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The Buddha Amoghasiddhi, Surrounded By The Dhyani Buddhas (Tibetan Buddhist Brocadeless Thangka)

The Buddha Amoghasiddhi, Surrounded By The Dhyani Buddhas (Tibetan Buddhist Brocadeless Thangka)

Lord Amoghasiddhi is the abhaya (fearlessness) component of the Buddha, and one of the five dhyani (deep contemplative) Buddhas that He is resolved into. In fact, His right hand is raised in the abhaya mudra, its soft, red palm turned reassuringly towards the thirsting onlooker. He is accomplished (siddha) in His infallibility (amogha), and is known as the Buddha of karmayoga. When taken as a visualisation aid, for which this thangka would be apt, Amoghasiddhi dispels envy and incompetence.


This modern Amoghasiddhi composition leaves out the dual dorje. Instead, His other hand rests gently at the juncture of His padmasana, palm skywards, which is the traditional dhyani (meditative) gesture. The dark olive complexion of the Lord is overlain with streams of gold shringar fit for a Buddha. The large lobes of His ears are graced by bejewelled kundalas. The multi-spired crown on His head befits His heavenly majesty.


He is seated on a bed of gorgeously coloured lotus petals. Surrounding the dominant central figure of Amoghasiddhi are the rest of the dhyani Buddhas - Akshobhya, Amitabha, Ratnasambhava, and Vairochana, each differentiated by the colour of His skin and the mudra of His hands. He is flanked by none other than the tall, beauteous Devis named Tara. They are the queens of the Buddhist paraloka, and the the wives of Amoghasiddhi.

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Linden-Green Brocaded Hadloom Kora Sari from Banaras with Diamond Weave and Zari Pallu

Linden-Green Brocaded Hadloom Kora Sari from Banaras with Diamond Weave and Zari Pallu

The texture of raw homegrown silk is very different from the soft, lush varieties that is the contemporary favourite. The one you see on this page is fashioned from kora silk in Banaras, the home of decorative Indian brocades. It comes with a miniscule diamond-shaped weave (best zoomed in on in the field of the saree), that adds to its heavy and traditional appeal. Note the translucence that lies beneath the muted, shimmering green.


Setting off the unusual tint of green is the flaming scarlet endpiece. The entirety of it has been embroidered with dense proportions of the Banaras-famous zariwork (gold thread embroidery) and finished with a thick brocaded border of matching diamond-weave. The border along the rest of the saree is a gold-coloured one interwoven with sweet purple flowers. Hints of a pale, feminine pink emerge in the endpiece as you motion it against the light. A saree such as this deserves the best of your diamonds.

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The Quiet, Dhyani Buddha

The Quiet, Dhyani Buddha

The Buddha is steeped in dhyana. His poorna padmasana causes His robe to gather in wave-like pleats around His long, gracious limbs.
The composure of His countenance is one of equanimity, egolessness, and desirelessness. So skilfully polished is the skin on the large lids of thos shut eyes and the half-bared torso, that it glows with a finish only possible for the medium of wood.
His curls crop close on His albatross brow. The lobes of His large ears touch and blend in with His broad, princely shoulders.


The mudra of His hands stand for the cyclical (chakra) nature of dharma. In fact, whilst delivering the historic Sarnath sermon, He had assumed the dharmachakra mudra to convey its gravity.
The calm, seated figure is flanked by a pair of miniature stupas, which contain a world of blessings and prayers already answered.


The pedestal the Lord is seated on is engraved with lotus petals. The symbol of compassion, each petal and the space between petals have been carved with skillful attention to detail. It is propped up on three-tiered legs that resemble the shape of Tibetan Buddhist stupas.
From the Lord’s halo emerges a plethora of snakes, the viciousness of their presence neutralised by the gentle hamsas on the edge of the aureole.
The gorgeous latticeworked aureole, with its curvaceous tendrils and leafy protrusions, completes the composition.

