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The Divine Glamour Of Devi Lakshmi

Upon a throne of bejewelled gold, upholstered in blue and purple velvet, sits the gorgeous Devi Lakshmi. Her legs are in lalitasana, the signature stance in Indian iconography; and lotuses in Her posterior hands, symbols of wealth and plenty in Her anterior ones. The richly coloured silks and ample jewels that clothe Her convey the divine glamour of the wife of Lord Vishnu.

The painting that you see on this page is a skilfully executed watercolour, what with the level of detail and the metallic handiwork that has gone into the work. However, vibrant jewel tones and copious proportions of pure embossed gold make it fit to hold a candle to the finest oil paintings. Note the shimmering crimson of the Devi’s saree, the emerald green of Her blouse as well as the rug beneath Her footstool, and the sheer infusion of gold in Her roofed-up throne, the adornments on Her person, and the plenitude pot in Her anterior left hand.

That which shines brighter than gold is the Devi’s fair complexion. From the skin of Her superbly youthful face to the tautness of Her inner arms, She looks every bit the queen of Lord Vishnu’s heart that She is. An unassuming background of dark ochre gradient brings out the colours and the gold in the foreground. More of embossed gold is to be found along the edges of the painting which resemble continuous vines of soft, fruit-laden gold.

Big Shiva's Trident

Lustrous and long Trishula with a pointed sharp tip at the bottom holds a great significance. Every implement of the divine has its own importance and so the trident also holds its significance. The upper three sharp and pointed faces of the trident resemble waking, dreaming and sleeping or the three aspects of consciousness.

The trident is spiritual, transcendental and divine as it is the weapon of the head of all the demigods. The trishula also represents the three gunas: satva, raja, and tama. It is the upholder of all three states and shul means the destruction of all the sufferings. It eradicates all the three problems in one’s spiritual life which are Aadibhautik (physical), Aadhyatmik (spiritual) and Aadidaivik (ethereal). Hence, it’s a blissful implement which relieves you from all the negativity and sufferings.

Apart from it’s spiritual significance, this golden, astonishing and brilliantly carved illustration is just eye catching, which will look good in the hands of Lord Shiva.

Seated Buddha Figurine With Wooden Bodhi Tree Aureole

A miniature sculpture of the Buddha made from pure brass. It depicts Him seated in padmasana, the king of the dhyani (contemplative) yogic stances. An almsbowl in the palm of His left hand, indicative of the years of wandering and mendicancy leading up to His enlightenment. The right hand raised in infinite blessing. The withdrawn composure of a handsome countenance. This chhavi (image) of the Buddha is one of the most calming sights to the devotee. From the princely features of the erstwhile Shakyamuni to the stance of His beauteous body, it exudes a sattvik calm and stillness.

It is said that the wandering monk had sought some rest in the shade of a fig tree in Gaya. Having been irreversibly drawn in by its luxuriant canopy, He attained to Buddhahood shortly thereafter. In the work of art that you see on this page, the little Buddha figurine is set off by a wood-sculpted aureole designed to resemble the canopy of the Indian fig. The delicately curving silhouette of the stem, wide-set roots, and an abundance of leaf and branch that kiss the very roots of the tree. A round, perfectly symmetrical silhouette adds to the aesthetics of the composition.

The different media used to put together this composite work makes for an interesting colour palette. A jet black base that brings out the polished gold colour of the brass, and the deep brown shades of the Bodhi tree aureole with overtones of black.

Banarasi Brocaded Dupatta with Floral Weave in Zari Thread
The endemic Banarasi brocade is the textile of choice of India's elite, the wealthy and the upper caste. This sumptuous dupatta, with its gossamer silk foundation and dense zariwork that glistens as you motion, is the very picture of super-select Indian textile art. No matter which suit you team this with, be prepared to turn more than a few heads your way.
The Life-Affirming Togetherness of Radha-Krishna

Under the whispering kadamba tree, against the inky blackness of a night in Vrindavan. Lord Krishna meets His beloved Radha, who has risked a great deal in order to show up for Her Lord under the circumstances. She lunges at Him with all the passion of a woman in love; His long, sinewy, masculine arms barely contain Her. She winds an arm round His neck and makes as if to take Him in Her kiss. He slips a hand under Her thigh and seductively draws Her close. On a night like this, the divine lovers are unable to resist themselves.

A Radha-Krishna rendezvous is a popular theme with traditional and folk artists of India. While Lord Krishna is one of the all-important ihalokiya (worldly) avataras (incarnations) of Lord Vishnu, Radha is considered to be the very roopa (manifestation) of Devi Lakshmi Herself. As such, their profound love, their undying togetherness, their unabashed intimacy with each other are the object of devotion and worship. The painting of Radha-Krishna that you see on this page is as much a work of shraddha as it is of skill.

The rendezvous of Radha-Krishna has been facilitated by a pair of milkmaids (gopiyaan) who are selflessly devoted to Krishna’s pleasure and happiness. They stand on either side of their Lord, looking on with the matchless bhakti of their hearts. A gorgeous swan preens itself in the pond in the foreground and a little deer arches its head back to look at the life-affirming image of the lovers. A black and green-gold bitone colour palette adds to the mood of the composition.

