As regards the physiognomy of the figure, a four-armed form holding in two of them the ‘vina’, carrying in the third, a text, and the fourth held in the ‘mudra’ – posture, of commemoration, as if turning beads of a rosary : ‘vina’, ‘pustaka’ and ‘japamala’ all are the essential attributes of Saraswati. However, besides the dragon-head of her ‘vina’, design-patterns on her ‘antariya’ – lower wear, character of her ornaments, especially her ear-pendants, armlets and the amulet-type necklace, or her casual sitting posture, the style of her coiffure reveals strong influence of the Buddhist iconography of White Tara. In the iconography of White Tara the coiffure usually carries a tiny icon of the Buddha. Sometimes it is alternated by ‘Tri-ratna’ motif. In both cases the coiffure’s apex consists of ‘Mani’, a term suggestive of the totality of Buddhist dogma which no other term in any language has ever succeeded in imparting in its exact meaning. Obviously, the three knots of the hair, and the fourth, a circular shining apex, in this Saraswati statue represent ‘Tri-ratna’ and ‘Mani’ and are essentially the elements of Tara’s iconography.
Unlike the standard or conventional form of the image of the goddess painted or sculpted as seated on a lotus, goose, peacock … the goddess has been represented as squatting on the floor with her legs turned to back. She has her mount goose, a tiny figure of the bird perching close-by but conceived as carefree roaming around or listening to her ‘vina’ the bird is suggestive of her compassion and love rather than that of its relationship to her as her mount. A most accomplished anatomy with faultless modeling revealing a rare plasticity and divine aura the statute is superb in its beauty and divinity. A sharp nose, large meditative eyes, cute small lips not larger than the chin’s breadth, and the angular chin, on a squarish face define Tibetan/Nepalese iconographic character. Both Saraswati and White Tara have been meditated on as white, moon-like radiant and endowed with divine lustre, which this statue adequately justifies.
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.