This phallic representation of the god Shiva appears as a columnar head placed on a base with two rounded moldings on top of a series of square ones. His neck is fully cylindrical and the face is modeled on that cylinder. The eyes are wide open and a bow shaped eyebrow curves over them. He has a flared nose and luxuriant moustache over a narrow but full lips and a short ball like chin. A ‘U’ shaped element consisting of lines and a pearl motif probably represents his beard, perhaps held up in a tight net. His forehead is decorated with three raise lines that go straight across and his crown is basically flat over his hear decorated with a bunch of peak forms in the center with a finial surmounting the whole. His ears fan out almost like handles to a jar and are decorated with stylized arabesques. A five-headed snake hood rises behind the head and has a rib down its center and scale motives incised towards the bottom an ‘S’ shapes t denote the cobra ‘eyes’ to each side.
Shiva is often worshipped in his aniconic form of the linga, a representation of the creative power of the phallus. Often the form is quite abstract, being a simple shaft with lines representing a formalized glans penis. But in many cases the shaft is decorated with a face of the god, mukha meaning head and can be seen as eka (one) or sometimes at catur (four) facing the cardinal directions: hence we find ekamukhalingas and caturmukhalingas as well as lingas that are totally plain. A snake hood acting as a canopy over the linga is also very common, adding sanctity to the image. Snake symbolism reflects ancient pre-Hindu religious practice and was absorbed into a number of religions that developed in India.
This is a brightly colored painting on a light background. It depicts a three- tiered scene with several figures, standing and kneeling, looking toward a central seated figure in the top tier. This male figure is seated in lotus position on a throne, decorated with colorful designs. To his left and right are attendants who fan him. In the middle tier, there is a nude man with long hair, a kneeling woman and a figure who is half-man and half-serpent. In the bottom tier, there are two kneeling men, wearing robes and headdresses, with hands pressed together and eyes gazing upward toward the main figure. They are surrounded by a tiger, a bird, an insect and a serpent.
The dedication of sacred manuscript books for shrines is required of Jain devotees, and book production reflects the integral relationship among the laity, monastic community, and the Jina. Commissioning a book fulfills the lay obligation of charity, while beholding a book helps the individual achieve the proper mental state for spiritual guidance.
Jina are always depicted standing or seated in padmasana pose. This painting shows a “sky-clad,” or nude, Jina meditating peacefully with his legs crossed. All other figures in the image appear in full profile—a style that became popular by the end of the sixteenth century due to contact with Mughal art and its traditions of naturalistic portraiture. Seated below the Jina is a monk with a bookstand before him, indicating that he is teaching the royal patrons across from him.
The four-armed Vishnu is shown lying on the serpent Ananta (“the endless one”), resting on the surface of the cosmic ocean. As his female consort gently strokes his leg, Vishnu awakens from a long sleep. From his navel sprouts a lotus, bearing the four-headed creator god, Brahma, who will begin a new cycle of the universe.
The Markandeya Purana is one of the puranas, a series of texts compiled by about the fifth century C.E. that relate narratives about the Hindu gods and embody centuries of traditional wisdom. Part of the Markandeya Purana is said to be an account of the visions of the sage Markandeya, including this scene of the moment of creation of the world.
This painting is one of three in the Museum’s collection that were originally part of a single long vertical scroll that would have been carried from village to village by itinerant storytellers. The storyteller would unroll one large scene each evening and vocally re-enact the scene, interspersing a traditional recitation about the gods with current village gossip. The fact that the painting is purpose-made for oral recitation allows the artist to create a more complex composition, with many imbedded subplots. The large scale, simplified drawing, and bold colors make this painting especially appropriate for outdoor viewing from a distance.