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Mahavidya Shodashi (Tripura Sundari) as Visualized in Her Dhyana Mantra

Mahavidya Shodashi (Tripura Sundari) as Visualized in Her Dhyana Mantra

Shodashi (also known as Tripura-sundari, Lalita, and Rajarajeshvari) is a beautiful young girl of sixteen. She is shown seated on the navel of Shiva, who is reclining below her. They are on a pedestal supported by the gods Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, and Indra. Her dhyana mantra describes her as follows: "She shines with the light of the rising sun. In her four hands she holds a noose, a goad, bow, and arrow".

There is an interesting legend behind the origin of Tripura-sundari. We are told that once upon a time Shiva referred to Kali by her name in front of some heavenly damsels who had come to visit, calling her "Kali, Kali" ("Blackie, Blackie"), which she took to be a slur against her dark complexion. She left Shiva and resolved to rid herself of her dark complexion, through asceticism. Later, the sage Narada visited Kailasha and, seeing Shiva alone, asked where his wife was. Shiva complained that she had abandoned him and vanished. With his yogic powers Narada discovered Kali living north of Mount Sumeru and went there to see if he could convince her to return to Shiva. He told her that Shiva was thinking of marrying another goddess and that she should return at once to prevent this. By now Kali had rid herself of her dark complexion but did not yet realize it. Arriving in the presence of Shiva, she saw a reflection of herself with a light complexion in Shiva's heart. Thinking, that this was another goddess, she became jealous and angry. Shiva advised her to look more carefully, with the eye of knowledge, telling her that what she saw in his heart was herself. The story ends with Shiva saying to the transformed Kali: "As you have assumed a very beautiful form, beautiful in the three worlds, your name will be Tripura- sundari. You shall always remain sixteen years old and be called by the name Shodashi.

Tripura-sundari is described in great detail as extremely attractive, beautiful, and erotically inclined. The Lalita-sahasranama details her charms from head to foot, and the majority of the Saundaryalahari is similarly occupied with her attractive appearance. She is often said to give desire and to suffuse the creation with desire. The Saundaryalahari also states that that a worn-out old man, ugly and sluggish in the arts of love, can be restored to physical attractiveness and vigor by her glance. The Prapancasara-tantra says that her worship has such an amorous effect that celestial females such as gandharvas, yakshas, and siddhas come to the sadhaka "with gazelle-like eyes, breathing heavily, their bodies quivering and moist with the pearly sweat of passion; and throwing away their ornaments and letting their clothes fall from about them, bow themselves before him and offer to do his will."

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The Splendour Of Ganesha, The Vahana Perched On The Aureole

The Splendour Of Ganesha, The Vahana Perched On The Aureole

Among the plethora of brass Ganesha murties being made by modern-day artisans, this one stands out. The finish is a regular-smooth, the rich inlay widely used for the charm of the colours. What sets this handpicked figure of Ganesha apart is the statement-making aureole. The rims of six blooming lotus petals flank the central figure, perfectly symmetrically defined with inlay. On either side of Ganesha's padmasana (lotus-throne) is a band of inlay, from which emerges a tiny lotus leaning downwards and a handful of buds down the stem. The top of the aureole is perched on the inlaid rim that constitutes Ganesha's halo, above which is a rudimentary brass lattice leading up to an extension of the top of the deity's crown. Above the lattice is a pair of rats, Ganesha's little vahanas, on either side of a plate piled with laddooes, their backs saddled with inlay and their little necks belled.

This elaborate aureole serves to bring out the flawless iconography of chaturbhuja Ganesha (four-armed). The adorable, tattooed trunk and large inlaid flaps for the ears; all four hands occupied by His signature elements, such as the bowlful of His favourite sweetmeats and the broken tusk with which He scribed the Mahabharata; and portly form that devotees dote over, replete with shringar fit for a king. The inlay has been strategically placed across the brass in keeping with high aesthetic standards. There is another of His vahanas at the unassuming pedestal, kept simple with a few inlaid inverted lotus petals to direct the focus to the aureole.

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Chunky Shiva-parivar Pendant (South Indian Temple Jewellery)

Chunky Shiva-parivar Pendant (South Indian Temple Jewellery)

A single glance at this skilfully smithed pendant is enough to confirm its South Indian temple jewellery origin. When a piece of ornamentation is called temple jewellery, as opposed to spiritual jewellery (astrological prescriptions) and bridal jewellery, it means that it was designed to adorn the idols housed inside temples. South India is the home of temples - the most ancient and awe-inspiring of Indian temples are to be found in its gullies and recesses - and also the home of temple jewellery. The pieces are divine regalia, and have an ethereal charm about them, irrespective of whether it's in the make or the finish or the quintessential motifs. This temple jewellery pendant is a fine example of the same.

