Tag Archives: Lotus

Delight in design : floral motifs in Bidri craft

    Man is very much a part of nature and what he sees around him influences him deeply. This is more true for artists and craftsmen who are always inspired to create what they have visualised in their imagination. Flora and fauna abounds on this planet and have found their way into artworks. Vegetal and animal motifs are commonly seen in plastic arts, textiles and metalcrafts. We see surreal forms and stylised varieties of flowers, creepers, trees and animals. The designs create a magic of their own and hint at a greater reality beyond space and time.

 Introduction : the beginnings of Bidri

     The art of inlaying one metal on the other to make objects of art and utility is a very old one. It was used for making metal images of the Buddha with copper and silver inlay work in the 6th and 7th centuries, during the Gupta rule in India. The bronzes of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh from 7th to 10th century and the Jaina bronzes of Eastern India, Central India and Deccan from 6th to 10th century  had  inlay work.  The origin of Bidri craft is  a bit of a mystery; the craft is believed to have been born in Persia. In Safavid Persia (750 -1258A.D) rulers and rich merchants used copper inlaid objects. Later gold ans silver was used and the art practised in many Central Islamic lands. The craft was brought to India by a nobleman. Khaja Moinuddin Chishti and his followers to Ajmer in Rajasthan. Much later a craftsman by name Abdullah-bin-Khaiser migrated to Bijapur in the Deccan and taught the craft to local artists. Bidar became a province of the Bahmani kingdom when it established its rule in South India. Sultan Alauddin II Bahamani (1434 -1457 A.D) of Bidar was gifted metal objects during his coronation and he was much impressed. He gave the craft the name Bidari or Bidri. He invited the craftsmen to settle at Bidar itself. They were provided with facilities and comforts so that they could carry on their craft. Thus with royal patronage the craft flourished under the Bahmanis and the later Baridis who ruled from Bidar. It travelled to other centres  from 1770 A.D, of which Lucknow, Purnea and Murshidabad are noteworthy.

Bidar Fort view, Bidar, Karnataka.

 By Tirumala Nalla – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51144313

  Techniques of Bidri making : creativity and skill set

     The karigars or craftsmen used metals in a very imaginative way. The alloy was made out of copper, zinc and lead. The mixture of zinc and copper in of the ratio 16:1. Copper is added to make zinc take the polish better. On this silver or gold was used to make the design by inlaying in different ways. The techniques have Persian terms; tarkashi which means inlay of wire, taihnishan; inlay of sheet, zarnishan; low relief, zarbulund; high relief and aftabi; cut out designs in overlaid metal sheet. The beauty is created through contrast of the silver against a dark background. Silver is white , shiny after polish and malleable and ductile making it suitable for using during  crafting.  The process involved in the production of a Bidri item of art involves casting, polishing, engraving, inlaying and blackening the alloy. Designs are drawn with a fine point and pure silver is hammered into the pattern. The final polish is achieved with sand paper, charcoal and coconut oil. A way of blackening the Bidri object was by using a type of clay found at Bidar fort. A combination of techniques are used to make the final object. The craft is likened to Damascene work or koftgiri  where gold or silver is encrusted on iron objects.

Designs on Bidri : vegetal and floral  inspirations

    The early Bidriware had beautiful Persian motifs. Designs of Middle Eastern origin and Egyptian floral designs were also incorporated. The ashrafi ki booti and teenpatti ki booti patterns are well known. Also kairi or mango, star patterns, vine creepers, poppy plant with flowers, mahi-pusht or fish scale pattern.

Bidar Fort garden, pool has an ornate pattern, Bidar, Karnataka.

By Santosh3397 – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36533037

 There are some awesome specimens of Bidriware now housed in different places across the world. The objects made include huqqa (hubble bubble)  bases, afatabas or ewers, huqqa  mouthpieces, mir-e-farsh or floor-weights, shamadan or candelabras, chilam or firecups,trays, goblets, pandan or  betel boxes, ittardan or perfume boxes, gulabpash or rose water sprinklers, basins, plates and spittoons. More recently there is jewellery, ashtrays, walking sticks, paperweights and USB covers. The craft has gone through ups and downs but rulers across time have always encouraged and revived the craft. It thrives with exports, retailers and online sales. The workshops are now at Hyderabad and Bidar.

