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Homages To The Twenty-One Taras, From Ancient Indian Tantric Texts

Homages To The Twenty-One Taras, From Ancient Indian Tantric Texts

If this thangka were to be an aural experience, as opposed to the visual aid that it is, it would translate to the sound of om tare tuttare ture svaha. It is the mantra of the central figure, the gorgeous Green Tara, who is born of the tears of Avalokiteshvara. Hence She is the embodiment of His compassion, floating in a sea of silks and petals. She is surrounded by twenty-one Tara Devis, each of whom has been expounded in early Indian Tantric texts. These Taras are very important to the singular mandala offering made in monasteries to Green Tara - it is a complex visualisation of the whole universe, in all its beauty and perfection, as an offering to Her.

The name of the Devi is derived from the Sanskrit root of the verb that means 'to ferry across'. So Green Tara is the saviouress, She ferries the devotee across the ocean of samsara to nirvana. She reaches out to us to enable us to transcend the world as we know it, the very picture of Enlightenment in a form that is relatable and beauteous. She is none of and more than the numerous Taras that you could see on this thangka, each with Her own aureole, seated in poorna-padmasana and dressed in raiment fit for the otherworldly devis. They look down at us with infinite compassion and patience, no matter who you choose to fixate on at any given point in time.

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Jet-Black Wedding Long Anarkali Suit with Golden Embroidery and Zardosi Patch

Jet-Black Wedding Long Anarkali Suit with Golden Embroidery and Zardosi Patch

Every woman should have that one statement Anarkali suit in her wardrobe. This style of Indian suits gained a following with the advent of Hindi films depicting Mughal court life (a name or two would come to the minds of all who have a thing for Indian cinema), and derive their name from the iconic nautch-girl who dared to love the prince. In ethnic fashion today they are typified by the accentuating bust, from which cascade volumes of floor-length skirts contained by the thick, red, richly embroidered hemline.

This gorgeous ballgown-esque Anarkali suit is just the thing to wear to parties and gatherings with a traditional spin. The dominant black colour sets the mood of the ensemble to one of reserved and overpowering elegance. The signature bust comprises of black meshwork over a fiery red, more of which is to be found in the embroidery on the full sleeves. Luxuriant patches of zardosi punctuate the ensemble at the waist, along the neckline, down the bust, and at the hems of the sleeves. Zoom in on the same to appreciate the beauty of the Persian-origin silverwork.

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The All-Encompassing Lord Vishnu, The Deity With Skin Like Dusk

The All-Encompassing Lord Vishnu, The Deity With Skin Like Dusk

The Hindu dharm is a complex religion; and Lord Vishnu, its most complex deity. Like all Hindu deities, He is boundless in influence, non-specific in character, and all-embodying as a concept. The form you see here is His parlokiya roopa (heavenly form): tall and handsome, chaturbhujadhari (four-armed) with the signature discus in one them and the conch in another, and a complexion of blue overtones. He is the most serene and compassionate of the devas, which applies to each of the avataras (bodily manifestations) He distills Himself into in order to descend to ihloka (earthly realm). From Narasimha and Parshurama to Krishna and Rama, what is common to each of His avataras is the dusky blue skin and the role of saviour for us mortals.

This murti of the Lord has been cast in bronze. India's bronze sculptural tradition dates back to the Pallava rule in the third century, when it started to produce icons for the magnificent temples of the South. With the later patronage of the Chola dynasty rulers, the skill to work with bronze truly flourished. Today, South India is the home of bronze, this one having been handpicked from Swamimalai. From the tapering crown that towers above His head to the inverted lotus pedestal He is on, this fne sculpture bears all the signs of authentic Southern workmanship. Note the lifelike portraiture of the digits as well as the spiritually engaging composure of countenance.

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The Pensive Elder Daughter-In-Law

The Pensive Elder Daughter-In-Law

It is an evening of ritual gathering and feasting at her home. Perhaps it is a pooja. The elder daughter-in-law of an affluent landowning family, as could be gleaned from the ample gold and jewels on her person, is looking on at the festive bustle. Moments ago, she had excused herself from the elders gathered there, probably on the pretext of briefly supervising the kitchen. She has stopped in the shadows of one of the doors leading into the arena, overcome by a strange womanly emotion. Her family is showing off the new younger daughter-in-law to the guests, which makes her remember her own initial days in the family. What she is feeling is a mix of fondness and envy and jealousy, the kind that only a woman's heart could contain all at the same time.

