and on the left, disc, lotus, ‘purna-ghat’ – pot, and conch. Manifesting in her form the Great Trinity the image has been conceived with four attributes of Lord Vishnu – lotus, disc, conch and mace, two attributes – flames of fire and trident of Lord Shiva, and ‘purna-ghat’ – pot, the symbolic representation of Brahma. Besides them the goddess has on her forehead the ‘tri-netra’ – third eye, the essential attribute of Shiva and of her Shaivite lineage.
The painting is a rare synthesis of Tanjore art style and miniature idiom though not without a blend of contemporaneousness that the artist unknowingly added. This stylistic blend is so perfect that the eye might hardly discern. Kailash Raj, the known miniaturist of Jaipur who rendered this painting might have hardly known when from his hands slipped his age – his contemporaneousness, and the land of Rajasthan, both his age and land becoming the part of his painting. As it seems, Kailash Raj had in mind the magnificence, resplendence and glory of Tanjore art when there occurred in his mind the gorgeous image of goddess Durga and instead of his puritan idiom of miniature painting he planned representing it in gorgeous Tanjore style. In doing the border along with the inner framing line embellished with floral vines using embossing technique, inlay of semi-precious stones and enameling, and arched ‘vedika’, a symbolic representation of shrine, along with spandrels and pendentives, as also kshatra, Kailash Raj has wondrously used the Tanjore art idiom.
However, it seems that the artist’s own idiom and land soon knocked his door and he had to allow them entry. In doing the floor he resorted to Rajasthan’s court-art and paved his floor with marble tiles like one in a royal palace. For separating the terrace from the outside background when he conceived a balustrade he chose the gorgeous idiom of Tanjore art abounding in great splendour but when rendering it he resorted to same pattern as is commonly seen in Rajasthani court-paintings. Here a golden balustrade has alternated marble trellises or a marble-clad partition wall. The lush green background beyond the balustrade packed with a huge variety of trees and plants, flowering and others – Saptaparni, palms and others, and a wide range of birds frisking from one branch to other, is obviously his miniature art idiom. Such background with nature teeming with birds, and multi-coloured curly clouds in far off sky are not the aspects of Tanjore painting.
Casualness of sitting, unlike the classical mode of ‘lalitasana, front face and the modeling of the goddess’s figure, as also the modeling of her mount, all suggest that the hands that produced the painting are contemporary, not those trained into a tradition such as produced a Tanjore painting. In Tanjore paintings such spaces, especially those behind the goddess under the arched ‘vedika’ that she enshrines, are formal adorned with some floral pattern or other. This vividness of art traditions reflects also in the similar breadth of mediums. As colours are a sole vehicle of a miniature painting, such materials as boards, wooden plaques, metal foils, beads, mirrors, precious, semi-precious stones, enameling lac, gums among others are the vehicles of Tanjore painting. This painting makes use of both and this gives it its rare distinction. Texts perceive the goddess as the supreme beauty and ultimate womanhood, and in her iconic vision – in the quality of her image, beautiful features and a balanced anatomy the artist has appropriately reproduced it.
The is description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet.