The four-armed goddess is Tripura-Sundari, a transformation of Durga in her tender aspect. She combines in her Kali's determination and beauty of Durga's figure, her complexion, charm and grace. Tripura-Sundari represents rajas and tamas aspects of cosmic existence. Endowed with exceptional beauty she fascinates Shiva and commands all other gods' obeisance. Absence of Shiva is hence understandable for neither he could share with her, her seat, nor stand in devotion with others. Puranas have evaded alluding to Tripura-Sundari except rarely. She has been sometimes equated to Trailokyamohini, one who had bewitching beauty with which she could delude all three worlds. A local tradition claims her to be the presiding beauty of Tripura - demons' three cities, which Shiva destroyed and won along with, Tripura-Sundari. Later, seeing Shiva's fascination for Tripura-Sundari, Durga and Kali infused into her being their parts and sanctified her. Thus, not Shiva's spouse, consisted with parts of Durga and Kali, her association with him was consecrated and all worshiped her.
The goddess is seated on a hexagonal chowki, the legs of which six pairs of tigers comprise. Over the chowki is laid a lotus cushion and behind the goddess, a huge bolster. Her seat has been consecrated inside a golden shrine, which seems to form the front elevation of a royal palace, perhaps the patron's, or artist's own vision, as he was used to see the divine image only enshrining a gorgeous pavilion like this, not otherwise. Shrine's back has been wrought with Islamic motifs and its grey is also unusual. Over the goddess is a precious gems-studded golden umbrella. Unlike early miniatures, this painting has depth perspective creating dimensional effect.
The goddess has in one of her hands a lotus, in the other, a conch - both attributes of Vishnu, and other two are held in abhaya and varada. Above her forehead she bears crescent and in the foreground is poised the lion, her vehicle - both attributes of Shaivite line. Her seating posture reveals exceptional beauty. A gold brocaded patta, decorative strip, dyed in magenta, elevates the front of her sari, which is in contrasting orange. As elegantly has been conceived her upper costume, pink odhani - sash, and light green blouse, both adorned with gold zari - band woven with gold wire. Besides traditional ornaments she has on her wrists a wide range of colourful bangles. Her multi-pointed crown has been studded with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphire, pearls and other precious stones. On her right stand in obeisance four-armed Vishnu as Vasudeva Krishna and Brahma, and Agni, Yama and Vayu with normal two hands. Both, Vishnu and Brahma have two of their four hands folded in devotion, whereas Vishnu has in other two his routine attributes, a conch and mace, and Brahma, in one, a book, and the fourth is left suspending below. Rest of them, Agni, Yama and Vayu stand with folded hands. On her left stand the main priest in pink dhoti - unstitched length of textile, and her human devotees, one wearing a lower garment of leaves all with folded hands. Though matted, hair of the each one is differently styled. One of the devotees, in dhoti, is prostrating in front of the shrine.
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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