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Shiva Abisheka . Jaipur Circa 1880. Opaque watercolour with gold on used English ledger paper. 25.1 x 35cm
This painting is a depiction of an Abhisheka ceremony. In ancient and medieval India, it was customary for lesser lords and chieftains themselves to perform the lustration ceremony during the coronation of a Hindu maharaja or raja. As Shiva here is in a royal attire - the Raja Vesha as opposed to the usual Yogi Vesha - we see the devas themselves performing the ceremony showing it is Shiva's coronation. This is most likely an expression of the Devadhideva Mahadeva (god of gods) aspect of Shiva.
The spout shaped like a cow's head is the artist's conceit referring to the source of the Ganges, Goumukh ( literally 'cow's mouth').
I would like to express my gratitude to Tarun pant for kindy providing the above information.
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Images and text © Peter Blohm