Holy family - Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha, Karttikeya and their Mounts

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Holy family - Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha, Karttikeya and their Mounts
Late 18th Century

Place of Origin: Garhwal, Pahari
Materials: Paper,
Dimensions: L: 53 W: 26.5 cm
Acc. No. 63.1450

The painting represents, within an enclosure consisting of hills, a part of Himalayas, obviously Mount Kailash, Shiva's regular abode, the five faced and four-armed Lord Shiva as Sadashiva, seated in 'padmasana' - cross-legged, over a wide-spread full blown lotus, Parvati with folded hands on his left, the six-faced Karttikeya and the elephant faced Ganesha, on his right, and their mounts, Shiva's Nandi, Parvati's lion, Karttikeya's peacock and Ganesha's mouse, in the foreground. This vision of the Shiva family, both with Shiva, normally one faced or the five-faced Sadashiva, is revered in the Shaivite iconographic tradition as the Holy family. The extended Holy family also includes Banasura and Virabhadra, one, Shiva's devotee, and other, the manifestation of his wrath, both adopted by Shiva and Parvati as their sons.

The enclosure that the artist has carved out of a hilly terrain with tall hills around protecting from sharp winds, with space enough for accommodating the Holy family, neither less nor more, affords to the painting its rare scenic distinction. Shiva clad in tiger skin around his groins, carrying in one of his four hands a battle-axe, and in another, a large bowl containing some eatable, and the other two, held in gestures of release and protection, is seated in 'Yogasana'. The normally conceived image of Parvati, represented as wearing a red 'lehenga' with extra flare, a yellow blouse and black 'odhini', is seated with folded hands close to Lord Shiva on his left. The golden hued Karttikeya is clad in deep yellow, and red-hued Ganesha, in green. A rich saddle-cloth protects Nandi from the extremity of winter, though other mounts are bare-bodied except a fire ablaze in the centre affording warmth to all.

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