   The skilled craftsmen have used Persian motifs on the alloy; local idioms like the lotus and swastika are found too. French influence is seen from the 18th century. Egyptian design also embellished the objects. Thus not only a combination of techniques but also design happened during the journey of the craft. However the main inspiration for designs on Bidriware are flowers and vegetal patterns like the creepers and leaves.

    A beautiful poem by Ernestine Northover captures the essence of the flower in nature and its effects.

Oh, Flower

‘’Oh, flower, open wide your fragrant maze,

Curl back your petals, and greet the sun,

Look up and drink in its glorious rays,

Which will enhance your beauty, just begun.

Oh, flower, with colours of pure rich fire,

You will always radiate a warmth in me,

And your artistry ignites such desire,

That with truth you could be no parody.

Oh, flower, when raindrops touch your face,

And wild winds dictate your waving head,

Your stance will always sustain your grace,

And resplendence be found in your blossoms spread.’’

Woman with flowers, painting, Safavid Persia/Iran, 1575 AD, Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, Washington D.C,U.S.A

By Unknown / Smithsonian Institution [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

           Ceiling design, Rangeen Mahal, 16th century, BIdar Fort, Bidar,Karnataka.

Source : https://www.flickr.com/photos/aloshbennett/4347383785

        The images showcased highlight the different patterns and the brilliant effect on the ware created painstakingly by the Bidri artist and craftsman. In many places a combination of motifs can be seen which enhance the final effect.

  Vine creeper -A farsh-i-huqqa or huqqa base from 18th century depicts vine creepers all over the body of the object to create a brilliant effect.

   Huqqa base, tarkashi and tehnishan technique, Bidar, 18th century.

 Los Angeles County Museum of Art [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Grape vine, image.

 By Lori (Flickr: That’ll need to age a bit yet…) [CC BY-SA 2.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

   Poppy plant and flower : the huqqa bases shown below depict a stylised poppy plant against a dark background. The poppy flower motif has been put to prolific use in Bidricraft.

 

Huqqa base, Bidar or Hyderabad, 18th century.

 Los Angeles County Museum of Art [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 Poppy flowers,images.

 

       In the image below the technique has been reversed. The dark base is made to stand out and the pattern is etched on the sliver sheet. The huqqa base has stylised poppy flowers with circular decorative scrolls towards the top and bottom.

 

 Huqqa base, aftabi and taihnishan technique, Bidar or Hyderabad, 19th Century.

            Los Angeles County Museum of Art [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Huqqa base, gold work on alloy, Bidar, Mughal period, Dallas Museum of Art, U. S. A,17th century.

 By Daderot – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=68723894

 

Huqqa base, Bidar, Karnataka, late 17th century.

By Unknown – Marie-Lan Nguyen (2006), ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕರಿಗೆ ಸೇರಿದ್ದು, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=828340

Pandan or betel-box,  tarkashi technique, stylised poppy and leaf patterns in circles on top, Bidar or Hyderabad,1800.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cypress tree and flowers : the cypress motif is used in some huqqa bases. The flowers and the tree are depicted in stylised forms. The cypress is group of ceratin kind of trees or plants with similar characters. The plant has been often mentioned in poetry too.

 

Huqqa base, Bidar, between circa 1600 and circa 1800.

By © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20355115

                                                                          Cypress tree.

 By pellaea (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Cypress flowers.

 

 

 

 Huqqa base, Bidar, Karnataka, 18th century.

http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00glossarydata/terms/bidri/bidri.html

 Lotus in a pond : The sight of a lotus in a pond is one of nature’s most beautiful sights.             The Bidri artists have captured this in their creations. A salver below depicts the lotus motif; blooming lotuses, lotus buds and lotuses floating on a pond. The border also made of lotuses enhances the beauty of the artwok as does the waterbody depicted as wavy lines.

 

         Salver, Bidri ware, tarkashi and taihnishan technique, Bidar, 17th century.

 

                                                                  Lotus flower, image.

 

Lotus flowers and buds in a pond, image.

 Combination of star and flowers : The salver below depicts a starry concentric pattern with poppy design in the inner circle with alternating leaf motifs.

