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Contained within a double border, the inner, a black background with red and blue flowers and yellow stems, and outer, a maroon base with mosaic of innumerable yellow dots, the miniature portrays Lord Ganesha flying into the sky over the fog-like curling clouds. Not merely phenomenally, the milky clouds wreathing waves like afford to the image of Lord Ganesha symbolically also a very meaningful background. To the purest of the beings : human or divine, that the most benevolent and compassionate Ganesha is what could comprise a more appropriate ambience than the clouds of the ever nourishing and life-giving milk, overwhelming the sky from horizon to horizon as a bowl frothing with fresh milk. Identically to Lord Vishnu who reclines over the milky waves of Kshirasagara – the ocean of milk, Lord Vishnu’s regular resort, Lord Ganesha has been portrayed as flying across a sky full of milky clouds.
The four-armed pompous Ganesha enshrines on his face the same child-like innocence as ever defines his essential being though contrarily carrying in his hands a mighty bow, a spear and a snake and a quiver full of arrows – the means of destruction, and well in command of his mount with reins carried in his fourth hand in a war-like posture. Except that the snake in his hand unfurls like a war-flag and his mount saddled and reined to targeted command like a horse in battlefield, and its tail, floating into air, identically to Goddess Durga’s lion charging on its prey, his well-composed figure with half-shut introspective eyes reveals complete quiescence and a placid mind. His figure has been conceived as glistening gold-like revealing no traces of anger or agitation as does his father Shiva’s when in his Raudra manifestation.
The gold-like lustrous figure of Lord Ganesha clad in reddish saffron, yellow and purple : the reddish saffron, sash, yellow, loincloth, and purple, ‘antariya’ – lower wear worn over the loincloth, reveals rare beauty in mutual contrast of these colours. In conceiving his iconography/anatomy with long black hair and a short trunk exceptionally balanced with the rest of his figure, greater emphasis seems to be on human aspect. Gold seems to have been the painter’s chosen medium. Not just the figure of the elephant god, his bow, spear, quiver, crown, borders of ensemble, and his mount’s ornaments, all are made of gold. Usually the images of Lord Ganesha are modeled with helmet-type crowns and a large halo behind it. Perhaps for revealing the beauty of hair, the artist has used in this representation a delicate form of crown with a peacock feather crest, and floral ring type halo. His mount mouse has been saddled like a horse and its forelegs seem to wade as over the surface of water.
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.