- Museum number
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.
- Production date
- 1780 (circa)
Height: 22.90 centimetres
Width: 27.70 centimetres
- Curator's comments
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.
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.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
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.
- Acquisition date
- Registration number