In the land of artisan-devotees, paintings and sculptures of Shiva-parivar (family of Lord Shiva) abound. The Lord is usually portrayed with His wife Parvati Mata next to Him, flanked by their sons Lord Skanda and Lord Ganesha. The oil you see on this page is replete with all four deities, but there is something about it that conveys more than the divine familial harmony characteristic of other Shiva-parivar compositions. From the setting, it is clear that the family is midway through a journey they are undertaking on foot. The Kailasha Mansoravar is far in the background, its gorgeous coat of snow exuding undertones of gold from the setting sun. It is preceded by lower mountains with a naked, rugged brown terrain. In the foreground, our sacred family is sharing a solemn moment - the kids seem to be throwing a tantrum, a tendency common to children of all three lokas.
Both Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati are looking on at the children. Baal-Skanda is reaching with His baby hands into the Lord's jhola, whose hands are busy managing the trishool (trident) and the other kid, while chaturbhujadhari baal-Ganesha has stretched out towards His brother an open palm. There is no wrath on the faces of their parents - in fact, their expressions are disapproving but gentle and corrective. The artist's focus has been on the emotional undercurrent of the situation, as opposed to the divinity/iconography of any of the deities. By way of the same, this painting features Lord Shiva's loincloth and rudraksh shringar as well as thick black jatae (tresses) that reach down to His knees, while His wife wears an unassuming crown and a halo that would put the tropical sun to shame.