This great masterpiece of wood-art has captured the four-armed goddess of learning, arts, music, literature and drama, in a rhythmic move, a posture of dance as if made to personify in her being 'nratya', the prime form of music and drama, which comprises her very being. In two of her four hands, she carries her usual 'vina', but not as a formal iconographic feature. She is seen playing on it much like a living being. The melodious notes that emit from its strings not only make birds sing, flowers bloom and the entire ambience glow but also send her into a state of trance, and now in ecstasy her feet resort to dance, body curves, bosom swells and eyes descend deep within. There emerges on her enrapt face absolute bliss, contentment and quiescence. In her other two hands she is holding the 'japamala' and the book. Book is symbolic of Vedas, which Brahma, her spouse, acclaimedly wrote and is an essential feature of his iconography. So is 'japamala'. These attributes, Saraswati shares from Brahma's iconography.
The statue comprises a 'pitha' consisting of a conventionalised lotus of moderate height, the deity image with a lotus base, and a fire-arch 'Prabha'. From the 'pitha' rises a lotus, large enough to support the deity image. A tough stem carries the flower on it. Flanking on either side are two devotee-figures engaged in ecstatic dance. Each one has in one of her hands a lotus and the other is held in a gesture of dance. 'Puranas' have conceived Saraswati with different body colours but the artist preferred instead, wood's purity. Rather than as a deity, he conceived his image of the goddess as a woman with timeless vigorous youth and unmatched beauty, something that bursts from the glow of her face and rising breasts. Some of the 'Puranas' invoke Saraswati as the deity with 'paripurna' and 'unnata stana' breasts, large, high and full of milk, that is, as the sustainer of life. This Puranic perception might have influenced the artist in modelling deity's breasts. Though elaborately bejewelled, the upper part of her body, above her waist, has no costume. She is wearing a large towering crown and has behind her head a celestial halo. The fire-arch consists of conventionalised creeper with beautiful leaves and a parrot-couple perching. It defines the ambience around the goddess and imparts to the statue exceptional beauty.
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.