It is not likely that her younger counterpart is her equal in form. The elder daughter-in-law is an olive-skinned beauty, set off by the shimmering gold-bordered pink of the lehenga she has chosen for the occasion. Her eyes are a soft brown and large, their expression somewhat withdrawn. It is the raised brow and the subtly pursed mouth that betray the goings-on of her heart. It is the norm in large Indian families to fawn over the latest addition by marriage to the clan, in terms that could be either exalting or demeaning and even both. It is the attention being bestowed upon her that is making the subject of this painting a tad out of place. Perhaps she will take it out on her when they are engaged in domestic tasks together, by chiding her on some excusable pretext but also by helping her make herself at home.

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Statement Spikes Necklace With Spike Drop Earrings, Studded With Pink Gems

Statement Spikes Necklace With Spike Drop Earrings, Studded With Pink Gems

Temple jewellery is a thing in India. No other culture in the world has a whole branch of the complex art of jewellery-making devoted to spiritual life. Having evolved in South India, temple jewellery are those that are made especially with an icon of a deva or devi in mind. They are primarily designed to adorn the deities housed in the magnificent temples of the South. They are worn by the mortal devis of ihaloka, of course, to weddings and poojas; however, it is to a distinctive style and appeal that modern-day temple jewellery refers to.

Of that finish and make, this sterling silver set is a fine example. It consists of a three-tiered necklace of silver beads, from which a series of solid silver spikes jut out. It would look superbly elegant as it sits against your decolletage, teamed with those matching drop earrings. Each comprises of a couple of those identical silver spikes smithed together to drop from a complex silver stud. A brilliant pink gemstone of miniscule proportion has been studded at the head of each silver spike in the whole set, infusing to this ensemble a much-needed dash of femininity and colour.

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Eclipse-Blue Kashmiri Carpet with Knotted Flower Vase

Eclipse-Blue Kashmiri Carpet with Knotted Flower Vase

Nothing like a Kashmiri rug to add some personality to your space. Fashioned from pure homegrown silk and finished with rich pastels, this is a one-of-a-kind number. The resham foundation is coloured an inky blue, the kind that characterises the bitterest nights of the Kashmiri winter. The same has been superimposed with knotted stitch embroidery, a technique that is to be found in abundance in the rugs and outerwear produced in the valley, and hemmed in by a strip of shimmering gold brown.

The composite motif of bouqueted foliage conveys a stillness that is also dynamic. Pale greens, blues, oranges, and reds have been interspersed with bits of white and black, each hue being brought out to perfection by the background. Amidst the tips of the tendrils on top flit about a couple of huge butterflies. From the shape of the vase the arrangement is in, it is the kind that is woven at home by grandmothers and grandaunts in Kashmiri homes. Note how one of the tendrils, burdened by a particularly heavy-petalled flower, has broken off and now lies at the foot of the vase.

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Motioning In Dance, The Veenavadini Devi Sarasvati

Motioning In Dance, The Veenavadini Devi Sarasvati

She leaps into the air as Her veena exudes music. Her hips are jutted out, Her delicate anklet-adorned feet in mid-air. She is chaturbhujadhari (four-armed), one of which holds a pothi to indicate Her learning. Her silks and shringar flow about Her as She motions. She is gracious, Her form cast in superlative proportions of the feminine. This dynamic composition is of none other than the Devi Sarasvati, wife of Lord Brahma, presider over learning and the arts (which are a prerequisite to the process of creation, over which He presides). Her name means "one that flows", and indeed learning and art flow from Her like the pristine Northern river named after Her.

