As reveal her superior ensemble, ornaments, overall beauty, especially her gold-like glistening body colour, modesty and grace, besides her foremost position as reveals in her act of performing ‘arti’ and others just holding the trays with offerings, perhaps for her, the lady in the centre has obvious royal links, either a princess or one from higher hierarchy. In her left hand she is holding a bell with a large handle that she is ringing, an essential feature of the ‘arti’ ritual’, and in the right, a ritual lamp with a handle that she is moving in circle before the deity symbolic of circumambulating the idol. A basket of ‘laddus’, and another containing fruits : ripe mangos, bananas and a pieced coconut, besides a lamp, stand with incense sticks and the ‘purna-ghata’, auspicious pot symbolic of accomplishment, offered to the deity before the ‘arti’ is begun, already lay before the idol.
The image of Lord Ganapati has been installed on a chowki with moderate height. The deity has under his feet a carpeted foot-raise, a smaller chowki. Very powerful as it is, the artist has rendered the image of Lord Ganesha on classical lines blending elements of at least three of his thirty-two classical forms that Puranas have enumerated and perceived, Taruna Ganapati, Kshipra Ganapati and Vijay Ganapati. All three forms are red-hued, though while Taruna Ganapati is an eight-armed form, other two are four-armed. As in the painting, Taruna and Kshipra Ganapati have been conceived as seated in ‘lalitasana’ or a mode revealing beauty of form and spontaneity; Vijay Ganapati is also seated alike casually but on his mount mouse, not on a seat as in the painting.
Though sanctum images of Ganesha and Hanuman are as a rule vermillion-smeared and hence red, the artist seems to have chosen the form for its classical links. In three of his four hands Lord Ganesha is carrying battle-axe, lotus and tray of ‘laddus’, while the fourth is held in ‘abhaya’. The ‘pitambara’ – yellow ‘antariya’ – lower wear that Lord Ganesha is wearing creates amazing contrast against the vermilion red of his body. He has around his face a golden halo which with its sun rays-like spikes symbolizes burst of light and energy. His figure has been splendidly adorned with emeralds, rubies, pearls, diamonds and other precious stones and gold ornaments.
All five ladies have been modeled with an alike anatomy and iconography. They all have moderately tall slender figures and fair complexions, though the lady in the centre is taller as also fairer than others. They all have fine fingers and sharp features : angular faces with sharp pointed nose, moderately sized thoughtful eyes, broad foreheads, long black hair, well defined chins and necks although in such similarity the distinction of the lady in the centre is well perceived. They all are simply clad and ornamented but while the ensemble of the noble lady : her deep purple lehenga – long flared skirt, yellow sash and light green blouse are gold-worked those of others are simple colour-printed revealing Rajasthani flavour. This difference reveals also in the class of the textile-lengths these are made from, the noble lady’s being silk while those of others, simple cotton.
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.