A small fragment of a larger cloth, of unknown function. The base is a plain-weave cotton, now a faded red, and the woven brocade design is of densely-packed, alternating rows of 'boteh' (paisley) patterns.
Object Creation Date
Medium and Support
plain weave cotton, madder dye and metallic thread
This small rectangle of fabric is a fragment, possibly the border edge, of a larger cloth of unknown function. The support is a plain-weave cotton dyed an intense red, overlaid with embroidery in many colors and with tiny, inset mirrors.
This is a rectangular fragment of a larger garment, probably a shawl, woven from very fine woolen threads with a white/natural ground and alternating rows of intricately detailed 'boteh' (paisley) patterns in red and blue.
In this idyllic scene, the goddess Parvati offers her husband Shiva a drink, as they enjoy a quiet moment together. Their children, the elephant-headed Ganesha and Skanda, play inside a tent made from the hide of an elephant demon that Shiva had slain. Both parents are clothed in animal skins, the garb of mountain-dwelling ascetics, while Shiva is further adorned with a long necklace of skulls and a snake.
Shiva sits with his consort on a double lotus pedestal. He has six arms, his right three are in varada mudra [a giving gesture], holds a rosary and an arrow. His left arms cup his consorts left breast and hold a lotus flower and a bow. He sits in royal ease, with one leg pendant. He wears bracelets, armlets, necklaces, earrings, and a sacred thread that stretches form his left shoulder down past his waist. On his head he wears an elaborate jatamukuta, a crown interlaced with his matted locks. Parvati sits upon his knee with one leg tucked under her and the other pendant. She is also adorned with jewelry, but wears a more modest diadem at the front of her head.
Râmâyana manuscript page: Rama kills the deer (folio no. 31)
India, Central India, Malwa School
The artist has captured the story of the deer hunt with the fewest possible elements, in a way that is instantly recognizable and yet takes liberties with the classical tale. The forest is represented by two trees and a few sprays of foliage; the deer is a mundane gray, not magical gold; and Sita waits anxiously in a white marble pavilion, rather than a thatched hut. The vibrantly colored backgrounds divide the composition into zones that create mood and organize the narrative.
Fresh greens for the foliage and dark blue clouds sprinkled with lightning set the rain celebration scene. Court ladies have gathered on the lawn, and some swing under a blossoming tree, while the raja and a woman watch the exciement below from a balcony of his white palace.
Mahâbhârata manuscript page: The birth of the Kauravas
Artist Unknown, India, Gujarat
A scene takes place in a red box, lined with black and red diamond and triangle designs for borders. In the center, a woman sites with a child in her lap. She wears a spotted dress, her hair up, and a nose ring and bindi. The child reaches one hand and places it atop her head, and the other down towards her own upward hands. Surrounding them are seven other figures. One kneels before them, offering his hands up, and another fans the woman from behind. The remaining five figures seem to play together in front of the throne on which the woman and child sit.
This work is a double-sided page from a bound album. The painting, depicting a Hindu ascetic walking with his dog in a pastoral landscape, has been placed in a border, decorated with a floral scroll painted in gold on a blue or pale orange ground; a similar border surrounds a calligraphy panel on the reverse side. The border and the calligraphy panel are both somewhat later in date than the painting itself.
The painting of the ascetic and his dog is pasted onto an album page. It is surrounded by a series of gold floral borders alternating blue and saffron-colored backgrounds. Wearing a brown poncho-like garment and carrying a fan in his right hand and a bag of his belongings, the lead attached to his white dog, and some tools in his left, he strides through the landscape. He wears sandals and has long brown matted locks of hair and a graying beard. The landscape consists of intersecting rounded forms in shades of green and yellow, surmounted by trees along the top and with a larger blue-foliaged tree to the right near the horizon. At the bottom a diagonal of yellowish rise of land with clumps of grass suggests some depth and a foreground, but the figure is quite flat in the middle ground.