The Wise And Solemn Devi Sarasvati

A solemn Devi Sarasvati is seated in lalitasana on the back of Her swan. The pristine bird, known for its beauty and poetry of motion, is Her vahana or mount. Its long, lissome neck matches the slender body of the veena which its divine mistress strums on. The veena, a classical musical instrument, is indispensable to the iconography of Devi Sarasvati. As the wife of Lord Brahma, the presiding deity over srshti (creative projection), She is the presiding deity over learning and the fine arts.

The Sarasvati murti that you see on this page is a life-sized number sculpted from pure brass. She is wearing a traditional Northern-style saree. The shringar befits Her status as the queen of paraloka (otherworldly realm of existence); they lie gracefully against the maternal curves of Her youthful body. The chaturbhujadharini, the one possessed of (‘dharini’) four (‘chatur’) arms (‘bhuja’), holds a lotus-bud on the verge of bloom and a pothi of the Vedas in Her posterior hands, while both the anterior hands are devoted to cradling the veena.

An ornate crown sits on Her head. Zoom in on the same to appreciate the level of detail introduced into the structure - the studded jewels, the engravings on the tapering section, and the chakras on the sides. A serrated halo sets off the composure of omniscience of Devi Sarasvati. Another example of the super-skilled workmanship is to be found in the body of the vahana, its plumage having been executed with a lifelike quality. The composition rests on a discus-shaped pedestal engraved with lotus petals.

Standing Chaturbhujadhari Ganesha
Unlike the ferocity of His father, Lord Ganesha is adored by devotees for His gentleness of demeanour. He is the baal-deva (boy-deity) of Kailash Mansarovar, with His chubby child’s form and the qualities of innocence and wisdom associated with Him. Needless to say, His elephant head is the most endearing aspect of His iconography. The sculpture you see on this page is a finely finished Lord Ganesha, done up in sandpapered gold colour with green undertones.

His head features a lifelike tilt and is flanked by convoluted ears of great depth. Beneath the keenly engraved crown is a semblance of the third eye and the tilak indicative of His parentage between His brow. A complete tusk peaks out from one side of the long, narrowing, serrated trunk. The chaturbhujadhari (four-armed) Lord is clad in a short dhoti, in keeping with the norms of how little boys in India are dressed. His shringar comprises a bunch of necklaces on His clavicles and bracelets on His limbs.

He stands on an upturned lotus featuring gigantic gold petals. The same is placed atop an engraved pedestal with extensions on all four corners, making the work of art convenient to carry. Note the childlike yet all-knowing gaze of Ganesha, and the laddo in His anterior left hand, without which His iconography would be incomplete.

Multicolored Brocaded Wedding Sari from Bangalore with Zari-Woven Peacocks
Bangalore is the shopping destination for the modern Indian bride. The silk and brocades that emerge from the looms of this chilled Southern city would make for worthwhile additions to the trousseau from any region of India. The one you see on this page is once such brocaded silk number, which you may add to your collection of wedding sarees or wear to your sibling’s wedding. And it is not just the sumptuous fabric and the make of it.

The colour palette pours forth with the auspicious good cheer of Indian weddings. The rich yellow of marigolds, with lush-plumage peacocks brocaded on the same. Infusions of purple vines and paisleys arranged in panels along with the rows of peacocks. The unusual yet simplistic zariworked border complements the luxuriant embroidery of the field and makes for a feminine statement. The most distinctive aspect of this saree is the endpiece, a decidedly bridal aspect. A luscious, young shade of red, layered with dense proportions of gold zari embroidered into sleek motifs.

Jet-Black Brocaded Wedding Sari from Bangalore With Zari-Woven Florals and Paisleys
Bangalore is home to sarees of a distinctive make. Pure silk and ample zariwork convey a statement of opulence, which goes well with the definitively traditional appeal of Bangalore brocades. The one you see on this page is one such product of the urban loom. It is a distinctively wedding number that would enable you to jazz up a sibling’s or best friend’s wedding with your presence. In fact, it would even make for an unconventional bridal saree.

Almost all of the surface area of the inky black foundation of this saree has been layered over with dense gold zari. Rows of paisley-within-a-paisley motifs, alternating with multi-petalled flowers and punctuated by delicate vine- and tendril-patterns, make for a sumptuous work in brocade. The endpiece features even denser embroidery, with sparse betel-leaf motifs which are considered auspicious in a home where a wedding is taking place. The solid gold of the thick border goes well with the jet black of the hem of the endpiece.

The Quintessence Of Buddhahood
The glamour of the Buddha has been captured to perfection in this one-of-a-kind brass composition. One-of-a-kind because there are many elements to the iconography that sets this apart from your run-of-the-mill seated Buddha statues. The most striking aspect of this murti is the pedestal. Inverted and engraved with lotus petals in keeping with tradition, its circumference is significantly wider than the trifecta of the deity’s padmasana.

Then there is the pale silvery tone of the composition. While the Buddha is usually depicted with a complexion that is golden and radiant, this one has a more lunar influence. This makes a statement of samatvam or equanimity, the quintessence of Buddhahood. This quality of the composition is set off by the way the features have been engraved on that soft, round face - half-shut eyes, a brow the expanse of the open wings of an albatross, and a compassionate mouth.

Note the sheer proportion of inlay on this seated Buddha. Rich vibrant pastels such as aquamarine and Prussian blue and red, interspersed with deep yellow gold. Zoom in on those sections of the Buddha’s robe done with lifelike detail - the pleated end that goes over one shoulder, the way the edge twists outwards to the right of the waist, and the way it drapes over His gathered limbs.