Kangra Pahari School Shiva Painting

The western hills of the Himalayas was a center for painting in India from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The styles transitioned from the colorful and flamboyant Basohli paintings to the sophisticated and detailed Kangra paintings. Instead of painting flattering images of powerful people and families at the time, artists began painting scenes based on poetry.

Kangra paintings were always done using raw and natural materials. The paints were sourced locally by the artists, and they were painted with squirrel hairs to create the finest lines. Even the paper is handmade from pine trees, which is a laborious task that takes days. Only 19 colors were used, and they were all from natural sources: rocks, plants, and bugs.

This painting depicts Shiva, his wife, Parvarti, and Nandi, Shiva’s sacred bull and attendant. They stand in the hills surrounded by nature and trees. Shiva is seen wearing the skin of an elephant, which references his slaying of the demon Gajasura, the personification of materialism. By wearing the skin, Shiva shows his disdain for material possessions. The snake around his neck shows that he is in control of fear and death, and it is said that the snake wrapped around three times represents past, present, and future.

Circa: 18-19th century

Origin: India

Material: Painting on paper, wood frame

Condition: Minor staining, good condition

Dimensions: 12" x 10 1/2" framed, 4 3/4" x 7 1/4" just the painting

Inventory number: PT659



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