Gouache painting on paper depicting Gaja-Lakṣmī (Gajalakshmi); an image of the goddess Lakṣmī, who reigns over fertility and good fortune, seated on a lotus with an elephant (gajah in Sanskrit) on either side. They have small wings, a detail which recalls the myth in which the elephants freely roamed throughout the sky. They lustrate water over her from the pitchers they carry in their uplifted trunks. The goddess carries a lotus in her lower-right hand and she wrings her wet hair with her upper pair of hands, while the lower-left hand rests on her lap. Here the group levitates over a sea abundant in lotuses where two further elephants are swimming.
- 1780 (circa)
- Painted in: Bundi District
- (Asia,South Asia,India,Rajasthan,Bundi District)
- Found/Acquired: India
- (Asia,South Asia,India)
- Height: 22.9 centimetres
- Width: 27.7 centimetres
Gaja-Lakṣmī is familiar to both Hindu and early Buddhist art. In Indian literature, the large grey bodies of elephants are likened to the long-awaited rain clouds of the monsoon. This comparison makes elephants an auspicious symbol in Indian art.Dallapiccola 2004:
Originally Lakshmi was a fertility goddess born from the water and connected with dung, cultivation and food. She was later associated with prosperity and became one of Vishnu's consorts.
2012 Sep – 2013 Apr, BM G91, ‘Ritual and revelry: the art of drinking in Asia'
2007 9 Aug-11 Nov, London, BM, Faith, Narrative and Desire: Masterpieces of Indian Painting in the British Museum.
14 June 2012
Reason for treatment
Reattach paper delaminations
Good. Some paper delaminations on lower edge. Undulating, but not protruding above mount. Window mount is a little tired and grubby
Staedtler eraser used on window mount. 4.5% MC inserted into delaminations, and pressed locally
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Object reference number: RFI1725
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