The Placid Devi Durga (Framed)When we think of Ma Durga, an image of the Devi Mahishasuramardini (slayeress of demon Asura) appears in the mind’s eye. That powerful stance; that piercing gaze. However, as the mahalaya will tell you, there is much more to Ma Durga. The painting you see on this page gives you a glimpse of Her serenity, which makes for a more conventional image of the Hindu devi. Minus the writhing Asura at Her feet, She is as relatable and Her presence as soothing as, say Devi Lakshmi or Devi Sarasvati.
She is a wheatish fair, as is the standard of beauty of the North. The painter has depicted Her ashtabhujadhari form; despite her all-important weapons being intact, She has laid them down for a bit. Instead, alta-tattooed hands of Her anterior arms are cradling a lotus and showering blessings. Her delicate bootidar red saree is cinched at the waist with a gold kamarband. A garland of fresh flowers completes Her resplendent shringar. Even Her simhavahana projects a kingly calm and reserve. Zoom in on its mane to appreciate the superb level of detail that has gone into the painting, its glory a fine match for the Devi’s ample black tresses (visible even around Her lower limbs). The gold crown that sits on Her brow, the blinding halo that frames Her face, are in keeping with the light emanating from those large lifelike eyes.
Flame Uppada Sari from Bangalore with Self-Weave and Peacocks on BorderWhile Uppada saris are distinguished from their Kanjivaram counterparts by the cotton warp, a lot of the region’s weavers (Uppada is in the East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh) have begun to fashion pure silk numbers. This makes for a sumptuous drape as well as a kind of statement in the world of traditional Indian fashionistas. The one you see on this page is one such, handpicked like all our sarees for the quality of its make and the finish of the drape.
The colour is a deep, viscose orange. Zooming in on the field of this solid-coloured saree would enable you to take in the beauty of the self-woven leaves against the silk. The same is hemmed in with a thick border of gold, onto which are woven rows of elephants and peacocks. The infusion of a dense Prussian blue on the endpiece, most of which is worked with gold, makes for a statement-making colour palette that would look great at a wedding or ritual ceremony.
Dancing Apsara With a Parrot
This statue of a woman in a dance posture is an interpretation of communication of her expressions and thoughts. The woman is enjoying herself on a classical rhythm. This posture represents the delicacy and the feminine aspect of her nature. The lady is standing on a wondrously engraved three layered pedestal. Left leg is slightly bent touching the base and right leg is held high in the air just like her desires, with the knee bent inwards. Her position of legs is showing off her flexibility and fluidity in complete ease. Her left hand is swinging at the side in its graceful pose and right hand is forming a 90 degree angle, holding a twig with a parrot sitting on it. It seems that the magnificent parrot is talking to her and making her smile. The lady is showing her sharp moves in response to the parrot.
The dancing woman has tied ghungroo in her legs and the sound coming from it is a flow of the ideas making their way in her mind. She is wearing a beautiful top, open from front, below her chest, showing her navel as a mark of her strength and dominance. She has put on a comfortable pyjama style lower with a flower shaped thick and long belt tied on her waist, its one end is flowing down from the right touching the base. The young lady is donning a small crown with an aureole like shape at the back enhancing her charm. The round bindi on her forehead is showcasing her womanly attitude. Her necklaces, kundals and bracelets are perfectly adorning her body with equal refinement. Her slender body with her delicate smile is highlighting her soft, nurturing and feminal quality.
Nile-Green Pure Pashmina Handloom Shawl from Kashmir with Sozni Embroidered Flowers and PaisleysA decidedly unconventional pashmina, this shawl deviates from the colours and motifs that are traditionally employed to finish the typical Kashmiri pashmina shawl. The fabric, the superlative of all Indian fabrics and not just wool, is dyed a tender tint of agate. The same is superimposed with miniature embroideries in pale azure and brown, depicting paisleys and some local foliage. The drape is lush; the warmth it affords, unrivalled. Layer this over a preferably complementary colour of Indian saree or suit, and count away the number of heads that turn your way.
Spellbound By Green TaraGreen Tara, Her skin the radiant hue of natural jade, is the most attainable of the Bodhisattvas. This owes to the captivating beauty of Her form, which makes the devotee simply want to visualise Her and Her alone without diluting their meditation by visualising, and merely scratching the surface with, other deities. She is born as a princess, of the tears shed by the compassionate Avalokiteshvara upon contemplating the suffering of earthly life. Her mantra, "Om tare tuttare ture svaha" is the point where all suffering comes to an end. The embodiment of transcendental compassion, which in itself is fathomless and ungraspable, She fills sadhakas with a sense of familiarity and approachability.