Salver, Bidri ware (tarkashi and tehnishan techniques),Bidar,17th century.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Concentric star pattten.

Huqqa with irises, late 17th century, MET Museum, USA. 

By This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons by as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See the Image and Data Resources Open Access Policy, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57856153

Iris flower, image.

Plate, Bidar, 17th century.

 By Hiart – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17606820

Aftaba or ewer, Met Museum, New York, 18th century.

By This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons by as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See the Image and Data Resources Open Access Policy, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61138268

Ugaldan or spittoon, tarkashi and tehnishan techniques, Hyderabad, 1850.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  Bidriware cup and lid, Bidar, Karantaka, 1850, V&A Museum, U.K

By VAwebteam at English Wikipedia – http://images.vam.ac.uk/indexplus/page/Home.html, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8500029

     The earliest Bidriware of the 16th centuries are not available, mostly 17th century onwards one gets to study the various types. Over time the ware has changed according to the demands of the people. After the huqqa base, ugladans, sailabchis and aftabas one can see ashtrays, salvers and trays and now small decorative gift itms, jewellery, vases and boxes of different sizes. The craft has seen many ups and downs during its journey but due to the constant efforts of its revival and support by the rulers right from the beginning it still lives ! At present workshops are there at Bidar and Hyderabad. The magic of the objects created seem to be timeless. Only the forms on which the designs have been made have changed and adapted to changing times. Long live Bidri !

Bidriware, various floral motifs, 21st century.

 By Shivapriya Sulgante [CC BY-SA 4.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

Bidriware, different stylised motifs, 21st century.

 By Manjunath Doddamani Gajendragad at en.wikipedia – Source and Author : Manjunath Doddamani, Gajendragad / Hubli, Karnataka(North), India., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17256729

Bidri craftsman, cypress leaf motif on USB,  21st century.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/bidri-art-form-gets-modern-twist/article6292645.ece, August 2014

Kairi (mango) shaped Bidri dibba, 21st century.

Source :  Jaypore.com.

Mango, image.

 

 

References :

  1. Narayan Sen, Catalogue on Damascene and Bidri Art, Indian Museum Calcutta, 1983.
  2. Krishna Lal, Catalogue, National Museum Collection Bidri Ware, National Museum of India, New Delhi, 1990.
  3. Jagdish Mittal, Bidriware and Damascene work in Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, JKMMIA, Hyderabad, 2011.
  4. http://granthaalayah.com/Articles/Vol4Iss3/19_IJRG16_B03_27.pdf
  5. org
  6. Census of India 1961 :Vol II – Andhra Pradesh, Delhi : Manager of   Publications,1967.
  7. Sultans of Deccan India : Opulence and fantasy/Navina Najaf Hyder andMarika Sardar, New York : Met Museum, 2015.

 

Posted by :

 

Soma Ghosh

 

 

©author

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Symbols of Buddhism : ashtamangala depictions

         There are eight auspicious symbols which are revered  in  Buddhism. They are represented together in an ashtamangala. The symbols in early Buddhism included: throne, swastika, hand-print, endless knot, vase of jewels, water libation flask, pair of fishes, lidded bowl. In Buddhism, these eight symbols of good fortune represent the offerings made by the gods to Buddha immediately after his enlightenment.Depictions in art are found in Asian countries wherever Buddhism flourished.

The ashtamangala in Chinese,Tibetan and Nepali Buddhism are  conch, endless knot, two goldfish, lotus,parasol,vase dharmachakra , dhwaja or victory banner.

File:Colossal Parasol with Eight Auspicious Symbols - Circa 1st Century CE - Gita Enclave - ACCN 00-72-5 - Government Museum - Mathura 2013-02-23 5570.JPG

 Eight symbols,1st century,Mathura Museum,Uttar Pradesh.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

8-SIGNS at JDWNRH 1.jpg

Four of the Ashtamangala symbols, Thimpu,Bhutan.

By Christopher J Fynn – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39168187

8-SIGNS at JDWNRH 2.jpg

Four of the Ashtamangala symbols, Thimpu,Bhutan.