It is chunky, relatively large, designed to complete the necklaces of the larger idols. Cast in sterling silver and finished with a delicate gold colour, it would surely jazz up the entire jewellery ensemble it is added to. Temple jewellery dominates the jewellery boxes of classical dancers and even everyday women who want to achieve a particular look. This pendant would make for a great addition to yours, what with the sampoorna (complete) Shiva-parivar smithed onto the frontal section. There is Parvati right next to Shiva on Their trusty Nandi, flanked by their gorgeous sons, Ganesha and Kartika, on Their respective vahanas; and another seated Ganesha figurine dangling from underneath the centre of the elongated pedestal that supports the deities. Zooming in on each figurine would enable you to truly appreciate the workmanship and labour that have gone into this statement pendant.

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Dusk-Blue Zari-Embroidered Designer Salwar Kameez Suit with Embellished Pearls and Crsytals All-over

Dusk-Blue Zari-Embroidered Designer Salwar Kameez Suit with Embellished Pearls and Crsytals All-over

The salvar-kameez suit was brought to India by the women of the West Asian invaders. Comprising of a particular style of trousers, a long embroidered shirt, and a dupatta, this ensemble is the very picture of modern-day elegance. While the saree is still popular with older, married, and upper-caste women, especially the more inland one goes into the subcontinent, young carefree women have embraced the three-piece suit to forge a style that is uniquely Indian. The gorgeous silken suit you see on this page is one superbly feminine and contemporary number, as good a pick for a tranditional evening do as for the more casual side of one's trousseau.

The dreamy blue colour of the base is set off by a world of embellishments. Cream- and brown-coloured booties emulating fresh flower-laden tendrils grace the kameez. The same is punctuated with pristine faux pearls and crystals to enhance the regal appeal of the dress. The neckline is high and fuss-free, as if to complement the midway slit that starts slightly above the knee. Note how the sleeves transition into transparent silk fabric at the elbow, the transition having been marked with more pearls. The dupatta is matching but translucent, and hemmed with a fine strip of gold lace for a look that is as regal as Indian suits get.

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The Tree Of Life Beckons You

The Tree Of Life Beckons You

Folk paintings from the Mithila region of Bihar are coveted all over the world for their simplistic beauty and devotional themes. These are traditionally made by women to decorate the mud walls and ceilings of their dwellings, and have evolved to be made on mobile canvas, fabric, and handmade paper. Anything from a stone to a matchstick, and even one's own fingers, could serve as a 'paintbrush', while the colours used are actually vegetable-derived pigments. The one you see on this page is a Madhubani painting on handmade paper. It has been curated to go into our latest folk art collection because of its unconventional theme.

This variety of paintings are made on spiritual themes. The subjects are usually from the diverse Hindu pantheon, replete with their respective long-established iconography and personal beauty. However, this one draws not from popular iconography but from a much lesser-known motif of the tree of life. This all-important tree in Indian Hindu and Buddhist tradition is said to have infused the Buddha with the ultimate truths of life and enlightenment as He sat underneath it steeped in meditation. Done in a simple tritone palette comprising of solid black, white, and orange that hints at a setting-sun background, the curves of the rising branches are eerily realistic. This one-of-a-kind painting is bound to fill your space with calm and serenity.

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Haloed Saraswati With The Engraved Veena, Seated On The Edge

Haloed Saraswati With The Engraved Veena, Seated On The Edge

This lithe Saraswati has been sculpted to be placed at the edge of the devotee's desk. With one limb pendant, She is seated gracefully in lalitasana as She plays on Her veena, a quintessential element of Her iconography. Speaking of iconography, Her portrayal is atypical of the exquisite bronzes of the Swamimalai region down South: Her countenance is sharply featured, Her limbs precisely sculpted. The highlight of Her shringar is the towering, intricately sculpted and layered crown. Held in place by a band of inverted lotus petals, the same is embellished with kirtimukha and makara images, both of which are symbols of the cyclical destruction waged by time.The rest of Her shringar is as gorgeous as would befit a devi of such ethereal beauty - necklaces cascading down to between Her fertile breasts, long kundalas grazing Her shoulders, bejewelled bracelets along the entire length of Her arm and rings and matching anklets.

The anterior hands are characteristically devoted to the veena. One of the posterior hands holds a pothi, while the other one bears the noose that She uses to rope in the adharmee. The dhoti She wears is held in place by a richly embellished kamarband, the silken fabric clinging against Her skin such as to reveal Her divine contours. Perfectly symmetrical sprigs of vines emerge from the hem of Her crown and rest delicately on Her shoulders. The veena on Her lap, as lifelike as the hands that play it, is engraved with motifs and curves that are in accordance with the Indian aesthetic standard. Seemingly the music She plays is as sweet as Her composure is collected and introspective. Note the unusual, gracious shape of the bindi on Her temple.

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Manipoora Chakra Pendant, Aum Syllable In The Centre

Manipoora Chakra Pendant, Aum Syllable In The Centre

Nothing like a statement chakra pendant to complete your jewellery. According to yoga science, there are seven chakras of the human body, each at a strategic location along the spine. Depending on the nature and intensity of one's sadhana, one becomes increasingly conscious of one's chakras, each of which has its own hue and is represented by a lotus with varying number of petals. The one smithed onto this pendant is the manipoora chakra, whose colour is yellow and the lotus of which has ten petals. This explains the glittering infusion of gold into the work, and the ten loops resembling lotus petals that surround the central motif.