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The Tender-Faced Bodhisattva Manjushri

The Tender-Faced Bodhisattva Manjushri

Four pillars uphold the idea of Bodhisattvahood in Buddhism. Together with Avalokiteshvara, Kshitigarbha, and Samantabhadra, Bodhisattva Manjushri rules over all bodhisattvas. He is a deity of gentle bearing, characterised by a composure of supreme calm. Zoom in on the sweet face of the Bodhisattva in this thangka. Despite the weapons in His hands and the decisive stance of the arms that wield them, He looks on at the world with a gaze that is warm and profoundly comforting.


His skin is an arresting scarlet colour. Each of His three heads bears a five-spired crown and kundalas dangling from earlobes lengthened by lifetimes of sadhana and accumulated wisdom. His characteristic sword cuts through clouds of avidya (ignorance) and in one of His six hands He holds a manuscript of the Prajnaparamita. The pastel-coloured silks that clothe the Bodhisattva, the tender pink lotus of the pedestal, and the ice-blue fire-spewing creature He is seated on, make for a signature thangka-style colour palette.


At the ends of His aureole sit His two wives, the fairest, most well-endowed beings of the Buddhist paraloka. Across the aureole itself is painted a world of mythical creatures, culminating in a cherub of the tantric world. The peach-coloured lotuses peeking out from the edge of the aureole and the deep blue sky beyond, serve to tone down the aura of these creatures.

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Diva-Blue Baluchari Sari from Bengal with Woven Wedding Rituals on Pallu

Diva-Blue Baluchari Sari from Bengal with Woven Wedding Rituals on Pallu

The Baluchari is the most sumptuous saree of the delta region. In fact, up until the nearby Banarasi brocades caught up with regional fashion, a Baluchari was the quintessential wedding saree for the Bengali bride. The one that you see on this page bears all the hallmarks of a quality Baluchari saree. It comes from the local drawlooms of the Baluchar village of Bengal, and is fashioned from a silk whose texture will make you want to never take this off.

The rich azure base colour of this saree is a distinctive hue, which makes this a fit number to be worn on one of the post-wedding rituals. A Bengali bride motif - white saree, red border, garland in her hands - is woven across the field. The endpiece is woven in with panel after panel of motifs, each depicting a particular episode of the bridal journey. Same goes for the moderately thick border that hems in the gorgeous foundation blue. An unconventional Baluchari, this saree would be a great pick for the bride’s sister or best friend.

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Lord Nagarjuna, The Saint That Emerged From The Serpent Kingdom

Lord Nagarjuna, The Saint That Emerged From The Serpent Kingdom

Legend has it that upon the renunciation of a great Brahmin-born Buddhist yogi, an invitation came for Him from the serpent-kingdom (naga-rajya) that is said to exist on the ocean bed. It is there that the great Prajnaparamita Sootras were revealed to Him. He returned to the world with that knowledge, upon which He came to be known as Nagarjuna (‘arjuna’ conveys ‘nobility’). Hence, the snake with a multitude of serpents is an integral aspect of the iconography of this Buddhist saint.


Lord Nagarjuna is held second only to the Shakyamuni Buddha, which explains His form as captured in this composition. He is seated in a rudimental bhadrasana, His hands in the dharmachakra mudra. This mudra conveys the quintessential Indian philosophy of the existential vyooha (cycle). From the drape of His robe to the tresses coiled atop His head and the kundalas tugging down at His earlobes, Nagarjuna is the very image of enlightenment.
In keeping with the norms of the Nepalese sculptural tradition, the subject is seated on a lotus pedestal. The petals are turned downward, as if drooping from the weight of wisdom-dew. In fact, it is profound wisdom (vivekakhyatiraviplava) that pours forth from His countenance. It is a composure of invincible calm and untramelled bliss. It is a fine example of the region’s devotional handiwork, especially in a select medium such as copper.

