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|Time required to recreate this artwork:||20 to 24 weeks|
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As such, a huge body of canonical literature with emphasis on one aspect or other emerged and classified woman as Nayika – heroines, the term used for ladies in love and with social distinctions, the theme of Indian classical literature since at least 500-400 B.C., under various types assessing the level of each one’s virtue and beauty and her love-life. This canonical literature saw in a woman’s loyalty her highest virtue and the relevance of her beauty and of adorning it. It is this model of beauty : the beauty coupled with virtue, that the wood-statue, as also its Khajuraho proto-type, represents. Identical representations of young ‘Nayikas’, though not with the same beauty of form, perfect modeling, plasticity and fluid anatomy as reveals Khajuraho Nayika, were rendered in abundance on many temple-walls to include Konark temple in Orissa and Bhoramadeva temple in Chhattisgarh illustrating Indian perception of a woman’s beauty.
A simple theme, the young lady of this wood statue is applying vermilion on her hair-parting while looking into a mirror as part of her make-up; the portrayal has, however, further dimensional breadth. It portrays the damsel’s beauty as also the lady endeavouring to enhance it but essentially subordinating it to virtue revealing in her loyalty. The young lady’s beauty, full of lustre and divine glow, reflecting in the mirror, seems to bewitch her and she is further making it up but all to please her lord she is wedded to, and as the symbol of this and of her dedication to him, as also to bar all other eyes to reach her, she is putting vermilion on her hair-parting. For portraying the divinity that her virtue imparts to her beauty the artist has sculpted a halo, the symbol of the divine aura, along her face. In classification of Nayikas, the faithful wife is classed as the highest of all.
The figure of the young lady has been installed on a beautifully sculpted lotus pedestal. Though at the cost of her height which in a curved figure appears to be far less, the artist has preferred dramatizing it by introducing curves first around the waist which projects her hips to left and bends her subdued belly, then around the shoulders throwing it to right giving sensuous projection to her breasts, and finally, tilting the head leftwards giving a unique profile to her entire being. The well-bejeweled damsel covered with lavish ornaments from head to feet : large ‘karna-phools’ – the flower-like conceived ear-ornaments, necklaces, arms-band, bangles, girdle, anklets, ornaments for feet among others, is the model of absolute beauty. The large size flowers like shaped stana-patta further magnifies the beauty of her sensuously modeled breasts. An elegantly pleated antariya, conceived like a tight-fitted pajama beautified by a decorative band in the parting of legs and a wide range of frills suspending from the girdle covering a large part of the antariya and a long gorgeous sash winding around her both arms, neck and unfurling on both sides afford great magnificence to her form.
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.