In the yogic texts, the manipoora chakra is said to be located above the navel and is the seat of one's personal power. This manipoora chakra pendant has been made with a lot of care and precision. The mix of gold and silver makes this the best of both worlds, while the statement symbolism of it makes it a buy you cannot go wrong with. On the silver-coloured stone-studded pistil of the all-important lotus is an inverted equilateral triangle that houses the sacred aum syllable. The angles of the triangle infuses a bit of its golden yellow wherever they touch the pistil. On the tips of each of the gold petals is a superbly cut stone that sets off the characteristic glitter.

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Rosewood Kaftan from Kashmir with Ari Embroidered Flowers and Paisleys

Rosewood Kaftan from Kashmir with Ari Embroidered Flowers and Paisleys

Kashmiri kaftans make for a quirky yet classic fashion statement. These long, loose, flowing gowns are superbly comfortable and ultra-feminine, as well as a good alternative to the traditional evening gown. This one is a pure silk number that would just shy of sweeping the floor as you walk, with the sleeves reaching below the elbows such as to leave bare a seductive proportion of skin at the forearm. The low neckline and the pleats that course down the length of this dress are not the only aspects that make it so feminine - the ariwork dominating the field plays an especial role.

Endemic to the valley, the instantly recognisable ari embroidery is the very picture of all that is Kashmiri - colourful, natural, and alluring, as well as exhibiting unmatchable precision of workmanship. Zoom in on the elegant tendrils and the imitations of local flowers hanging from them, and imagine the degree of skill and labour that must have gone into producing that inimitable finish. The rich wine red of the foundation is set off by the signature shimmer of pure homegrown silk, which has been sourced from the harsh climes of the higher altitudes where this kaftan has been handpicked from.

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Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva In The Worship Of Devi Kali

Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva In The Worship Of Devi Kali

This is a powerful painting. It comprises of the sacred trinity of creator (Brahma), preserver (Vishnu), and destroyer (Shiva), and the Devi Kali Herself. Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva are paying their homage in unison to the supreme Devi, while She seated on a flaming pyre in all Her ferocity and divine glory, as the three supreme lords of the composite universe reach out to Her in Their devotion. The pyre that constitutes Her asana is made up of logs of wood and the naked bodies of a man and a woman. The fire that rages around Her has been projected with determined brushstrokes in rich orange, and emits copious proportions of deadly black smoke. The Devi's iconography is what could be termed disturbing for those used to the soothing, maternal image of the Indian devi. Seated in a poorna-padmasana, a tiger-skin functions as Her loincloth, while the shringar on Her limbs and torso comprises of human skulls and wild snakes. With Her four hands (chaturbhujadhari), She wields weapons and dispenses blessings with equal fervour. She lets out her tongue in bloodlust; Her temple bears the spiritual third eye against a spattering of coloured ash; and a pristine moon is perched on Her dishevelled tresses.

Of the three deities, it is Shiva's iconography that is somewhat of a match to Hers. His tresses are as matted and moon-ridden as Hers, as opposed to the ornate bejewelled gold of Their lotus petal-tipped crowns. His tiger-skin loincloth and skull-and-snakes shringar are in stark contrast to the coloured silks and jewels of Brahma and Vishnu. All three deities are barefoot on the lush verdure that makes up the background of this watercolour. Note the ashen-faced curs at the mouth of the pyre, which are seemingly ready to charge on the adharmee.

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Haloed Krishna, The Tribhanga Murari, Plays On The Flute

Haloed Krishna, The Tribhanga Murari, Plays On The Flute

Krishna is the most popular subject of choice for artistes in India. The predominant deity to be featured in paintings and sculptors, it is because He is to most Hindus the superlative of all Indian deities. He is portrayed as the most handsome of youths, the calmest and wisest of minds to have descended on ihloka (our actual realm of existence), and the most divine of all flutists. The stance that He has adopted in this murti is how His devotees love to picture Him - He is the tribhanga murari, the flutist (murari) whose form is punctuated (bhang) in three (tri) places namely the shoulder, the hip, and the ankle. The features of His countenance have been painstakingly engraved to convey a composure of divine calm and wisdom.

Sculpted from brass, which is a popular medium for art of a devotional-spiritual nature, this Krishna murti comes in two select finish variations, each of which has been curated for our collection because of its elegance. The natural brass variation has been tastefully polished to project a series of shadows at strategic points on the Lord's physique, while the bronze-like cocoa finish is an intense brown colour that draws the onlooker into a meditative trance. With the usual silks and shringar of Indian iconography intact, the tassel on His lotus petal-rimmed and trishool-engraved crown draws it downwards on one side. A multi-tiered pedestal, a tier of which is composed of an inverted and superbly lifelike lotus, supports the race of the Lord.

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