that is, the goddess is seated on lotus seat. She has four hands. She holds in her hands 'japamala', two lotuses and a manuscript.
This representation of Kamalasana Saraswati largely deviates from above. She is seated on a lotus and has four arms.She carries in two of them the 'japamala' and a manuscript but in other two holds instead a 'vina' which she is playing. In her various iconographic specifications, as laid down in different Puranas, goddess Saraswati has been attributed different vehicles to be seated on. They range from peacock, swan, ram and lion to lotus. Most Puranas ordain that Saraswati should have an icnography which corresponded to that of Brahma. This is obviously due to her association with Brahma, either as his daughter or spouse.
Lotus is an essential element of the iconography of Brahma and thus that of Saraswati. She has been hence largely conceived as carrying lotuses in two of her four arms. This also is the reason for assigning to her a lotus seat. In this image of Saraswati the artist opted for her a lotus seat but avoided lotuses in her hands. For imparting to the image an element of realism he conceived his Saraswati as playing upon 'vina', instead of just formally carrying it. In the colour of her complexion too the artist has deviated from scriptural tradition. Most Puranas have conceived her complexion as white, a few as black and a few others as blue, but the artist has chosen for his goddess a light tint of vermilion. This is a folk element as most of the votive images of folk deities are smeared with vermilion paste as a ritual. Jains have sixteen forms of Saraswati. One of them has been attributed vermilion complexion.
This statue of the goddess of learning, art and drama, is an excellent piece of South Indian wood-art. This artefact has been carved out of a single piece of Vangai wood of the Kalakorchi region of Tamilnadu. Saraswati, the goddess of timeless youth and unmatched beauty, has been conceived here more as a youthful maid playing on her vina rather than a deity. Her eyes aptly depict her absorption in the celestial music emitting from her instrument. The vigour of her perpetual youth bursts out from the glow of her face and rising breasts. She could hold her vina close to her only when one of the two breasts has been partially compressed. Save what of it her rich but elegant jewels conceal the figure of the goddess above her waist has been left unclad. She wears a large towering crown and has behind her head a celestial halo. The style of carving is South Indian but not without a blend of Oriya cult especially in its features. The fire-arch, or the 'Prabhavali' topped by a Shri-mukha is characteristic of both South India and Orissa and imparts to it exceptional beauty. The arch takes off from one side of the image, rises above it and terminates on its other side. The entire arch has been embellished with lotuses and beads.
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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