Monthly Archives: December 2016

Lakshmi in art : depictions from sculpture

       Lakshmi is the Goddess of prosperity and wealth and worshipped by Hindus. She is the consort of Lord Vishnu of the Hindu trinity. As per Hindu mythology, she has risen  from the samudramanthan during which the ocean was churned for the pot of ambrosia.When she had arisen, her beaury captivated all the Gods but Vishnu claimed her hand and she too preferred him. She is also called Padma because of her beauty and association with the flower.Her other names include Kamala,Padmapriya,Padmamukhi,Padmakshi,Padmasundari,Jagadishwari,Vishnupriya and Ulkavahini.

Goddess Lakshmi is mentioned as the daughter of Sage Bhrigu, and because of a certain curse of a sage on Indra, the Gods left heaven and Lakshmi took refuge in the ocean. She was restored with the Gods after the ocean churning or samudramanthan.

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Lakshmi ,9th century,LACMA collection, USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lakshmi is an important deity  and Goddess of fortune in Jainism and Buddhism and is seen depicted at stupas and cave temples.

Gajalakshmi, North torana(gateway), 1st century, Great Stupa. Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.

By Bernard Gagnon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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 Dancing Lakshmi,12th century, Chennakesava Temple,Belur, Karnataka.

By Nagarjun Kandukuru (Flickr: Dancing Lakshmi) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

File:'Gaja Laksmi' (Lakshmi), late 9th-early 10th century, sandstone, Museum of Cham Sculptur.JPG

Gajalakshmi , late 9th-early 10th century, Sandstone, Museum of Cham,Vietnam.

By Wmpearl (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

      Goddess Lakshmi is very devoted to her husband and in many depictions she is shown at his feet. She accompanied Lord Vishnu every time he descended on the earth. She was Sita to Lord Rama and Rukmini to Lord Krishna. Lakshmi is supposed to be the embodiment of all virtues. She is the divine strength of Lord Vishnu. All women are supposed to be the embodiment of Lakshmi as per Hindu belief.

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Vishnu and Lakshmi at Ajanta caves, 2nd Century B.C- 7th Century A.D, Maharashtra.

By Ranjankumar Sahoo22 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Vishnu and Lakshmi, West India, c. 12th century AD, chlorite - Matsuoka Museum of Art - Tokyo, Japan - DSC07153.JPG

Vishnu and Lakshmi,  12th century , chlorite, West India, Matsuoka Museum of Art,Tokyo.

By Daderot (Own work) [Public domain or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

     Goddess Lakshmi is propitiated for benefits like wealth, family dwellings, friends, good harvest , good health etc. She is worshipped alone or along with Lord Vishnu. as per the Vishnu-purana. Sri or Lakshmi is the mother of all beings and Hari or Vishnu is the father. Lord Vishnu is called Narayana. If she represents speech, Lord Vishnu is the meaning. Lord Vishnu represents understanding and she is the intellect behind it. Goddess Lakshmi’s kind gaze can transform fortunes and is much sought after. Her symbol is lotus which represents beauty, fortune and liberation and she is depicted standing or sitting on it. She is revered as having the energy of the Supreme Being.

File:Lakshmi, South India, 12th-13th century AD, granite - Matsuoka Museum of Art - Tokyo, Japan - DSC07146.JPG

Lakshmi, 12th-13th century AD, granite, South India, Matsuoka Museum of Art ,Tokyo. 

By Daderot (Own work) [Public domain or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

     Gajalakhsmi or Lakshmi seen with elephants is usually seen seated in padmasana on a lotus. On her sides she is flanked by elephants who are pouring water over the Goddess with their trunks symbolising abundance and good luck. She carries lotus in her hand and  is usually depicted as four armed, one  in abhaya mudra (depiction of fearlessness)and the other in varamudra (depiction of fulfilment of wishes.)

