This painting from the Mithila region of Janakpur, Nepal, shows Shiva and his wife Parvati with their elephant-headed son, Ganesha. Like Annapurna Devi’s depiction of Hanuman, also on view in this gallery, this work was executed on thick, homemade paper known as lokta, which provides the support needed to hold multiple layers of highly saturated, opaque paint. Here the artist has filled the page with concentrated patches of color, on top of which sit red and black polka dots and other repeating patterns. Combined with the profusion of twisting, willowy lines—note the coiling snake that emerges from Shiva’s dreadlocks—the bright hues and rhythmic designs cause the composition to reverberate with movement. The women of Janakpur used to only paint images like this one on the freshly plastered mud walls of their and their family members’ homes. While they now also depict them on paper, the aesthetic imperative to fill in the entire surface remains.
Hinduism; religion; families; deities; marriage; elephants; plants
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