The great Hindu god, Shiva, sits with his wife, Parvati, and his bull vahana (mount), Nandi, before a cave that holds a trident and crescent moon, two of the god’s attributes. The mountainous landscape recalls the holy family’s Himalayan abode atop Mount Kailash, but it may also reference the sacred Amaranth Cave, in Jammu and Kashmir, where Shiva is said to have revealed to Parvati the secrets of life and the universe. An anonymous artist called the “Stipple Master”—because of his distinctive use of dots and short strokes—probably painted this work while serving at the court of Amar Singh II (r. 1698–1710) in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Since the Stipple Master is best known for his intimate portraits of Amar Singh, this painting may also be a representation of him, though depicted here in the guise of Shiva. Hindu and Muslim rulers often claimed to enjoy close proximity to divinity.
- Yael Rice, 2015
animals; caves; figures; Hinduism; mountains; religion; rivers
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