      Lakshmi’s four hands symbolise the four goals of the Hindu way of life ; dharma,kama,artha and moksha. Lakshmi’s vehicle is the owl. She is always resplendent and is showering prosperity. She signifies economic activity. Her statues have been found in Hindu temples all over South Asia. She has been depicted on coinage from ancient India. The festivals Diwali and Sharad Purnima are dedicated to her.

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Gajalakhsmi, Angkor Vat, Cambodia.

By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France (Lakshmi (Banteay Srei, Angkor)) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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Lakhsmi arising from the milk-ocean after the Samudramanthan or churning of the ocean,Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu.

By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons


Lakshmi with Narayana, 11th century, stone, National Museum, New Delhi.

By Miya.m (Miya.m’s file) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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Lakshmi ,10th century,sandstone,  Museum of Vietnamese History, Ho Chi Minh City.

By Unknown. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

File:The Hindu Goddess Shri Lakshmi LACMA M.87.210 (1 of 2).jpg

 Lakshmi,brass, 17th-18th century,Odisha,LACMA,USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


References :

  • Thomas, P/Epics, myths and legends of India, Bombay : D. B. Taraporevala and Sons.


Posted by

Soma Ghosh



Ganapati in art : some depictions

      Ganapati is a revered deity and is worshipped by millions of Hindus across India. Known as remover of obstacles, Ganapati is offered puja at the beginning of any venture by Hindus.He is also called Ganesha, Ganaraya, Vinayaka,Vigneshwara among many other names.He is the God of intellect and wisdom. He became prominent as a deity in the 4th and 5th century. The scriptures dedicated to Ganapati are the Ganesha-purana, Mudgala-purana, Ganapati atharvashirsha, Brahmandapurana etc.

      Ganapati is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. His vehicle is the rat or mushaka. He is the Lord of the ganas; semi-divine beings who are a part of Lord Shiva’s retinue.

         Ganesha is the only deity with a elephant’s head.  Worshipped before every new beginning and placed along with Goddess Lakhsmi in shops and other establishments; Ganapati is also addressed before embarking on a journey. Many stories exist regarding the birth of Ganapati. According to the Matsya Purana, Lord Shiva used to arrive during the bathing time of his consort Parvati, which used to annoy her. In order to stop this she is believed to have taken the oils and other ointments along with the impurities from her body she formed it into a live boy-figure by sprinkling some water from the Ganges. She kept him to be her door keeper while she was bathing. Lord Shiva arrived and wanted entry. However he was denied the same and a quarrel ensued. He got angry and cut of the boy’s head. Parvati came out and was very upset. Lord Shiva asked his attendants to get the first head that they could find to bring back the boy to life. The first head happened to be an elephant’s which was fixed on the boy’s trunk and he came back to life. This appeased Parvati and her son became Ganesha or Ganapati, the elephant headed God.

The Holy Family, Shiva, Parvati, with their sons Ganesha and Karttikeya, National Museum, New Delhi.jpg

Pahari painting,1750, National Museum, New Delhi.

By Yann (talk) – Own work, Public Domain,

There is another mythological story regarding the birth of Ganesha. Goddess Parvati is believed to have worshipped Lord Vishnu for a son. Lord Vishnu himself came to her as a boy-child. All the Gods came to congratulate her and fixed their gaze on the child. Only God Shani did not look at the boy as he was cursed that anything he fixed his gaze upon would perish. However Parvati insisted and the moment Shani gazed upon the child, the child’s head flew off to Vaikunta. Parvati cursed Shani and was inconsolable. Lord Vishnu went in search of a head and came back with an elephant’s head. Parvati fixed it on the trunk of the child and Lord Brahma infused him with life.

    Another story as per the Varaha Purana, Lord Shiva himself produced Ganesha, on request of holy sages to produce a being to combat obstacles. From Lord Shiva’s countenance emerged a beautiful youth. Parvati got jealous of him and cursed him saying he will have a elephant’s head and a protruding belly. Lord Shiva blessed him saying he will be the leader of the ganas and everybody will worship him first on all occasions.

