Mehandi of the Bride
The whereabouts of women and the goings-on of their hearts, constitute an entire world within the apparent worlds of human existence. This painting by Kailash Raj, done with luxuriant oils on canvas, brings out the aspects of this women's world with great keenness and beauty.
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Oil Painting on Canvas42 inch x 35 inch
Artist: Kailash Raj
Mehandi is not just a decorative element in the bridal toilette; it is as much a spiritual libation. Poured into intricate designs on the skin through the medium of a peacock feather - one of the Orient's strange yet deeply symbolic rituals - it is said that the intensity of the hue obtained after having washed off the applied coat is indicative of the husband's loyalty to her. Kailash Raj captures to perfection the flurry of emotions typical of a bride's state of mind: the raised brow, the pursed lips give away her curiosity, what with the bridal mehendi being the precursor to her fortunes.
She is in the kind of reclinement that women in this part of the world allow themselves either in their own company or strictly in the presence of their handmaids. Her thighs are delicately parted, just enough for the fluid silk of her ghaagraa (Indian skirts) to plunge in between against her skin. Her sheer dupatta, having slid off her rubescent bosom, has gathered in such sheer lifelike folds on one arm that one could almost hear the rustle. Her tattooed hands are dangling mid-air as she eagerly waits for them to dry and be ready for rinsing, her elbows propped up on a couple of cushions to facilitate the arduous mehendi procedure.
Her tattooed feet rest daintily on the distinctly North Indian carpet that clothes the floors of the bridal chamber. The dense and richly coloured embroidery sets off to perfection the mehendi florals on her feet, one of which is yet undone. She has removed her gold anklets and kept them on the table next to her green velvet couch, which she will put back on as soon as her feet are rinsed and dried in a few hours. The rest of her jewels are elegant and decidedly bridal - bangles aplenty, signature danglers, matching maangteekaa, and profuse necklaces, all fashioned from the purest golds and pearls of the land. They complement her resplendent red-and-gold bridal ghaagraa (reds and golds being the signature hues of the North Indian bridal trosseau). The modest pastel ensemble and the simple silver jewels of her handmaiden are in sharp but fitting contrast to her regal toilette.
The naturalism of the painting is such that it affords a thorough view of the outdoors. Yet a few hours to the roseate twilight of the Eastern world, the clouds are at their most playful, the lush fields at their greenest. The floors are painted with such perspective as to reflect with great perfection the regal installations atop the same - for example, the characteristically carved opening that leads to the sprawling, checquered balcony. The greens and the purples and the velvets of the interiors, not to mention the luscious brushstrokes the painting is finished with, complete the regality of the setting.