The lustrous brass kamandalu that you see in this painting sums up the Indian yogic idea of asceticism. It is big enough to hold a scarcely sufficient meal’s worth of food at a time. From the tanned and lined hand from which it dangles, the sadhu to whose service it belongs seems to be a veteran yogi of the lower reaches of the Himalayas. The distinctive saffron of his robes contrasts sharply with the green grass reflected on the body of the kamandalu, an unusual subject for an oil painting.
It is in the kamandalu that he accepts all his bhiksha, irrespective of the state or the taste palette of the offering in question. Everything - textures and tastes - blends therein, a reinstatement of the third of the basic tenets of asceticism. The kamandalu is practically his lifeline, the only remaining link between him and life as we know it. Any day now, he would no longer need even the humble kamandalu.
Mahakali is the great darkness and also personifies the universal power of transformation, the transcendent power of time and the cosmic goddess who rules unchallenged over the entire universe. She is the feminized variant of Mahakal (her consort) and referred as Dasa Mahavidya Mahakali when depicted as dasamukhi (ten headed).
This brass statue, sculpted in absolute perfection, shows the wrathful goddess with ten arms and ten feet; each hand carries the different ritualistic objects and weapons, each of which represents the power of devas, implying that Mahakali is responsible for the powers of each of these deities. She stands on the body of Shiva, as Mahakali is the Shakti or the pure creation and Shiva represents pure consciousness which is inert. There is a saying that Shiva without Shakti is shava, which means that without the power of action, consciousness is inactive, this sculpture depicts the same.
Mahakali here, wears her iconic long garland of severed heads and an apron of human hand tied to her waist, with the tongue lolling out in embarrassment of not recognizing her husband because of her blood lust. The crowned head is shown with a large aureole at the back and each face is depicted with three eyes representing past, present and future.
And it is not just the fabric or the luscious blue dye that makes it so distinctly Indian. It is the panels of endemic ari embroidery that runs down the front along the entire length of the jacket, around the hem, and at the ends of the loose full sleeves. The colour palette comprises of vibrant selections of pastels, and the highly characteristic motifs are of the richly colorued foliage to be found in abundance in Kashmir. The skill required to put together this stunning embroidery has been passed onto present-day artisans of the valley across generations of working with rudimentary needles, crochets, and crewels. Layer your outfit with this one-of-a-kind jacket and walk into any traditional gala like a queen.
She is tall and has the full, flowing figure of the divine mother. But for the tigerskin loincloth wrapped barely over Her thighs, She is naked. The sheer proportion of gold on Her person befits the most exalted of the heavenly Devis. A headband that holds Her luscious, floor-length hair in place; kundalas that frame Her beauteous face. Chunky bracelets clasping the length of each of Her four arms (She is chaturbhujadhari). Even Her feet are clad in gold and jewels, one of which Her Lord Shiva lovingly clasps as He lies bare beneath Her feet. Note how He gazes upon the ferocity of the Kali-roopa Parvati.
Portentous skies and a line of severed heads constitute the backdrop of this oil. A freshly severed head She grabs by the hair with one hand, its blood still dripping from the scimitar in another.
Over the pale peach saree that conceals Her young maternal figure, She wears a tiger-skin that holds the drape in place. Together with the necklace of rudrakshas and the kamandalu in Her right and left anterior hands, respectively, these elements of Her iconography convey Her status as the wife of none other than Mahadeva Himself. The gold on the edges of Her garment and the shringar on Her torso, wrists, and earlobes add to Her divine glamour.
Zoom in on the simple quadrilateral pedestal She stands on. Her feet rest on a lustrous green lotuspad, flanked by Her simhavahana (lion-mount) and Nandi. The presence of more deities are to be found in Her iconography - the Shivalingam and the miniature Lord Ganesha, Her son, atop the two lotuses She holds in Her posterior hands. Note the distinctive halo behind Her head, and how the sharp gold rays make a statement of strength and power.
In her hands she holds a plateful of offerings for her deity. A fresh coconut, handpicked flowers and leaves of basil, and juicy laddoos she has made with her own hands. The two silver dibia (miniscule containers) are for turmeric and vermillion, respectively. Her dress and shringar befit her marital status. She has chosen a brocaded red saree with miniscule booties, and a vibrant blue bootidar blouse to go with it. Her hair is thrown in one long, thick plait, pinned with studded gold accessories. The jhumke and bangles she is wearing are probably her favourite hand-me-downs from her mother. A large nosering dangles from the flap of her sharp nose, while the bejewelled maangtika on her temple is as large as those moist eyes glistening with emotion as she looks on at the receding figure of her husband.
Ganesha is revered in Hinduism popularly as Vighnaharta (one who removes obstacles) and also worshipped first before the start of any auspicious event or celebration to have an easy flow of work; he is the only god who shares a similar bond with every child and adult because of his childlike innocence and love for his devotees. This Ganesha sculpture is sculpted in his iconic paunchy belly and sits comfortably on his sacred vahana, mouse, who stands on a stylized double layered flower pedestal. The sculptor has beautifully played with the color palette while coloring this sculpture in a bright green and divine orange hue and the vahana has a self patterned shade of a unique black, green and yellow blend.
Unlike the usual ways, his well striated trunk is postured high towards the left and holds a beautiful double lotus. Chaturbhuja carries his favorite fruit, Mango and the broken tusk in his anterior hands highlighting his child behavior and immense dedication respectively. Posterior hands carry the implements used to demolish evils, all carved in a magnificent style.
The color of Ganesha’s garbs and embellishments complement beautifully, enhancing the bright color of his skin. The sun haloed crown glorified on his head is carved in mesmerizingly beauteous patterns in multiple layers. The intense shine and glow of this Ganesha statue captures the attention of the viewers.
It is an understated number, the colour palette comprising of a few pastel basics. Slender red-bordered paisleys in all their elongated beauty, their pale blue bellies embroidered with miniscule flowers. The same are punctuated with yellow and light pink maple leaves with similar embroidery within their silhouettes. The sandy base colour brings out the beauty of the same. It is the density of the tribal sozni handiwork - which is, again, endemic to Kashmir - that makes this shawl a sumptuous buy.
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