File:Ganesha - Stone - Circa 11th Century CE - Bihar - ACCN 3920 - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2015-09-26 3913.JPG

Ganesha, 11th century, Bihar.(Indian Museum,Kolkata)

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (, CC BY 3.0 (, GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


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Ganesha sculpture,schist,13th century, Halebid, Karnataka

By Quadell (Self-published work by Quadell) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


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Ganesha,13th century, Ramappa Temple, Warangal, Telangana.

By Varshabhargavi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

          As per mythology, Parasurama came to visit Lord Shiva in Mount Kailash and was in a hurry. Ganesha did not allow him entry as Lord Shiva was sleeping. In the altercation , Parasurama cut off one of Ganesha’s tusks. Parvati came to curse Parasurama, but was stopped by Lord Brahma who assured her that her son would be worshipped by all Gods.

File:Ganapati at Ellora.JPG

Ganesha ,6th to 8th century , Ellora caves,Maharashtra.

By Chinmaya Panda (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


File:Dancing Ganesha - Brass - Circa 18th Century CE - Odisha - ACCN 95-2 - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2015-09-26 3946.JPG

Dancing Ganesha in brass, 18th century, Odisha.(Indian Museum,Kolkata)

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (, CC BY 3.0 (, GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0


File:Ganesha, India, Tamil Nadu, early 20th century, wood.jpg

Ganesha in wood, early 20th century, Tamil Nadu.

By Haa900 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
(, via Wikimedia Commons



A Shakta manuscript cover, watercolour,gold and silver on wood, 19th century, Nepal.

By Unknown – LACMA, Public Domain,

File:Eight-armed Ganesha - Patachitra - Tussore - Odisha - ACCN 2007-67 - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2015-09-26 3892.JPG

Ganesha, pattachitra, Indian Museum.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (, CC BY 3.0 (, GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Ganesha Kangra miniature 18th century Dubost p51.jpg

Ganesha with Shiva-Parvati, Kangra miniature painting, 18th century, Allahabad Museum.

By Kangra miniature (Allahabad Museum, New Delhi.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Kalighat Ganesha in the lap of Parvati.jpg

Parvati with Ganesha, Kalighat Painting.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Mask of Ganesha - Papier Mache - Koraput - ACCN 84-79 - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2015-09-26 3917.JPG

Papier mache mask of Ganesha, Koraput,Odisha.( Indian Museum,Kolkata)

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (, CC BY 3.0 (, GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Ganesha is believed to be the scribe of the epic Mahabharata. Sage Vedavyasa dictated the same to him which he wrote down.

     Ganesha’s consorts Siddhi And Buddhi came to him by a competition with his brother Kartikeya. Both were asked to circle the entire world in order to win the maidens’hand. While Kartikeya went off on his peacock, Ganesha simply quoted from sacred literature relating to geography that he had already done the tour.

    Lord Ganapati’s iconic representations are many. He is shown standing, seated, crawling, dancing or on his mother’s lap. Also he is seen with two to sixteen arms in different representations.

Four-armed Ganesha - Copper - Circa 16th Century CE - Himachal Pradesh - ACCN 2000-93 - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2015-09-26 3866.JPG

Standing Ganesha, 16th century, Himachal Pradesh.(Indian Museum, Kolkata)

By Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0,

File:Ganesha ink.jpg

Ganesha in ink, early 19th century manuscript from Bhagavata Purana, Mysore,Karnataka.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Tibetan Ganesha, 15th century,Tibet.

By Redtigerxyz at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Rajasthani manuscript of Mahabharata, 17th century, Ganesha with Vedavyasa as scribe of the epic.

By Indian, Rajasthani, –, Public Domain,

City Palace Udaipur Rajasthan.jpg

Lord Ganesha with attendants, 16th century,City Palace, Udaipur, Rajasthan.

By Onef9day – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Ganesha with ashtasiddhis , 19th century.

