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Paintings > South Indian > Gods, Goddesses and Holy Beings: Saints and Minor Divinies
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Gods, Goddesses and Holy Beings: Saints and Minor Divinies

Gods, Goddesses and Holy Beings: Saints and Minor Divinies

Gods, Goddesses and Holy Beings: Saints and Minor Divinies

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Mysore Painting with 24 Karat Gold
Artist: Chandrika

28.5 inch X 22.5 inch
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Gods, Goddesses and Holy Beings: Saints and Minor Divinies

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This painting, a characteristic example of eighteenth-nineteenth century Mysore art-idiom, unaffected by the cult of modern art, the great revolution of the late 19th century of which Mysore under Raja Ravi Varma was one of its pioneer seats, pursuing in its exactness the same style of images, their costume-forms, ornaments, body-gestures, overall palette, especially the deep red for background and green and blue in stark contrast used typically for body-colours, green used for delineating the figures of the great bird Garuda and monkey god Hanuman, and blue, for Kalabhairava and Hayagriva, and for costumes of most figures, as in the early Mysore art tradition, still live and practised, represents on a single sheet of paper as many as eighty-nine divinities, gods, goddesses and minor deities assorted from various mythical and religious traditions, those of the South in particular, and saints and devotees of different Orders paying them homage.

Light pink, shaded and outlined with red, is almost the uniform body-colour of the represented figures, and green, blue, white shaded with blue, and magenta, except in case of sages wearing black-spotted yellow tiger-skins, are the usual colour of their costumes, which is the chosen palette of classical Mysore painting. Figures’ anatomy with short height, round faces, large open eyes, well-defined chins, over-size crowns, and in the style of figures, each as if ejecting against its background, all are the features that attribute to the painting its stylistic distinction and class it with rare masterpieces of the classical Mysore painting. Typical of Mysore and Tanjore painting traditions, using a canvas either for a large size icon singly, or as compartmentalized for a massive number of them, each contained in an independent space, this painting has been divided into five variously designed horizontal registers, the two on the bottom being undivided straight-running horizontal galleries, narrower in breadths, while variously designed and sized windows define the three above. Each of the two top registers contains thirteen figures, while each of the three below, twenty-one.

The register on the top has been divided into seven artistically designed windows, the central one being the largest and most elaborately conceived, the two flanking it, narrower, those flanking these two, lager than these, and those on extreme right and left, slightly smaller than them. Alcoves with circular apexes enshrining subordinate deities define the bottom parts of all intercepting pillars. A five-faced and eleven-armed form of Virat Vishvarupa Gayatri Devi, seated on a golden throne in ‘lalitasana’, enshrines the central window. On the extreme right is the ten animals-faced Ajayamukha Narsimha tearing the body of demon Hiranyakashipu, and on the extreme left, the lion-riding Shanmukha, another name of Karttikeya, Shiva’s elder son and the Commander of gods’ army. On the left of Narsimha in the alcove is the moon god Chandra, and in the window, Papurdraha, a form of Rudra Shiva. On the left of Vishvarupa Gayatri there are in three alcoves Gayatri Shakti, Vippurusha and the sun god Surya, and in windows, Vayu Dev and Jalandhara Rajeshwari.

A five-faced and ten-armed form of goddess Gayatri enshrines the central window in the register second from the top, and a five-faced form of Brahma with Manu, that in the third. The spinning wheel in between is symbolic of the social texture that on Brahma’s instance Manu wove. On the left of the goddess Gayatri there are Saraswati, Padma-veena, her another form, the goose-riding Bravara, the five-faced ten-armed Vipreshvari, the swan-riding Nakshavayu and Vaishi; and on the right, Savitri, a ten-faced goddess Nampatala, Vira Lakshmi, Varahi, Indrani and Durga. In the third register, from the top, the main divinities among those on Manu-Brahma’s right are Indra, Agni, Yama, Nairuptya and Kuber, and on the left, Shivakramurti, Navavasamurti, Vayudev, Sripadamurti, Ekapadamurti and Brahmamurti. The central figures in the register, fourth from the top, are Ganapati, Vrahchikamurti, Mratyunjayamurti and Vasuki. On their right are Shanmukha, Kalabhairava, Chandrashekhara and Munis, and on their left, all royal sages. A form of four-armed Vishnu enshrines the centre in the bottom register. Main among those on his right are Ravanasura, kings, his mount the great bird Garuda, Munis and warriors, and on his left, Vanasura, Vibhishana, Anjaneya, another name for Hanuman, Prahlad, Buddha, Narada, Hayagriva and others.

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.

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