This excellent brass cast, though the representation of just the bust, represents not merely Shiva’s likeness but also elaborately and with absolute distinction one of his many manifestations and the entire drama related to this form : river Ganga’s vanity and arrogance, and Lord Shiva’s repulsive disapproval of it. The statue makes use of the tiny idol that Lord Shiva carries on his head for revealing Ganga’s mind, her vanity and arrogance; Shiva’s disapproval reflects in the bearing of his agitated face. Though a mere bust, the artifact represents Shiva as Gangadhara – one who holds Ganga, the river goddess, on his head, perhaps the head-part being of greater significance the artist preferred a bust form for representing his image of Lord Shiva.
The chest part in a bust hardly reveals any
aspect of the represented person; the artist, hence, did not conceive
his bust image with much of the chest part, and whatever included has
been covered with a huge serpent coiling around. In Shaivite tradition
serpent symbolises endless life. Thus, rising over the coils of the
serpent Shiva stands for endless tenure.
Unlike most sculptures of Shiva, conceived with a stream of water
releasing from his coiffure, symbolic of river Ganga, a formal
iconographic motif of his image, this brass head represents him with a
tiny but fully accomplished anthropomorphic female figure,
anatomically complete as also revealing a definite frame of mind. A
form of Shiva with a prominent manifestation of Ganga, a stream or an
anthropomorphic form, is known in the Shaivite tradition as
Gangadhara. No other aspect of the image has been so much emphasized
as the Ganga icon determining the image’s identity as Gangadhara
Shiva. The myth as to how Ganga reached Shiva’s coiffure is quite
elaborate narrated in many texts with rare uniformity. As appears from
her icon in the brass-piece, and almost all texts uniformly contend,
the arrogant and flirtatious Ganga always agitated Shiva’s mind by her
conceit and vanity, though bound by his grant to Bhagiratha he carried
her on his head.
As various versions of the myth have it, Ganga was one of the three
consorts of Mahavishnu, other being Saraswati and Lakshmi. One day
Saraswati noticed Ganga flirting with Mahavishnu and in the quarrel
that followed cursed each other to transform into rivers and descend
on the earth. On the earth the Ikshvaku king Sagar, blessed with sixty
thousand mighty sons, on their strength decided to hold Ashvamedha
yajna. The horse of the yajna was let under the protection of his
sons. Suddenly around the vicinity of the hermitage of sage Kapila the
horse disappeared. Mighty but as much arrogant and impertinent sons of
Sagar charged sage Kapila of stealing the horse. This annoyed the sage
and except five for sustaining the line he burnt all by his spiritual
powers. When entreated the sage modified the curse to the effect that
they shall be absolved when the waters of Ganga after she emerged on
the earth as river was sprinkled over their ashes.
Sagar’s successors, to include the illustrious king Dilip, performed
rigorous penance for Ganga’s emergence on the earth but with no
result. Finally, king Bhagiratha succeeded in pleasing and persuading
her for her descent. Ganga, who had a secret passion for Shiva,
thought of exploiting the occasion for reaching close to Shiva. She
frightened Bhagiratha that the earth was not as strong as could hold
her mighty current and would be washed away by it. She revealed that
it was Shiva alone who could hold her current in his coiffure. She
advised Bhagiratha for pleasing Shiva to agree for it. After
Bhagiratha’s rigorous penance Shiva granted his prayer and when Ganga
ascended he held her in his coiffure. The drama did not end here.
Ganga had designs to abduct Shiva sweeping him with her. Shiva read
her mind and to punish her arrested her in his coiffure and it was
only after Bhagiratha performed another round of penance that on his
prayer he released her. Parvati, Shiva’s consort, always knew Ganga’s
intension and checked her from coming close to Shiva. Her success and
Parvati’s defeat bred in Ganga vanity, and mounting Shiva’s head even
against his will, arrogance. This powerfully reveals in her tiny icon.
On the other hand, Shiva’s tense upwards raised face with straightened
neck revealing neck-bones and wide open thoughtful eyes portray his
disapproval of her designs. The artifact has been cast with utmost
care, great perfection and with sensitive hands.
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.
How to keep a Brass statue well-maintained?
Brass statues are known and appreciated for their exquisite beauty and luster. The brilliant bright gold appearance of Brass makes it appropriate for casting aesthetic statues and sculptures. Brass is a metal alloy composed mainly of copper and zinc. This chemical composition makes brass a highly durable and corrosion-resistant material. Due to these properties, Brass statues and sculptures can be kept both indoors as well as outdoors. They also last for many decades without losing all their natural shine.
Brass statues can withstand even harsh weather conditions very well due to their corrosion-resistance properties. However, maintaining the luster and natural beauty of brass statues is essential if you want to prolong their life and appearance.
In case you have a colored brass statue, you may apply mustard oil using a soft brush or clean cloth on the brass portion while for the colored portion of the statue, you may use coconut oil with a cotton cloth.
Brass idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses are especially known for their intricate and detailed work of art. Nepalese sculptures are famous for small brass idols portraying Buddhist deities. These sculptures are beautified with gold gilding and inlay of precious or semi-precious stones. Religious brass statues can be kept at home altars. You can keep a decorative brass statue in your garden or roof to embellish the area and fill it with divinity.
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