Indian and Himalayan Art
Mandala of Shiva and ShaktiProbably made in Bhaktapur, Nepal, Asia
Shah Dynasty (1769-present), Mid- to late 18th century
Artist/maker unknown, Nepalese
Colors on cloth
2000-7-2Purchased with the Stella Kramrisch Fund, 2000
LabelIn the center of this large mandala, the Hindu god Shiva and his red-skinned consort Shakti sit in a white palace with a northern-Indian-style curved temple tower rising over them. Female attendants fan the couple, while other gods--multiheaded Brahma and blue-bodied Vishnu--genuflect, thus emphasizing the royal nature of these deities. The palace is cradled by flowering trees that spring from multi-colored mountains.
Around the central scene, four golden gates framed by red women lead outward to a courtyard. In the yellow band beyond the courtyard, ash-covered yogis-posed in attitudes of meditation and penance-are interspersed with eight minor deities who guard the directions of the compass. The yellow band is ringed by another circle filled with a fantastic jungle of jewel-studded trees, flowers, birds, deer, insects, and jackals, as well as lotus ponds and small shrines. Finally, an outer ring of churning water with swimming creatures is bounded by four green hills. Clear blue skies fill the corners of the painting, while a crescent moon in the upper right is delicately reflected in the ring of water below.
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