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  • Thumbnail for Ellora Hindu Caves, wedding of Shiva and Parvati
    Ellora Hindu Caves, wedding of Shiva and Parvati

    Shiva takes Parvati's hand to lead her around the sacred fire to solemnize their wedding. Attending the ceremony are dozens of celestial apsaras and gandharvas to dance and sing, as well as Brahma and Vishnu at Shiva's left. The couple standing next to Parvati may be her parents, Himalaya and Meena.

  • Thumbnail for Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah, black yoni
    Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah, black yoni

    In the courtyard of the dargah is this black stone yoni with a hole where a linga would have been attached. According to local legend, this dargah was erected on land that had previousy supported a Hindu Temple. The Muslim builders were able to remove the linga but the yoni base was too heavy and too firmly entrenched in the ground to move. The dargah was built and this Hindu symbol of female divine energy remains in the courtyard as a reminder of past history.

  • Thumbnail for Bhajan singing 2
    Bhajan singing 2

    As noted in the description for Bhajan singing 1, audience members as well as singers are wrapped in woolen shawls enjoying the devotional songs in the winter night air.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, painted Shiva Nataraj
    Kailash Cave Temple, painted Shiva Nataraj

    A brightly painted image on an inside pillar in the area outside the inner sanctum presents a lively image of the dancing Shiva Nataraj. In some parts of the temple, the ancient pigments seem to have been preserved, probably due to their placement in areas protected from the elements.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Datta Temple, gray Makara
    Ellora, Datta Temple, gray Makara

    On a pillar of the temple is this gray makara, a mythical aquatic beast associated with the Ganges gharial, a species of crocodile. The makara is associated with Kamadeva, god of desire, as well as the goddess Ganga and the Vedic god of the sea, Varuna.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, amorous couple 1
    Kailash Cave Temple, amorous couple 1

    Auspicious figures of amorous couples in small stone niches adorn the magnificent Kailash Cave Temple, cave #16 in the series of Ellora Caves. These figures represent fertility and good fortune for all who see them.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, Manu Stambha
    Kailash Cave Temple, Manu Stambha

    The Manu Stambha stands just inside the temple courtyard.

  • Thumbnail for Indian Text Written on Palm Leaves entitled: Rahasya (Mystery) (leaves spread out)
    Indian Text Written on Palm Leaves entitled: Rahasya (Mystery) (leaves spread out)

    Width: 37 cm. Material: wood and green palm leaves; housed in a silk-covered hammered metal cylinder Date of text, 18th century; container possibly Chinese made later to house this document. This Sanskrit text is entitled “Rahasya†or Mystery and it is ascribed to Brahma. The Mystery contains religious legends. The Mystery is written on palm leaves in Grantham characters. The palm leaves were allowed to yellow to make the written characters more visible.

  • Thumbnail for Santali tribal figure of Shiva, base for Kali figure - detail
    Santali tribal figure of Shiva, base for Kali figure - detail

    Cast bronze with gilding, 25 x 9.25 inches. Santali refers to tribal groups; sometimes it is used to mean tribes of a certain region, but it is also used generically to reference tribals, that is, indigenous Indian peoples who were never fully assimilated into Hindu India. In this sense, images such as these are relevant to discussions of the caste or varna system of South Asia and the official government policy of reservation for Untouchables, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes that formed a part of the Constitution of the Republic of India. This is comparable to what in the US would be called Affirmative Action, but with much more specific initiatives. The notion that there are indigenous peoples of India who are regarded as having inhabited the subcontinent prior to the appearance of the Aryan tribes who brought their Sanskritic traditions can provide provocative possibilities for discussion in a range of disciplines (Religious Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, History, Art History). These are relatively large (Ganesha is over 3 ft. in height; Siva-Kali about 2 feet) and quite handsome pieces which follow more or less standard Hindu iconographic schemes (the Hindu deities Siva, Kali, Ganesha) but in style depart from the styles of sculpture practiced in Hindu states and courts. Thus they lend themselves to discussions of standard Hindu iconography as well as to the nature of tribal traditions in South Asia; they could also generate interesting discussions of 'classical' versus 'tribal' in Asian art: what makes a work 'folk' art (that is, its origin, its makers or patrons, its formal qualities?). And how have these traditions come to intersect and interact in the last century? While these are designated as 19th century they may in fact be more recent in manufacture.

  • Thumbnail for Standing female figure wearing skirt and headdress - closeup view
    Standing female figure wearing skirt and headdress - closeup view

    Wood-carved with added white paint.This handsome figure is another Manderman folk piece. She seems to most closely resemble what are often called bhuta figures from 19th-20th-century Karnataka. Bhuta is another term that is used in various ways; in the orthodox tradition it has meaning associated with ghosts, with evil forces, with potentially malevolent spirits. Bhuta has been used as a term to signify those malevolent spritis outside the orthodox traditions of Hinduism and thus has also come to signifiy, more generically, folk deities, powerful forces outside the pantheon of the Hindu tradition; but in this sense these are not necessarily malevolent or destructive; rather they are beings/ forces/ spirits of limited and often highly localized powers. What this figure shares with other Karnataka figures that have been termed bhutas are the material and general form: she is made of wood, rather simply carved, with a strongly stylized, geometric body. Her body is contructed of a series of geometric shapes, with tubular arms, a cylindrical trunk pinched at the waist, her face strongly circular with large ears that project at a direct perpendicular from the cheeks. The details of the face are simplified in a manner that is shared with the marble Jina. There are several details that set this figure apart from better-known so-called bhutas from Karnataka: she seems to wear a garment that covers her upper body, a feature quite unusual in the depiction of females in Indian art in general and in typical bhutas from Karnataka, in which the upper body is also usually nude except for jewelry; her skirt falls in wide gores with only a few folds, while in most bhuta figures from Karnataka the skirt is rendered in a continuous series of thin folds that create a more detailed pattern of vertical forms along the lower body; and rarely are typical Karnataka bhutas painted, as this figure is. Further research may suggest a different provenance, as wooden 'folk' figures hail from many regions.

