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Sculptures > Brass > Goddess > Parvati > Parvati, The Image of Absolute of Womanhood
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Parvati, The Image of Absolute of Womanhood

Parvati, The Image of Absolute of Womanhood

Parvati, The Image of Absolute of Womanhood

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Brass Statue

22.2 inch X 8 inch X 6.2 inch
8.2 kg
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Parvati, The Image of Absolute of Womanhood
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Viewed 5432 times since 10th Jun, 2017

This female figure with absolute contentment enshrining her entire
being, cast in brass, a tougher alloy but here in this statue
yielding gold ornament like fine details – precise, uniform and highly
sophisticated, represents Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva and his

Tradition perceives Parvati as Sati, the consort of Shiva, in her new
birth. She was born to Maina by Himalaya, the king of mountains. Sati
was the daughter of Daksha Prajapati, a god that presided over yajnas,
variously seen as Aditi’s son by sage Kashyapa, as also, Aditi herself
being born of him, and thus his daughter. Being insulted by her father
Sati immolates her in the fire of her father’s yajna. Deeply aggrieved
by her death Shiva, with Sati’s corpse on his shoulder, retires to
forest and keeps wandering for long one thousand years. Finally, after
Shiva’s plight gets unbearable, Sati returns to life in her
re-incarnation as Parvati. Initially, Parvati is dark complexioned but
on the advice of Brahmadeva she performs penance at Amarakeshvara and
after the holy dip in sacred water there and worship of Shiva-ling she
gets the colour of her skin changed to white giving her her new name
‘Gauri’. Sage Narada inspires Parvati to marry Shiva but Shiva does
not concede. Finally, Parvati, on sage Narada’s advice performs the
most rigorous ‘Panchagni-tapas’ – penance in the midst of five fires
and wins Shiva’s heart. On the advice of sage Narada Himalaya concedes
to wed Parvati to Shiva.

Though manifestations of the same divinity, while Durga inspires
formalism mandating the mind for calling her ‘goddess’ far from
inspiring a formal sentiment of votive nature the very name Parvati
inspires in mind motherly reverence, a personal feeling that a votive
image does not generate. Broadly Durga, Uma, Kali … are the
manifestations of Parvati; however, in popular perception while Durga
represents her evil-eliminating aspect, Uma, erotic, Kali, awful or
fierce, Parvati represents a being in a domestic frame : a mother, a
consort, an humble housekeeper doing petty things. Hence, as in this
statue, and as is often portrayed in Pahari miniatures, Parvati is as
a rule a personalized image with normal anatomy devoid of courtly
grandeur and magnificence and it is only the womanly grace and the
ultimate motherhood that characterize her imagery. In absolute
adherence to such perception of Parvati imagery this most puritan form
of the large breasted goddess full of milk represents her as the
ultimate model of womanhood abounding in luminous beauty, even
sensuous, as also of the life-giving and life-sustaining mother. The
artist has added a formal element in the form of small halo but in the
totality of her iconographic composition it looks like a mere disc
comprising the back of her hair ornament, not defining her aura.

Typical to the Indian iconographic tradition that perceives in her
motherhood her essential being, this normal two-armed image of the
goddess conceived with one hand held in ‘abhay’ blends with her
‘mother’ form the sublime beauty of the timeless maid. The tradition
perceives stately grandeur and resplendence as the attributes of the
four-armed formal image of Sri or Lakshmi. Vigorous and youthful, this
figure of Parvati has been cast as the model of the sensuously
inclining paramount beauty. The artist seems to have inherited this
form of Parvati from early literary texts, the main among them being
the Kumarasambhava by the great Sanskrit poet Kalidasa that attributes
her timeless beauty and youthfulness to her motherly bearing, her
power to feed with milk that she contains in her pot-like large
breasts – a reflection of the Atharva-Veda that under similar analogy
perceives Saraswati’s all creative faculties in her large breasted
form. A gorgeously conceived ‘stana-pata’ – breast-band, a pair of
mounds with prominent finials crowning over, lays further emphasis on
such aspect of the modeling of her figure. An upright image – a bit
taller, it has been conceived with absolute parameters of female
anatomy : slender figure, narrow waist, voluminous hips, prominent
breasts, well defined neck, fine fingers, round face, well-fed cheeks
…, as evolved over centuries of medieval iconographic convention. The
statue has been installed on a multi-tiered pedestal – a rectangular
hexagon adding to its height perspective. She is clad in a gorgeous
‘antariya’ and is splendidly bejewelled.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.
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