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Paintings > Hindu > Goddess Saraswati on Her Mount Swan
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Goddess Saraswati on Her Mount Swan

Goddess Saraswati on Her Mount Swan

Goddess Saraswati on Her Mount Swan

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Water Color on Paper
Artist: Navneet Parikh

7.5 inches X 10.0 inches
Item Code:
HK09
Frame
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Viewed 9186 times since 9th Sep, 2010
This excellent miniature represents Saraswati, the goddess of learning, music and art, also known as Vak, or Vagdevi, exactly in a form as has been described in the ‘dhyana’ – hymn dedicated to her. She has been invoked as one who rides a swan, bears the garland of white flowers and charges the ambience with the melody emitting from the strings of her lyre on which she plays. The white-complexioned Vagdevi has a benign face and a gentle smile on her lips. The nectar of learning that her very presence yields fills the minds even of those in complete darkness of ignorance. The four-armed goddess carries in her hands a rosary, book, vina – a stringed musical instrument, and a lotus. Of these, rosary, book and lotus are the attributes of Brahma, her consort. Brahma’s fourth attribute is a battle axe. Hence, and as other texts prescribe, this representation of Saraswati carries the battle axe too, and for accommodating it holds rosary and lotus in one hand.

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 books.


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