By Raja Ravi Varma – Original source of this well established Ravi Varma Picture is not stated by uploader, however copies available here [1][2], Public Domain,


References :

  • Thomas, P./Epics,myths and legends of India, Bombay : D. B. Taraporewala and Sons.



Posted by :

Soma Ghosh


© author











Stambhas in architecture : depictions from India


          Stambha is a column with cosmic connotations, a connection between heaven and earth. Stambhas have been mentioned in early Hindu literature like the Atharvaveda.

    Stambhas are of different types; dhwaja stambha, kirtistambha, vijaystambha, deepastambha and the stambhas of King Ashoka.

   The dhwaja stambhas are placed in front of the main deity of a temple; kirti/vijay stambhas usually commemorate victories. The Ashoka pillars depict the royal edicts of King Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty. The deepa stambhas are lit up on festival days at temples.

  There is a magnificent vijaystambha ot tower of victory, also referred to as kirtistambha or tower of glory at Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Built by Rana Kumbha in 1448 to celebrate his victory over Mahmud Khilji fighting the armies of Malwa and Gujarat. The tower was designed by architect Sutradhar Jaita. The genealogy of the kings of Chittor and names of the architect and carved on the tower.

The image of Padmavati, Jain Goddess is on the top story. The word Allah is also carved in the third and eight stories.

     The Ashoka pillars were columns built by Maurya king and emperor Ashoka during 3rd century B.C. These pillars were inscribed with his edicts. Nineteen pillars still exist with the inscriptions. Six of them have lion capitals and some had the bull. The pillars weigh 50 tonnes in weight and were average 15 m in height. They were transported between large distances to their destinations. The pillars were carved out of red-white or buff-coloured  sandstone, mostly at Buddhist monasteries after being brought from Chunar and Mathura. 


Ashoka pillar, 3rd century B.C.,Vaishali(without edict), Bihar.

By Bpilgrim (talk · contribs) – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,



Ashoka Pillar, Allahabad, 1870.jpg

Ashoka pillar at Allahabad, 1870 image.

By Thomas A. Rust – British Library, Public Domain,


Lion Pillar on the way to the Dhauli Giri.JPG

Ashoka pillar with lion capital near Bhubaneshwar,3rd century B.C.,Odisha.

By Amit Bikram Kanungo – my digital camera, Public Domain,

The Ashoka pillar of 13 m height, at  Ferozeshah Kotla at Delhi was originally at Topra in Ambala from where it was brought and reinstalled at Delhi by Feroze Shah.

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Ashoka pillar, Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi.
By Anupamg – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Ashoka Pillar at Feroze Shah Kotla, Delhi 02.JPG
Inscriptions on Ashoka pillar.
By Dhamijalok – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
File:VijaystambhIMG 0324.jpg


Vijay stambh, 15th century, Chittorgarh, Rajasthan.

By Praxipat (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

At the Virupaksha temple at Pattadakal in Karnataka is a victory pillar with inscriptions from the eighth century. The inscription relates the victory of Vikramaditya II of the Badami Chalukya over the Pallavas of Kanchipuram.


8th century Kannada inscription on victory pillar at Pattadakal.jpg

Victory pillar with inscriptions, 8th century, Pattadakal, Karnataka.

By Dineshkannambadi at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

      A brahma stambha stands in front of the Parsvanatha Basti on top of the Chandragiri Hill at Sravanabelogola in Karnataka’s Hassan district. The temple was built in the 11th century and is called Kamata Pasrvanatha Basti.The image of Parsvanatha stands on a lotus pedestal. Lord Parsvanatha is  the 23rd Jain Tirthankara and who had an encounter with his enemy Kamata. In late 17th century a manasthambha, also referred to as Brahmastambha facing the temple, 65 feet in height was erected.

Brahma stambha (Pillar) near the Parsvanatha Basadi at Shravanabelgola.jpg

Brahmastambha, 17th century,Hassan, Karnataka.

