- Museum number
Gouache painting on paper from an album of eighty-two paintings of Hindu deities. Śiva emerging from a pillar of fire having split it apart. In his upper right hand is the parashu (axe), in his upper left the mriga (gazelle), his lower right hand is in abhaya and his lower left in varada mudra. A short lower garment covers his thighs while his calves are engulfed by tongues of fire. On Śiva’s right stands the three-headed and four-armed Brahmā, and to his left is the four-armed Viṣṇu. Brahmā carries in his upper hands the mala (string of beads) and the kamandalu (water vessel) and his lower hands are in anjali mudra; Viṣṇu carries in his upper hands the chakra (discus) and the shankha (conch), with his lower hands in anjali mudra. At the bottom right corner of the page is a boar. At the top left corner is the hamsa (goose), and a petal or leaf floats in the air.
- Production date
- 1850 (circa)
Height: 32.40 centimetres (page)
Width: 29 centimetres (page)
- Curator's comments
- Dallapiccola 2010:
The detail of the flower or leaf is interesting: according to the traditional story, Brahmā produced the flower in order to persuade Viṣṇu that he had found the top of the fiery pillar, whereas he had simply caught the flower as it fell from the top of the immensurable linga. A depiction of this detail is rarely found, but one example is at Srisailam, among the carvings of the enclosure wall of the Mallikarjuna temple. In this rendering of the incident, the linga is not shown and Śiva emerges from a pillar of fire split asunder, similar to the traditional iconography of Narasimha emerging from the pillar to kill Hiranyakashipu.
This album of eighty-two paintings of Hindu deities is bound in a wooden cover carved with the image of a female figure playing a vina, surrounded by a creeper. It comprises of an almost equal number of Vaishnava and Shaiva themes, a complete set of images of the ashtadikpalas, and a group of murtis (sacred images of a deity) worshipped in specific temples. The exceptional feature of this work is the inclusion of a group of grama devatas, local deities worshipped in rural areas.
The album contains a number of images of murtis worshipped at specific sites, and the geographical distribution of these sites and the presence of local deities such as Kattavarayan, might indicate that this album was produced either in north or central Tamil Nadu.
The paintings are inscribed with French captions, which are carefully written by two different hands, one of which appears only very occasionally. The text of the captions gives only the name of the depicted deity and, if necessary, a short explanation of the illustrated incident. A few inscriptions are not accurate. The names have been phonetically transcribed to suit the French pronunciation of Indian names.
The artist is conversant with an almost ‘impressionistic’ brushwork style, used consistently in rendering the crowns of the trees, which is at odds with the stiff and formal treatment used in the drawings of the deities, imitating the style of woodcut prints of the mid to late nineteenth century. The figures are somewhat heavily built, with the draping of their clothing emphasized.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number