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Paintings > Batik > The Reversal of Roles
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The Reversal of Roles

The Reversal of Roles

The Reversal of Roles

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Batik Painting On Cotton

3.6 ft X 4.0 ft
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BI20
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On a pyre framed by flaming stones, lies the passive body of Shiva. Scattered around are bones and skulls which are a typical part of any cremation ground. Hungry jackals can be seen browsing amongst these gory remains. This however is not the end of the macabre imagery. Standing over the god is his consort, straddling him in a defiant reversal of roles which includes adorning her body with his clothes leaving him sky clad in the process. Complete with his bejewelled turban topped with a hissing serpent, down to the tiger-skin middle garment, the goddess has obviously deprived Shiva of his famous garments, and seems to mock him by draping them on her own beautiful form.

A long garland of fifty skulls extends down her neck, reaching down to the ankles. Each represents one of the fifty alphabets of the Sanskrit language. She has decorated her forehead with the Shaivite mark of three horizontal lines, at the centre of which can be seen her third vertical eye. Her brows are thick and arched and the lips colored a rich red. On the ears hang large kundalas. In addition to regular ornaments, serpents serve as armlets, bracelets and waistbands.

The four arms of the goddess each bear a different implement. While the right hands brandish a sharp and long sword along with a pair of scissors, the upper left holds a full-blown pink lotus, in the stem of which can be seen entwined a venomous serpent. The blooming flower signifies the devi's own auspicious loveliness. Finally the fourth hand supports a bowl full of blood. Here it is relevant to observe that the pliers in her hand identify the goddess as Tara, a form of Kali, who typically holds this instrument in her hands.

The artist Harikrishen has deliberately left the background dark and sombre, adding to the funereal effect of the composition.

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