By HoysalaPhotos – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

     The Kolaramma temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati worshipped as Kolaramma. She is the presiding deity of Kolar in Karnataka. It was built 1000 years ago. by the Cholas. Ornately carved statues from granite stone, lend splendour to the temple which the Maharajas of Mysore used to visit regularly. The second deity at the temple is Chellamma who protects from scorpion-bites. The Hundi of the temple is believed to have a large hole dug into the earth from where one can still hear the sounds of the coins collected over hundred of years.


Stambha in the Kolaramma Temple at Kolar.jpg

Dhwajastambha, Kolaramma temple, Kolar, Karnataka.

By Gautamoncloud9 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

   In the Hutheesing Jain temple at Ahmedabad,Gujarat which was built in 1848 dedicated to the 15th  Jain Tirthankara,Dharmanatha. Hutheesing was a rich trader who helped traders by building the temple so that they could be engaged in work during drought which lasted two years. Designed by Premchand Salat, the main building is  double storied. The temple houses 11 deities and an additional 52 shrines. The temple has a manastambha or a column of honour.

Huthisingh temple.jpg

Manastambha,Hutheesing Jain Temple

By Vaishal Dalal – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


File:Harsiddhi Temple, Deepstambha, Ujjain.jpg

Deepastambha, Harsiddhi Mata Temple, Ujjain.

By Gyanendra_Singh_Chauhan ( [CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

    The Shantadurga or Santeri temple near Panjim in Goa is dedicated to Goddess Shantadurga who is believed to have mediated to stop the quarrel Between Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu of the Hindu trinity. The temple was built during the reign of King Shahu, grandson of Shivaji in the 18th century between 1713 to 1738. The temple had undergone many modifications and Neo-classical architecture can also be seen. On the left side of the courtyard is a deepastambha which is lit up with oil lamps on festival days.

Shantadurga Temple, North Goa District, Goa.jpg

Deepastambha,Shantadurga temple, 18th century, Goa.

By Netguru – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

References :




Posted by :

Soma Ghosh


© author






Parvati in art : depictions from sculpture


Goddess Parvati from Hinduism represents love, devotion and fertility. She is the mother goddess and is  nurturing and gentle. But she has other aspects which are depicted in her 108 names.

Her name is derived from the word parvata which means mountain in Sanskrit. She is the daughter of Himavat, king of the mountains. She is the consort of Lord Shiva. She was Sati reborn (who was Lord Shiva’s earlier wife and had perished due to a feud between her father Daksha and Lord Shiva). Parvati had to practice severe austerities before she could marry him. Their children are Ganesha and Kartikeya.

Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and Goddess Parvati together  make up Tridevi.

Along with Lord Shiva she is central to Shaivism ( a sect of Hinduism; followers of Lord Shiva) and is depicted in literature, art and sculpture all over Asia.


Parvati, terracotta, Gupta period, National Museum, New Delhi,India.

By Nomu420 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Goddess Parvati, Odisha, 12th century,India


Goddess Parvati, Odisha, 11th century.


Goddess Parvati, standing on Nandi, the bull with her children on her side, Java, Indonesia,14th century. shibainu (originally posted to Flickr as MET : Asian Wing) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Goddess Parvati has many other names. Haimavathi again means , daughter of Himavan. She is also called Aparna; one who took nothing to sustain herself. She is also called Shailaja, daughter of the mountains.

She is Uma and Ambika, Shakti,Gauri,Kali,Shyama,Maheshwari, Durga, Bhairavi, Bhavani,Kamakshi,Annapurna and many others. She is Lalita in the Lalita sahsranama, where she has a thousand names.

Goddess Parvati is referred to as a beautiful maiden.She is a Goddess in many different roles and moods. She is calm and placid,or  fierce and an enemy of evil. She is fair and golden as well as dark complexioned in her many forms.


Goddess Parvati, Chola bronze,13th century.