The medium captures the Devi's gorgeousness to perfection. An elite medium to work with, bronze has flourished in the hands of Southern sculptors since the Pallava and especially the Chola ruling periods. Today, South India is the home of bronze where the best of contemporary examples of India's great sculptural tradition are put together. Not only does this take a significant degree of skill to work with bronze to produce something like this, but also this composition has been suffused with the artisan's personal devotion. Note the sthirsnigdha composure of countenance, the towering crown that sets off Her stature, and the beauteous angulature of Her limbs. From the vines that frame Her form to the layered lotus pedestal, it bears the hallmark of Southern workmanship.

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The Calm Figure Of Lord Indra, Next To The Fire-Spewing Dragon

The Calm Figure Of Lord Indra, Next To The Fire-Spewing Dragon

Lord Indra is the most popular Vedic deity, having thousands of hymns dedicated to Him in the Rigveda (a text dated 2,000 BC) and a large number of Pauranic stories narrating His valour. He is the supreme Aryan king, of a roopa the colour of marble, set off by a mass of jet black curls spreading about His pristine shoulders. He is seated in His characteristic ardha-padmasana amidst the lush Himalayan landscape on a mountaintop. Beneath Him is a lotus pedestal with multi-hued petals and a red-and-gold velvet back. A bejewelled gold crown with a delicate pink lotus on the brow holds His hair in place. The same is complemented by the rest of the shringar and silks that clothe His divine being.

Every square inch of this thangka comprises of the gorgeous colours and motifs that are to be found in these traditional paintings. Flowers of ethereal shapes and tints grace the religious flora. The leaves have a distinctive shape, so do the clouds and the canopies. The foreground features a series of hills and shrubbery in romantic pastels and a stream of thick Himalayan snowmelt making its way to us mortals down below. A fire-spewing dragon is at the Lord's side, a popular motif in art that belongs to this part of the world. It has a long serpentine body, a vicious set of teeth, and fire in place of brows and whiskers. It is a stark contrast to the calm exuded by the deva by its side.

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Minimalist Gold Pendant Studded With Water Sapphires And Diamonds

Minimalist Gold Pendant Studded With Water Sapphires And Diamonds

This is a minimalistic gold pendant that you could wear with both traditional and contemporary outfits. It will tone down to former if you do not want a look that is too heavy, and glam up the latter. The central gold loop has five smaller diamond-studded loops spaced out evenly across the circumference. From these secondary loops jut out a series of pale purple cordierites set in polished gold. The whole thing is suspended from a stylised gold loop set with more diamonds, through which you could string a gold chain and wear this around your neck.

The glassy, translucent water sapphires that have gone into finishing this pendant have been picked for their brilliance. Cut and faceted to maximise their natural aesthetic appeal, they have been smithed onto the gold with a great degree of skill. While these gems are regarded as a more reasonable substitute to sapphires, cordierites stand in a class all their own because of their durability and pleochroism. Watch heads turn towards your decolletage as you walk in anywhere with this pendant gently motioning against your skin.

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Caviar-Black Baluchari Sari from Bengal Showing the Story of Dushyant and Shakuntala and Love Gods Kamadeva and Rati

Caviar-Black Baluchari Sari from Bengal Showing the Story of Dushyant and Shakuntala and Love Gods Kamadeva and Rati

Drape yourself in a Baluchari silk to make a statement replete with history and art and devotion. Having been woven since the mid-eighteenth century, these figured silks are endemic to Bengal; the Baluchar region in Murshidabad district, to be precise. It is the only Bengali saree to be woven on the drawloom, and features a complicated multi-warp and multi-weft weave. These unique silks are often chosen by the more reserved of Bengali brides as their wedding saree (the Banarasi variety made nearby in eastern Uttar Pradesh being hands-down the more popular choice). The one you see on this page would be a great one to drape on one of the ritual evenings succeeding your phere.

The field of this saree is luxuriantly done up in woven images of the gorgeous Shakuntala in her garden. The rest of the story is in the pallu, as is the norm with Baluchari sarees, where she is shown with Raja Dushyant. More such figures have been woven onto the moderately thick border as well. The inky black of the foundation together with the glimmering gold of the zari in the foreground, makes for a colour combination that you cannot go wrong with. Teamed with your newest gold possessions, this silken number is as bridal as they get.

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