By Christopher J Fynn – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39168185

File:Ashtamangala.jpg

Ashtamangala,Hall of Fame, Leh,Laddakh.

By Redtigerxyz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The symbols represent various concepts ; the right turning conch shankha represents the  sound of the dharma, which awakens followers from the deep slumber  of ignorance.

The endless knot Srivatsa is the symbol of the ultimate unity of everything;the intertwining of wisdom and compassion.

The two goldfish or gaurmatsya symbolise the auspiciousness of all beings in a state of fearlessness without danger of drowning in samsara.In Buddhism, the fish symbolise happiness as they have complete freedom of movement in the water.

File:Window Samten-Chöling Tsakaling.jpg

Temple window with symbols,Bhutan.

©Christopher J. Fynn / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

The lotus or padma symbolises purity and renunciation. The lotus flower has its roots in the mud at the bottom of a pond, but its flower lies perfect and unaffected  above the water.

The jewelled parasol or chatraratna represents the protection of beings from harmful forces and influences.

The  vase of treasures  or bumpa represents abundance  health, longevity and  prosperity; similar to the Kumbha or Kalasa in Hindusism.

The dharmachakra or wheel of law represents the Buddha and  the  Dharma teachings.

File:Ceiling of Global Vipassana Pagoda.jpg

Dharmachakra, ceiling, Global Vipassana Pagoda, Mumbai.

Joe Ravi [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       The dhwaja or flag was a military standard of ancient Indian warfare. The symbol represents the Buddha’s victory over the four maras which tried to disturb him on his path to  enlightenment. These hindrances are excessive pride, desire, disturbing emotions and the fear of death.

Door with the ashtamangala symbols,Nepal.

By Christopher J. Fynn (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Decorated tent near lake Qinghai (1).jpg

Decorated tent with symbols,China.

By Popolon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Image result for ashtamangala

Bowl with eight symbols in fencai enamel,Hong Kong Museum of Art,Hong Kong.

By Mk2010 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Invitation card.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ashtamangala symbols,wedding card,Nepal.

See page for author [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Auspicious symbols,wood carving,Tibet.

Source and copyright owner: Tibetan Museum Society [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

References :

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

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author

Saraswati in art : various depictions

 

          The Hindu goddess of learning, wisdom, music,arts is Saraswati. She is part of the Tridevi or trinity of Goddesses of Lakshmi, Saraswati and Parvati. They help the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva  to create, preserve and regenerate the Universe, and are their consorts respectively. She was first mentioned in the Rigveda and is worshipped to the present time. She has been depicted in sculpture and paintings. On Vasant Panchami, young children are initiated into the world of learning by learning how to write alphabets.

The Jainas of Western and Central India revere the Goddess and the Buddhists also consider her as the Goddess of learning. She has believers in Nepal,Vietnam, Indonesia , Myanmar and Japan besides India.

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Goddess Saraswati, Raja Ravi Varma. 19th century.

Raja Ravi Varma [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Goddess Sarasvati LACMA M.84.32.6.jpg

Saraswati ,painting on cloth,Eastern Tibet, Kham region, 18th century ,LACMA,USA.

By Image: http://collections.lacma.org/sites/default/files/remote_images/piction/ma-31970039-O3.jpgGallery: http://collections.lacma.org/node/248719, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27348921

Indian - Sarasvati - Walters 2550.jpg

Saraswati, sculpture, 10th century, Walters Art Museum, USA.

By Walters Art Museum: Home page  Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18788645

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Saraswati, Hoysala sculpture, 13th century,Chennakesava temple , Somanathapura, Karnataka.

By Nagarjun Kandukuru (Flickr: Saraswati Devi) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Figure of Saraswati, Hindu Goddess, standing on a duck Wellcome M0012561.jpg

 Saraswati,  Wellcome images.

See page for author [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Saraswati , Brihadeshwara temple, Gangaikondacholapuram, Tamil Nadu

By Jonathan Freundlich (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Amardas Bhatti (attr.) Ganesha, Saraswati and Jallandharnath, Marwar, ca. 1825, Mehrangarh Museum Trust..jpg

Saraswati, Ganesha in a painting, Marwar, 1825, Rajasthan.