By No machine-readable author provided. QuartierLatin1968 assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Parvati is first mentioned in the.Kena upanishad as the embodiment of knowledge and the mother of the world. She reveals the supreme knowledge or Brahman to Agni, Vayu and Indra. She finds mention in the Hamsa upanishad. In the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata she is mentioned and also in the Puranas. Coins were issued depicting Uma during King Harsha’s time in ancient India.

The Shiva-Parvati theme is represented in art and sculpture in many parts of India and South Asia. Many temples are dedicated to her; with her unique name and legend associated with them. Festivals like Teej and Gauri tritiya are held during the year.


Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, Chola, 13th century. Hiart (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons


Lord Shiva and Parvati with Ravana shaking Mount Kailasa,Ellora cave No.29, Maharashtra, India. By No machine-readable author provided. QuartierLatin1968 assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL



The marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati, ivory, 18th century. Wikipedia Loves Art participant “the_arty_facts” [CC BY-SA 2.5 (, via Wikimedia Commons


Goddess Parvati, 11th century.


Lord Shiva and Parvati on Nandi, Shiva’s vehicle,11th century., Sailko [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY 2.5 (, via Wikimedia Commons

     Goddess Parvati is the ideal wife and mother. In the concept of Ardhanarishwara an ideal visualisation of a couple is depicted as half man and half woman. Each is complementing the other; one being Shiva and the other Parvati.


Ardhnarishwara, red mottled sandstone, Mathura, 2nd-3rd century. page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons





  • Epics, myths and legends of India/Thomas, P, Bombay : D.B. Taraporewala and Sons.






Posted by :



Soma Ghosh


© author




Bijapur and Ahmadnagar paintings : regal splendour

Bijapur and Ahmadnagar were two important sultanates of the Deccan in medieval India. Both were powerful and contributed to the regions they ruled; built monuments whose remains are still seen. They were patrons of a unique painting forms which give us not only a historical record of those times but also contribute to the genre of Indian miniature painting. Bijapur paintings have survived in bigger number than those from Ahmadnagar.

The Bijapuri school flourished under Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his successors to some extent. Sultan Adil Shah I too was a patron of the arts and Shirazi, a immigrant from Persia who composed Tazkira-al mulk, worked in his kingdom during his reign. He patronised calligraphers and had a well stocked library.


Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II, Bijapur, late 16th century. Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Bijapuri school was influenced by the Mughal and European style to some extent. Males are seen wearing turbans and royal costumes. The women had South Indian features with elongated eyes,wearing gold jewellery and saris. The main works produced during Sultan Adil Shah I rule were on musical themes like the Javahir al Musiqat-i-Muhammadi.

Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II was a mystic,a calligrapher and a composer himself; he transformed Bijapuri painting. Highly sensitive, he was influenced by both Islam and Hinduism.The work produced during his reign is very strong on emotion; the word nauras meant everything to him which translates as ‘nine flavours of life’. His writings are collected in Kitab-i-nauras. Maulana Farookh Hussain was an important painter in his court who influenced all the artists of the time.  Bijapuri painting had paintings either with the garden of paradise  setting or a idealised form of a human figure. The clothes were reflective of the era. Muslin robes, Kashmiri shawls , golden slippers, conical headgear are all seen on royalty and noblemen.

The painting of Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah on his elephant, Atash Khan and his mate Chanchal are seen moving through  a meadow. Delicate flowers and trees abound; this painting has strong European influence.


Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah on his elephant Atash Khan, Bijapur,1600-10. Attributed to Farrukh Beg [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Aayat-ul-kursi, Bijapur,16th century.

By Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The throne verse in the form of a calligraphic horse, Bijapur, 16th century.(Aayat-ul-kursi). The painting style of Bijapur changed when Ahmadnagar was divided between Bijapur and the Mughals. Many Rajputs were serving as Governors in the Mughal administration om Bundi, Kotah and Bikaner. These princes brought their families and probably painters as well. Portraiture became popular and the works began to be dated and signed. Mughal artists too had come to Bijapur and influences are seen in the paintings. Slowly lot of North Indian influence came into the later works. Mohammad Khan and Abdul Karim were important artists during Sultan Mohammad Adil Shah’s reign.


