Not an aspect or manifestation of the Goddess Lakshmi or a deity-form, Deepalakshmi is a votive image in limited sense sharing some space on an altar as a subordinate icon, just an exclusive and rarely beautiful source of illuminating the space within and without, as also of beautifying any space in a sitting hall or elsewhere. When installed in the sanctum, on auspicious occasions like Deepavali Deepalakshmi is also offered ‘puja’ – worship, along with the festival’s presiding deity Lakshmi. A late seventeenth century innovation, Deepalakshmi form portrays India's long sustained tradition of reverence for women and of celebrating the birth of light as a divine phenomenon. Thus, a Deepalakshmi statue, harbinger of light and auspice, combines the womanhood and light, one in the form of a woman with divine appearance, and the other, making her carry a ‘deepa’ or lamp in her hands.
An auspicious icon of Deepalakshmi or a model of beauty ; a piece for sanctum, a drawing hall or for an office space, the statue, though a masterpiece of metal-cast by its own merit, shares its stylistic excellence with the legendary Vijayanagar art style. Besides an emotionally charged face, her facial features : a round face with broad forehead, large eyes half covered with eyelids and brimming with vigour of life, glowing cheeks, comely chin and sharp nose and tempting lips accommodated within the space the other three defined : creating the magical zone for bewitching the viewing eyes, an elegantly moulded neck, thicker on the base and narrowing in upwards rise, style of hair dressed and knotted like an exotically designed crown, body’s anatomy with moderate height : broad hips, subdued belly with folds and a deeply set navel, sensuously moulded tempting breasts, so swelled as exceeded the nose-line, a baby-banana tree like slender soft arms, fine long fingers, and shoulders aligning in breadth to hips’ breadth, all are typical features of Andhrite sculptures.
A magnificently conceived multi-tiered high pedestal consisting of diversely designed mouldings and lotus-courses enshrines the Deepalakshmi statue. The lower half of the pedestal consists of five hexagonal courses, a plain moulding on the base, an elegantly chamfered fluted, as comprised of stylized lotus petals, over it, and three more, the lower and upper ones being thin and one in between them, heavier. The circular upper half too consists of various mouldings but a large size inverted lotus with a circular top for installing the image dominates it in entirety and gives it its identity as lotus pedestal. The statue has been exquisitely ornamented using a wide range of jewellery, exquisite and exclusive, adorning every part of the figure. Apart dressed like a crown, a number of laces of pearls and a hanging adorn the figure’s hair. She has traditional bells-like styled ear-ornaments. Around her neck and on her breasts lay a number of vividly designed necklaces, one with an auspicious Kirtimukha motif. A more prominent Kirtimukha motif comprises the centre of her girdle and another set of auspicious motifs adorns her arms. Her shoulders, wrists, belly, waist, feet all have been as much elaborately ornamented. Though her ensemble consists of just an ‘antariya’ – lower wear, and a ‘stana-pata’ – breasts-band, beautifully adorned they reveal rare magnificence and beauty.
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.