The painting portrays the five-faced Lord Shiva his form as Sadashiva, descending from Mount Kailash, represented symbolically by a distant lake, obviously the lake Manasarovara, and a snow-white mansion with caves-like entrances. Lord Shiva is mounted on his bull Nandi. On Shiva's right is his consort Parvati on her lion; ahead of Parvati is their elder son, the five-faced Karttikeya riding his peacock; and, on Parvati's right is the elephant-headed Ganesh on his mouse. Every one of Shiva, Parvati, Karttikeya and Ganesh, or even their mounts, seems to have a different kind of emotional disposition which reflects on their faces, or which shapes their facial demeanour, and the painting is outstanding in revealing it. It depicts with the same fervour the child-like enthusiasm on the face of Ganesh and in the demeanour of his mount mouse, with which it reveals the commander-like gravity on Karttiyeya's face and the confidence in the posture of his mount peacock. Walking in between her spouse and sons, in Parvati's facial demeanour and gesture of hands reveals her concern for both. And, accordingly, she is carrying in her left hand a cup containing 'bhang' Shiva's favourite drink, and in the right, a tray of 'laddus' ball-like shaped sweet, for which Ganesh had exceptional passion. In Shiva's drowsy eyes reflects partly his contemplative disposition and partly the intoxicating effect of 'bhang'. He is perhaps turning beads with his right hand inside his bag. The corresponding sentiment revealing in the behaviour of each of the pets, representing live nature, and the glow reflecting in the tree, shrubs and the entire background the non-living nature, suggests that the Holy family Shiva, the Purusha, primordial man, Parvati, the energy incarnate, Ganesh, the ultimate good and auspice, and Karttikeya, the ultimate valour and commanding force, pervades the Creation in its entirety.
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.
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