Sultan Mohammad Adil Shah with Ikhlas Khan, his prime minister, Bijapur, 17th century. page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Sultan Mohammad Adil Shah selecting a jewel, Bijapur,1650.

By English: thesandiegomuseumofartcollection (Flickr) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

During Sultan Ali Adil Shah reign florals and abstracts too were produced in addition to portraiture.


Sultan Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur, Bijapur,1800. See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Chandbibi was daughter of Hussain Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar and was married to Sultan Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur. She was  regent of Bijapur ( 1580-90) and regent of Ahmadnagar (1596-99). She fought hard against the Mughal forces to save Ahmednagar from their hegemony.


Chandbibi, regent of Bijapur and Ahmadnagar, painting,Bijapur,18th century.

By India, 18th century Deccan School (Sotheby’s, London, 06 April 2011, lot 248) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mughal and Deccani styles had amalgamated and continued during the reigns of Sultan Ali Adil Shah II and Sultan Sikandar Adil Shah; but the local styles re-emerged in the form of richer colours, prominent facial features and  graceful gestures.

During Sultan Ali Adil Shah’s reign florals and abstracts too were produced in addition to portraiture.


Sultan Ali Adil Shah II, Bijapur painting, 1670.

By Unknown –, Public Domain,


Chandbibi playing polo, Bijapur, 18th century. page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Painting in the Nizam Shahi court at Ahmadnagar(1490-1636) took place under the three Sultans; Hussain Nizam Shahi I, his sons Murtaza I and Burhan II. The art mainly lasted for a short time and only some specimens have survived for posterity. The Tarif-i-Hussain Shahi lauds Hussain and his queen Khanzada Humayun and the conquest of Vijayanagara kingdom. The illustrations include that of the court, the queen and a shalabhanjika/dohada theme of a tree bursting into flowers at the touch of a lovely maiden (most probably the queen herself)


From the Tarif-i-Hussain Shahi, battle of Talikota, Ahmadnagar,1565.

By Aftabi – Template:Ta’rif-i Husain Shahi [1][2], CC BY-SA 4.0,

Ragamala paintings were produced in Northern Deccan which are mostly assigned to Ahmadnagar. They  bear some  similarity to Tarif -i-hussain shahi vide its colour composition and and simple figures.


Gauri ragini , Ragamala painting , probably Ahmadnagar,16th century.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Sultan Hussain Nizam Shah I, from the Tarif-i-Hussain Shahi, Ahmadnagar, 1565.

By Indischer Maler um 1565 – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain,


Sultan Burhan Nizam Shah II, Ahmadnagar,1591-95.

By Unknown – PORTRAIT OF BURHAN NIZAM SHAH II. (1591-95) of Ahmadnagar. Biblioteque Nationale, Paris, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Malik Ambar(1548-1626) was an important figure in Deccan politics. He was an Ethiopian  and sold as a slave and came to India. He organised his own army and became a prime minister at the Ahmadnagar Sultanate. He had an important military role against the Mughals. His portrait captures his complexion, his strong stature showing him with his head-dress, long robe and his sword.


Malik Amber, Ahmadnagar, 1624-5.

By Hashim (made) (bridgeman berlin) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

References :

  • George, Michell and Zebroswki, Mark/The art and architecture of the Deccan Sultanates, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

Ⓒ author

Kalpavriksha or tree of life : depictions from Asia


 The concept of the tree of life, wish fulfilling tree  exists in many cultures. In India the word used is kalpataru or kalpavrikhsha.  Also known as Kalpadruma, it  is a divine tree in Hinduism. It has been mentioned in Sanskrit  literature like Manasara, part of Shilpashastra  and Jain cosmology.  Some depictions in art are mentioned  herein from Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka in India and Java in Indonesia.

