indian-miniature-painting

2

the sight of me combing my long hair
brings you back to your country
where you tell me
girls sit in the open air
combing each other’s hair. 
poem for an Indian Scholar, Crazy Melon and Chinese Apple, The Poems of Frances Chung.

Perhaps it is the nature of miniature painting but for most of the 16th-19th century hairstyles are flat and either depicted loose or plaited*. As always with Indian hair jewels and flowers are present minimally or in abundance.  In miniature paintings additionally hair is often partially covered with an odhni.

The second painting depicts a nayika whose lover/husband is devoted to her (swadhinabhartruka).  Often paintings depict these nayikas having their foot decorated or having their hair dressed. This can also be seen in sculpture (e.g. Shringhar, Kushan period) but in miniature paintings the nayika and her lover are usually Radha and Krishna. 

Pic 1 (Hyderabad, 1840).
Pic 2: Kangra, 18th century.

*Also in company paintings/Kalighat paintings.

Devi Tārā or Tāriṇī

The Goddess who saves, blue hued, second of the ten Mahāvidyās – the wisdom Goddesses. In her four arms, she carries a sacrificial sword, a severed head or skull cup, a lotus and scissors. The scissors symbolise the bonds, entanglements and unwanted habits that she cuts her devotees free from.

Often confused with Goddess Kāli, Devi Tāra is distinguished by the blue hue, the garment of tiger skin and the lotus and scissors.

Opaque water colour on gold paper, circa 1745 CE

San Diego Museum of Art