Amardas Bhatti (attr.) Ganesha, Saraswati and Jallandharnath, Marwar, ca. 1825, Mehrangarh Museum Trust.

By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Saraswati, A folio from the Rukmini-Parinaya series , Kotah painting, 1700,Rao Madho Singh Museum Trust, City Palace, Kotah. Rajasthan.  

The legendary scene above depicts a king paying homage to a hermit seated on a bagh chhal in a lovely hermitage. The great respect shown by rulers to holy men can be sensed in this painting thought it deals with a mythological theme. The presence of Vishnu and Saraswati is indicative of the auspiciousness of the occasion and their presence also signifies their showering blessings on the royal personage of the king. The elongation of the figures is a feature derived from Mughal painting during the reign of Aurangzeb.

By Kotah, Rajasthan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Goddess Saraswati is the consort of Brahma who is the creator. She being his consort is the goddess of creative sciences. Music, poetry , learning and language are all attributed to her. She is also called Vach meaning speech.  She is believed to have invented the Sanskrit language and the Devanagari script.

    She is mentioned in the Rigveda as Vach. She is depicted in sculpture and paintings as a beautiful  woman riding a swan or peacock, holding a veena, musical instrument. On Saraswati-puja day, once in a year, scholars, students and  musicians worship her.

Image result for Saraswati images

Saraswati with Lord Brahma, Mallikarjuna Temple, 13th century,Basaralu, Mandya District,Karnataka. 

By Dineshkannambadi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

     The Goddess of learning is believed to have been produced by Lord Brahma who married her. In the Puranas ther is however another story. Once all the three Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva met at Vaikunta for a discussion and from their combined energy a brilliant female from emerged, whom each God wanted to possess. She divided herself into three namely, Saraswati Lakshmi and Parvati.

   She is known and worshipped by other names like Sharada, Pustakadharini,Vidyadayini Hamsavahini and Chaduvula-thalli.

Saraswati wood.jpg

Saraswati, wood carving,Hawaii.

By Copyrighted to Himalayan Academy Publications, Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii. Licensed for Wikipedia under Creative Commons and requires attribution when reproduced., CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1850648

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Saraswati, sculpture.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jepoirrier/2052703080.

Image by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier

        The Goddess is often shown in a white sari seated on a white lotus representing light, knowledge and truth.She is shown as having four arms symbolising manas, buddhi, chitta and ahamkara, that is mind, intellect,creativity and self-consciousness or ego. The hands hold a book or pustaka signifying learning or the vedas, a rosary or mala signifying meditation, a water-container signifying purity and a veena, a musical instrument.

       A swan or hamsa is her vehicle and is seen sitting near her feet. The hamsa is a scared bird who can separate milk and water. This represents the ability to differentiate between good and evil, unreal from the real. A peacock is sometimes shown with Saraswati. The peacock or mayura represents splendour. The Goddess is usually depicted next to a river as she is also known as a river goddess.

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Saraswati, Mysore Painting,19th Century,National Gallery of Modern Art,New Delhi.

By Durgada Krishnappa [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Kalighat pictures Indian gods f.2.jpg

Saraswati ,Kalighat painting, 19th century, Kolkata.

By Unknown – The Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41948586

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Saraswati appears to Yajnavalkya, illustration from a book,University of Toronto, Canada.

Author: Ramanarayanadatta astri Volume: 5 Publisher: [Gorakhpur Geeta Press] Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT Language: Hindi Call number: AAO-3248 Digitizing sponsor: University of Toronto Book contributor: Robarts – University of Toronto Collection: robarts; toronto

By Ramanarayanadatta astri (http://archive.org/details/mahabharat05ramauoft) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Durga-puja-koln-2009-5.JPG

Image of Saraswati, Durga Puja,21st century, Köln (Cologne), Germany.

By Wiki-uk (Own file) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Saraswati f. Strassenpuja.JPG

Goddess Saraswati image, Saraswati puja,21st century, Kolkata

By Christina Kundu (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

References :

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

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33580136

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

By Nagarjun Kandukuru (Flickr: Dancing Lakshmi) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, 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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, 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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, 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

File:Lakshmi-Narayana01.jpg

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

By Miya.m (Miya.m’s file) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, 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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, 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.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

 

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