    The birth of the kalpavriksha happened during the samudramanthan or churning of the ocean as per Hindu mythology. Along with the tree, the wish fulfilling cow kamadhenu was also born. Lord Indra is supposed to have taken them to heaven, devaloka, along with him and planted it there.  As per mythology  there are five kalpavrikshas; mandana, parijata, santana, kalpavrikhsa and harichandana. All these are believed to grant different wishes to the  devas or gods and out of jealousy the asuras or demons waged wars with them. Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati gave away their daughter Aranyani to a Kalpavriskha for safekeeping when the demon Andhakasura waged war, with a request to bring her up as Vanadevi, or protector of forests. Another daughter Ashokasundari was created from a Kalpavriksha to be a companion to Parvati during period of loneliness.

     The banyan tree or nyagrodha is called kalpataru; the coconut tree whose every part is utilised by human beings for various purposes,the ashwatha (fig) tree, believed to be sacred, mahua tree, shami tree or jaant  of Rajasthan which stays green always and checks soil erosion is also referred to as kalapataru. A variety of palm is considered as kalpataru in Tamil Nadu in India. The Baobab or Parijata  tree is called kalpavriksh in Uttar Pradesh, believed to have been brought by Arjuna, one of the main Pandavas from the epic Mahabharata.    

      The Great Stupa at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh, India has many depictions of the bodhi tree which is shown as being worshipped for its association with Lord Buddha. The bodhi tree is an akshaya vata, eternal, life giving tree. Originally commissioned by King Ashoka in 3rd century B.C many structures were added to the stupa complex by other dynasties. Scenes from Lord  Buddha’s life are sculpted on the toranas (gateways) and other structures in and around the stupa.


Sculpture at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.

Photographed at the Sanchi Hill, Raisen district of the state of Madhya Pradesh, India.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (, CC BY 3.0 (, GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


Sculpture at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (, CC BY 3.0 (, GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia


Sculpture at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.

By Nandanupadhyay (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

      A Hindu temple at Java in Indonesia Candi Prambanan from the 9th century is dedicated to the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The temple has pointed architecture with a large complex of many individual shrines. The epics Ramayana and Bhagavata-purana are depicted along the inner balustrade walls of the main shrines. The kalpataru is depicted on the lower outer wall niches.


Kalpataru guarded by Kinnara and Kinnari, mythical beings at Candi Prambanan, Java, Indonesia.

By Gunawan Kartapranata (Own work originally uploaded in english wikipedia) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (, via Wikimedia Commons

Kalpataru and Kinnara, Siva Temple, Candi Prambanan, Java.

Photograph from Prambanan temple compound near Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia taken by Anandajoti.By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (043 Kalpataru and Kinnara, Siva Temple) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


Kalpataru and peacocks, Vishnu Temple, Candi Prambanan, Java,Indonesia.

Photograph from Prambanan temple compound near Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia taken by Anandajoti.
By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (124 Kalpataru and Peacocks, Visnu Temple) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


Kalpataru and lions, Nandi Temple, Candi Prambanan, Java,Indonesia.

Photograph from Prambanan temple compound near Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia taken by Anandajoti.
By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (129 Kalpataru and Lions, Nandi Temple) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


Kalpataru and monkeys, Brahma Temple,Candi Prambanan , Java, Indonesia.

By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (085 Kaplataru and Monkeys, Brahma Temple) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

     In Jainism too the kalpavrikshas are wish fulfilling trees. There are ten such trees who grant different wishes. The madyanga trees provides delicious drinks, the Bhojananga provides great food, yotiranga gives light, dopanga gives indoor light  The others  include pananga, turiyanga, bhusananga, vatthanga, alayanga, diviyanga who provide music, ornaments, mansions, utensils etc.


Kalpataru, wall painting, Jain Basadi, Moodbidri, Karnataka,India

By Vaikoovery (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Ranakpur temple - Kalpavriksha leaf carving

Kalapavriksha  carving in marble, Jain temple at Ranakpur, Rajasthan, India. ( Photo taken by Patrick Barry)


References :


Posted by

Soma Ghosh