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Paintings > Hindu > Shiva > The Holy Family
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The Holy Family

The Holy Family

The Holy Family

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Watercolor on Paper

7.0 inches X 10.4 inches
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Viewed 14252 times since 23rd Mar, 2010
This brilliant piece of art, a miniature rendered in Basohli/Mankot idiom of Pahari art style as it prevailed around the later half of the eighteenth century, portrays against a plain but highly effectively mauve background the family of Lord Shiva, known as the Holy Family. The Holy family is seated on a full blown lotus laid over a gems-studded hexagonal chowki. The lotus with its light pinkish hue provides to the figures of Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh and Karttikeya effective contrast. The four-armed Shiva, seated towards the right, has in his lap the four-armed Ganesh, their younger son, while Parvati, his consort, seated on his left, has in her lap six faced and four armed Karttikeya, their elder son. Lord Ganesh is carrying in his four hands goad, rosary, lotus and a tray of ‘laddus’ – the sugar-balls. The jealous ones, often known to quarrel, Ganesh and Karttikeya occupy prestigious positions of equal importance, one in the father’s lap and arms, while the other, in those of the mother.

In Shiva, Parvati and their two sons the Indian mind has always perceived not merely the supreme and the holiest but also the most ideal model of family life. Unlike Vishnu and Lakshmi who abound in great regalia Shiva family is closer to average Indian and with their children it presents a more accomplished model of family life than do other gods of Trinity or any. For portraying an absolute model of family Lord Shiva has been portrayed without his usual attributes which have no role in family life. Lest she incited discordance the artist has avoided portraying Ganga in his ‘jata-juta’ – coiffure. Most paintings of the Holy family include depictions of the family’s ‘vahanas’ – vehicles, Shiva’s Nandi, the bull, Parvati’s lion, Karttikeya’s peacock and Ganesh’s mouse, though strangely the artist has not portrayed them here. Maybe, he avoided to crowd the canvas which with its grayish mauve plain formless background provides to the Holy family a dazzling contrast and puts it in greater focus. With large eyes, prominent features and round faces the iconography of Shiva and Parvati has exceptional thrust and effectiveness.

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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