  • Thumbnail for Vishnu and Sridevi
    Vishnu and Sridevi

    Recombined copper alloy figures of Vishnu and Sridevi showing how they would have originally looked as a pair. Sridevi is the consort of Vishnu.

  • Thumbnail for Leather shadow puppet
    Leather shadow puppet

    An unidentified male hero. The only iconographic clue to his specific identity is his dark color, which suggests that this may have served as an image of Kresna (Krishna) in the Mahabharata epic.

  • Thumbnail for Bronze Venugopala Krishna
    Bronze Venugopala Krishna

    This item has been provided with a separate “flute†that is not part of the original design. The wear on the figure indicates many decades of worship (puja). Given its size it was probably used in the household shrine of a prosperous family. For instructional purposes it would be useful in illustrating a local, South Asian mode of ritually engaging images that stands in sharp contrast with the exclusively visual experience authorized following the re-classification of such icons as ""art"" objects. From the Bengal state.

  • Thumbnail for Bronze bowl
    Bronze bowl

    Signs of the zodiac. This is a vessel for sacred liquids prepared and used in Hindu Tantric ritual. In the interior bottom is a strange, quasi-anthropomorphic (phallic?) figure. It appears to have a Kadiri inscription of 4 characters above the sign for Sagittarius. Mummy-like anthropomorphs are repeated above the zodiac, interspersed with figures in the so-called East Javanese Wayang style. This is a very old and significant ritual object. The figures on the surface are ancestral to the Wayang Kulit puppets in the Dickinson collection. At one time it would have had a lid. An almost identical piece, with lid, is published among the national treasures of Indonesia's National Museum in Art of Indonesia: Pusaka, H. Soebadio (ed), 1992, page 114).

  • Thumbnail for Dasavataras, Visnu's ten incarnations - one of set of ten
  • Thumbnail for Hindu Temple
    Hindu Temple

    A Hindu temple in Singapore.

  • Thumbnail for Harihara

    The museum label states: "This sculpture from a temple niche represents Harihara, a figure combining Shiva (right half) and Vishnu (left half). Shiva has a crown of matted locks and holds a trident as his emblem of power. His bull, Nandi (missing its head), stands at his side. Vishnu's crown is miterlike, and he holds the conch and discus. The pairing of these two deities and their symbols represents the paradox of simultaneous destruction and creation in nature." -- India, Madhya Pradesh -- Red Sandstone -- Coll. Art Institute of Chicago (Lent by the Pritzker Fmily, 516.1983)

  • Thumbnail for Goddess

    The museum label reads, "Because she is missing both her head and arms, this figure is impossible to identify. She may be Uma, Sarasvati, or Lakshmi, all popular Hindu goddesses in Cambodia. Typical of the Cambodian sytle, the female figure is unadorned except for the lavishly carved details of her sarong." Angkor Vat style Coll. Art Institute of Chicago (James W. and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, 226.1997)

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Hindu Caves, wedding of Shiva and Parvati, close-up
    Ellora Hindu Caves, wedding of Shiva and Parvati, close-up

    A closeup of the wedding ceremony of Shiva and Parvati. See also cbind0102.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Datta Temple
    Ellora, Datta Temple

    Datta, a combination of Vishnu, Brahma, and Siva, is a god most familiar in Maharashtra. While most Hindu temples display images of various gods and goddesses throughout, as does this temple, this Datta Temple places all three gods in its innermost shrine, reserved for the primary deity of the temple. The ancient sacred Sanskrit syllable, AUM, is placed above the doorway to the inner sanctum. The intense orange-yellow color dominating the temple assoicates with ascetic practices.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, Kamadeva and Rati with sugarcane bow
    Kailash Cave Temple, Kamadeva and Rati with sugarcane bow

    The god of desire, Kamadeva, and his consort, Rati, are carved on the inside of the couryard wall for visitors just entering, or just leaving the temple complex. Between Kama and Rati is the god's weapon, a sugarcane bow, which is sheltering them with its bower of leaves.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Ganapati Temple, inner sanctum doorway
    Ellora, Ganapati Temple, inner sanctum doorway

    The small inner shrine of the temple is set off from the rest of the temple by this decorated doorway. Devotees ring the bell to announce their presence to the god and then step over the door frame to perform their puja and receive darshan. Barely visible just inside the door is the image of the elephant-faced deity.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, Gandharvas accompanying Kamadeva and Rati
    Kailash Cave Temple, Gandharvas accompanying Kamadeva and Rati

    Next to an image of Kamadeva, god of desire, and his consort, Rati, is this panel containing apsarases and these gandharvas, heavenly creatures also associated with sensuality, music, and desire.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Datta Temple, Linga and Nandin
    Ellora, Datta Temple, Linga and Nandin

    On a pillar of the temple, Shiva's bull, Nandin, protects a Shiva Linga.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Ganapati Temple, archway entrance
    Ellora, Ganapati Temple, archway entrance

    This archway marks the entrance to the Ganapati Temple grounds: A holy temple to Shri Vinayaka Ganapati.