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Paintings > Hindu > Lord Shiva and Parvati on Mount Kailash
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 Lord Shiva and Parvati on Mount Kailash

Lord Shiva and Parvati on Mount Kailash

Lord Shiva and Parvati on Mount Kailash

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Watercolor on Paper
Artist: Irshad

7.0" X 9.8"
Item Code:
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 Lord Shiva and Parvati on Mount Kailash

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Viewed 7464 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
This magnificent miniature, a bold experiment as regards the choice of colours, particularly monochromatic deep red in background to provide the contrast to green of the earth and black of the lake, portrays Shiva and Parvati with Shiva's bull on Mount Kailash. The mythical Nandi, Shiva's bull, is always conceived with a majestic look, robust build and elderly bearing. There always enshrines on Nandi's face quiescence and contentment, which as the incarnation of 'Dharma' – righteousness, is its basic character. The artist has substituted here the majestic Nandi with this young bull with a feminine look, more like Krishna's cow. Instead of Nandi's stoicism, it seems to yearn, as does a cow for its calf. The artist's innovative mind did not prefer, perhaps, the stoical presence of an elderly Nandi when everything around is so romantic, and timeless lovers, Shiva and Parvati, are all alone in their cavern.

Shiva and Parvati are quite young but in their case youth does not determine their age, as both are unborn timeless youth who were neither ever born nor would ever decay or die. However, the absence of their sons, Karttikeya and Ganesh, suggests that the painting depicts a phase of his life soon after his marriage with Parvati, a phase when he had married Parvati and was convinced that she was Sati in her new birth, but despite that, he was unable to forget Sati. In her later phase, he was so much enamoured with Parvati that he always sought opportunity to have love with her. Hence, the theme of the painting, representing Shiva as indolently lost in thought, and worried Parvati constantly gazing at him, could not be an event from the later part of his life. Parvati has laid before him some sweet on a 'pattal' – tree-leaf-plate, but Shiva does not even look at it. May be, the bull is yelling giving expression to its disapproval of its master's indifference towards Parvati.

In figures' iconography and over-all anatomy, the artist has followed the Pahari art idiom as it prevailed during eighteenth century around Basohli, Nurpur and Mankot. The early Basohli artists widely used a monochromatic background, though intercepted by isolated trees and some kind of architecture, usually a pavilion where the represented theme is enacted. But, in this paining, the theme did not have scope for a building structure, or for large trees, as on such heights as that of the Mount Kailash, hardly the low shrubs and bushes grow, not trees; and, Shiva's abode has never been conceived as a built up house. Hence, the artist, while pursuing Basohli idiom of monochromatic background, left out tall trees and architectural structure. Besides, he has used bright red instead of dull tones of yellow, green or ochre, which the Basohli artists widely used. In his use of bright colours in deeper tones he is closer to Rajasthani art.

Weight and volume, which define the figures of Shiva and Parvati, are characteristic features of Mankot and Basohli figures. They have similar large eyes with relatively smaller pupils, as have males and females in Basohli miniatures. The most delightful part of the painting is the rocks-type, which symbolise the Mount Kailash. These rocks resemble sometimes a tiger's nails, and sometimes fuming ocean and foggy clouds. Lotuses, leaves and buds, with a size taller than that of shrubs, are quite imposing. Shiva has his trident, drum, snake, garland of 'Rudraksha'-seeds, river Ganga in coiffeur, and tiger-skin under them. The lake Mansarovara has been extended on both sides of the Mount Kailash.

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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