- Museum number
Gouache painting on paper from an album of eighty-two paintings of Hindu deities. Viṣṇu, shown here as Kūrma, supports Mount Mandara on his shell, around which the five-headed serpent Vásuki is coiled. At the summit of the mountain is a temple topped by a golden roof on which are four golden kalashas. Near the heads of Vásuki stands a dark skinned figure sporting a Shaiva tripundra (three lines) on his forehead and a moustache, clad in short trousers. Near its tail is Vali, with a Vaishnava namam (emblem), dressed in courtly attire and wearing a crown. These two figures represent the asuras and devas who pull Vásuki's head and tail.
- Production date
- 1850 (circa)
Height: 32.40 centimetres (page)
Width: 29 centimetres (page)
- Curator's comments
- Dallapiccola 2010:
Surprisingly, there is no hint here of a seascape, or of the many precious objects recovered during the churning of the ocean. This drawing refers to an incident narrated in the Kishkindha kanda of Kamban’s Ramayana: during the churning of the ocean, owing to the friction Mount Mandara lost its shape and Vásuki spat fire. Vali, to whom Siva gave superhuman strength, completed the churning singlehanded.
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
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Churning of the Ocean
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Daśávatára
- Acquisition date
- Registration number