On the back of the page is a Panel of calligraphy consisting of a quatrain in Shah Jahan's handwriting signed "Sultân Khurram [his given name before he took the name Shah Jahan upon becoming emperor" and dated 1020/1611-12. This is also surrounded by elaborate borders.
The lady stands against a bright green background with only a hint of physical setting. There are some ground lines at her feet with springs of red flowers and a simple stylized willow tree that curves around the figure. She stands with her body turning towards her right with her head in profile. She lifts a flower up in her right hand and hangs her left arms down past her waste. She wears tight lavender colored trousers with a diaphanous skirt covering them with a gold and colored brocaded scarf hanging down the center. Her breasts appear bare, but actually the blouse is also sheer, with a darker color at the shoulders and below her breasts. She wears gold brocade slippers and wide bracelets with black pompoms and rings, necklaces, earrings and a scarf hangs from her shoulders. A gold turban with a black aigrette crowns her. The portrait is framed with some gold and black lines and placed on a simple, buff colored border. An inscription in nastaliq‘ script is above the painting.
The horizontal folio from a Kalpasutra manuscript consists of seven lines of text to the left and center broken by a squarish gold symbol framed in a red line and cusped blue lines. Gold diamond shapes framed in red are at the sides, with a vertical red line between the one on the left and the text. Between the text and the right diamond shape there is a painting consisting of three registers of figures against a red ground. The top row depicts three laymen wearing crowns, the middle two monks and a nun and the bottom row three nuns.
Vishnu stands with a slight sway to his body with his right hip thrust out, the tribhangha of “thrice bent pose.” He has four hands to carry his attributes, his front two hold a lotus bud and a conch. The back two hang down and rather than carry his two weapons are placed on personified figures of them. At is right is the personified club and on his left his discus. He wears a diaphanous lower cloth that is so sheer, it appears almost invisible, only the folds of the garment are articulated. He wears a long garland down almost to his feet and a sacred thread to his waist. He also wears various pieces of jewelry, including armlets, large earrings and an elaborate crown. The whole is quite worn due to the way the image has been handled by devotees, who have touched it and applied various substances to it. His eyes had been inlayed with silver to add a certain realism to the piece.
Scene from the life of the Buddha: Buddha triumphs over the fire snake at the Fire Temple of Uruvilva Kasyapa (architectural fragment)
Artist Unknown,Gandhara (ancient Pakistan and Afghanistan)
A fragment of a stone slab, originally a facing on the drum of a small stupa, carved with a narrative scene. In this relief, he is converting devotees of the fire god Agni, the three ascetic Kasyapa brothers and their disciples. In this narrative, the Buddha asked to spend the night in the fire temple of Uruvilva Kasyapa. The temple’s fire god worshipers thought the fearsome fire serpent that dwelled within the temple would vanquish the Buddha. Instead, the fiery radiance of the meditating Buddha overwhelmed the serpent, who crawled into the Buddha’s alms bowl; the defeated snake appears in this sculpture below the Buddha. Meanwhile, the dazzling radiance the Buddha emits has been mistaken for flames and a fire brigade using ladders and pots of water has been formed to put out the fire, as can be seen here. Seated in the posture and gesture of meditation, the Buddha’s calm presence is in contrast to the action unfolding around him. The three Kasyapa brothers, with their beards and matted hair, are at the bottom directing it all – two are on the right and the other is seated at the far left.
Ambika sits above her stylized lion mount with a long body and with its tail curled to add support to the seated figure above. She sits with one leg pendant. She has four arms, the back two hold stylized mango clusters and her front right hand holds a large mango. Her left-hand cups a child seated on her left knee. Another child stands on the base to her right. The backing takes on a throne-like form, but she appears to float in front of it, the square-ish base is pierced and the arch of the back is surmounted by an auspicious pot form with leaves creating a volute shape to either side. The sculpture is solid brass, but the eyes and an ornament in her headdress are inlayed with silver.