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By The Unnaturally Quiet River

By The Unnaturally Quiet River

It is in the dead of night that the divine lovers meet. The full moon is high in the sky, shining down on their togetherness as they cling to each other, seated on the dew-drenched grass. They are under a tree with luscious, flowery sprigs descending upon them. The stream in the foreground is exceptionally quiet, perhaps out of chaste reserve inspired by the nearby sounds of passionate intimacy. Till the verdant mounds as far as the eye could see, there is not a single source of aural disharmony.


The entire range of Radha-Krishna’s amorous experience is a popular subject with Indian painters and sculptors. This watercolour, painted with as much shraddha (devotion) as skill, captures the timeless lovers in the throes of uncontrollable emotion. Lord Krishna draws back Radha against Himself, and tilts Her sweet head back such that their mouths are on the verge of meeting. In turn, She clutches at His black curls in order to draw Him closer, resisting Her Lord being beyond Her nature.


The only sounds other than those of desire are the rustling of His yellow silk dhoti and the soft friction of Her shringar as He motions Her. Their eyes are unshut - they are looking into each other’s through the dusk of the hour, as alluring as the unmistakable colour of His skin.

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Tie-Dye Bandhani Dupatta From Gujarat with Woven Border and Chakra

Tie-Dye Bandhani Dupatta From Gujarat with Woven Border and Chakra

Every lover of ethnic fashion should have a collection of these flowy folk dupattas. Made from cotton so pure it is sheer and tie-dyed using techniques endemic to the Kutch region, this dupatta comes in a series of dark pastels that would go amazingly well with a wide palette of Indian suits. The bandhani on this dupatta is irresistibly pretty, having been executed skilfully and finished with great care.
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The Calming Gaze Of Padmavati Lakshmi

The Calming Gaze Of Padmavati Lakshmi

The Devi Lakshmi is one of the most popular and highly venerated of Hindu devies. She is wife to Vishnu Himself, and presides over resources and wealth, which are prerequisites to the creation process that He is responsible for. She is sought after by the devotee who is in pursuit of wealth, and it is said that She is very generous with the ones She chooses for their industriousness and good sense. As could be seen from this multi-variation brass sculpture, Her form is unspeakably beautiful while Her countenance exudes superlative bliss. Together with the palms of Her hands and the digits, the face is that part of the composition that commands the highest degree of skill. A few sharp curves have been engraved onto the gracious round shape to convey a divine composure.

Indeed the shringar that has been sculpted on this statue is fit for a queen. Layers of necklaces cascading down Her torso from between Her breasts, chunky amulets and anklets that clothe the exposed parts of Her limbs, and a tall ornate crown set off by a lotus-petalled halo and kundalas that graze Her shoulders. She holds in Her posterior hands lotuses that are about to bloom (the word 'padmavati' means one in possession of lotuses), while Her anterior hands are raised in blessing. She stands on a pedestal that is atypical of Indian iconography: two lotuses with the backs of their pistils together, the one blooming upward cradling the Devi's feet.

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In Two Minds About The Pearl Necklace

In Two Minds About The Pearl Necklace

She is tall and comes with an irresistibly full figure. The fair complexion of her decolletage and lower torso glows in the gold of the evening’s lamplight. A chunky gold necklace studded with rubies and emeralds clasps the base of her gentle throat. Matching gold jhumke (danglers) bring out the youthful allure of her jawline. She is gazing straight into the mirror as she fingers the white pearl necklace on her bosom.


She is in two minds about making it part of her all-important shringar. She is wearing a scarlet lehenga with a low-cut, high-wing choli so tight, it seems as if it has been sewn around the gracious curves of her body. The gold of the brocade along the edges of the fabric almost blend in with the colour of her skin. There is a small wooden jewellery-box on the table before her, a necklace having dropped out of it. Clearly, she is trying on necklace after necklace to see which would best complement the one she is already wearing. In fact, she has thrown back the bootidar pink dupatta of her ensemble in order to facilitate the process.


However, it is not the stream of white pearls she has donned in the moment. Her pretty face, with those pursed lips and carefully kohl-lined eyes as large as her mangtika, wears an unimpressed expression.

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