The beauty and tenderness of Her countenance are matched by Her lithe limbs and torso, carved skilfully out of coniferous wood that grows in abundance in Nepal. The sumptuous red of Her dhoti and meditation sash, and the resplendence of Her ample shringar from head to toe, are brought out by the riotous pastels that colour the dual-layer lotus pedestal. The lalitasana is typical of Bodhisattvas steeped in meditation - note how a fresh lotus has sprouted where the right feet lowers and rests itself. Her right hand is in dhyana mudra, while the left is in the characteristic gesture reminiscent of the Three Jewels. From amidst the circle made by Her thumb and forefinger emerges a gracious blue lotus with a centre of golden light. A similar lotus to the right of Green Tara adds balance to the composition.
More stunning than those freshly bloomed lotuses is Green Tara's handsomely sculpted face. Framed by large pink ears - they say large ears are a sign of wisdom - adorned with glimmering floral kundalas, a magnificent crown with gold undertones sits on Her brow. Together with the matching bejewelled necklace, it constitutes the most striking part of this one-of-a-kind Green Tara sculpture. The Buddhists believe that whatever one sets one's heart upon, that one becomes. By visualising and meditating on Green Tara, one inches closer to compassion and eases into wisdom.
Sarvatobhadra ChakraThe concept of the yantra is endemic to Indian philosophy. It is an ‘aid’ to the mind, a window into the macrocosm. The geometric visualisation afforded by the yantra rids the mind of turmoil, enabling to meditate in the true essence of the term. The sarvatobhadra chakra, a unique kind of yantra, aids in Vedic astrological predictions based on the nakshatra methods.
Cream Cashmere Kaftan from Kashmir with Ari Embroidered PaisleyThe long, woollen kaftan is the signature garment of the mountain people. Worn in abundance in Kashmir, its functionality lies in the fact that it could be layered over multiple layers of warm clothing that are a prerequisite for life in the valley. This carefully chosen number is everything a fashionable kaftan should be. Its primary appeal lies in the ivory coloured foundation, which makes for a statement that is classic, versatile, and of course feminine.
It is a translucent dress that one may layer over a mere slip and head to an evening rendezvous with a traditional spin, perhaps a party or a dinner gathering with family. Down the centre is a patch of gorgeous ari-embroidery - paisleys and vines worked with gold-coloured thread into the base fabric. The needlework is atypical of Kashmir, a highly expressive element of Indian fashion. Matching ariwork is to be found on the neckline, giving it the illusion of plunging into the decolletage.
Shiva-Parivar With LingamWhile Lord Shiva is a recurrent subject of choice with Indian artists and sculptors, His role as the divine householder would make for an unusual pick for your space. The beauty of Shiva-parivar is to be found in this work of spiritual art, where He is sculpted right next to Mother Parvati. The little Lord Ganesha is seated on their lap. The cosmic father-and-son duo have raised their hands in blessing over their ihlokiya devotees.
Parvati Mata is wearing a sumptuous saree fit for the devis. As if woven from gracious gold metal, the same has been sculpted with such precision as to reveal the contours of the maternal form underneath. Seated in lalitasana as is Her husband, Her stance is one of wifely devotion and reverence towards Him. The gold of Her saree and shringar matches His loincloth and the snakes that constitute His shringar.
A sacred lingam is at the feet of the Lord. A golden Shaivite tilak has been etched on to its smooth, dome-like surface. A similar tilak is on the head of the son of Shiva, Lord Ganesha, who is at His most adorable in this sculpture, cradled in the lap of His parents. The artist’s attention to detail sets this work apart from other Shiva-parivar statues - the paduka of the other foot on the pedestal, a hand of His at His wife’s shoulder, and the towering jaatamukuta of Hers that matches His.
Matsya-Chitta MandalaIn only folk art could a subject so simplistic be treated with such complex style. This one-of-a-kind Madhubani is a superb example of Indian regional art. It is a plethora of fish, each with a minimalistic silhouette, swimming in concentric circles filled in with solid pastel colours. In fact, the black lines that define the body of the fish and the colour palette against which they are made are signature Madhubani aspects.
The home of Madhubani painting is in Mithila in Bihar. It originated in the hands of rural women looking to adorn the walls of their dwellings. The authenticity of the one you see on this page lies in its earthy appeal and, more importantly, in the canvas on which the work is done. It is handmade paper that has been specially treated with cow-dung for a texture that serves to bring out the thick lines and the bright colours.
The mandala motif is quintessential to Indian art. It stands for the universe of the purusha (soul), wherein each of the concentric circles represents the layers of the chitta (psyche). The convention is that the subject lies at the very centre of these layers, so this Madhubani depicts the mandala of the rudimentary matsya-chitta. For those of us with a weakness for natural water-bodies and the innocent creatures dwelling therein, this would make for a great piece of art to own.