Sense of Sight: Sacred and the Visual

Standing Parvati
Standing Parvati

Period: Chola period (880–1279 AD)

Origin: Tamil Nadu, India

Medium: Copper alloy (Metalwork)

Dimensions: H. 27 3/8 in. (69.5 cm)

The Standing Parvati originated in the widely renowned Chola Period (880-1279 AD), a time when metal sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses were casted by the Cholas in South India.

Changes within the Hindu religion called for mobile statues, such as the Chola bronze statues, that could easily be transported anywhere and used in rituals that took place outside temples. The old sculptures of Hindu deities made out of stone were either static reliefs or were too bulky to be carried around; so sculptors adopted a new method formulated by the Chola rulers, casting metal to create religious idols.

Chola period sculptures were created using the lost-wax technique. A method initially crafting a wax model, forming a mold around it, and casting a shape using the mold. Each sculpture made using this technique requires a different wax model, therefore making each idol created a unique piece of art.

Parvati, the Hindu goddess of love, fertility and devotion, is the consort of Shiva and mother of the lord Ganesha. This magnificent statue is said to be one of the finest depictions of Parvati and is abstracted with a combination fine details and natural forms. The proportions of her body structure make her appear sensuous by emphasizing on her large breasts, wide hips and her slender waist line – indicative of fertility and celebrate the female form. The soft lines of her firm body capture the ideal beauty and grace of the goddess and eternal female figure.

She is wearing luxurious and decorative jewelry – a headpiece, earrings, several ornaments around her neck, bangles and rings on each of her fingers. The headpiece which Parvati is wearing gives the impression of a conical crown with tiers on it, resembling a mountain. The fine cloth that is wrapped around her waist is secured with a heavy ornamented belt – the details of the drapery and the embellishment are very delicate and exquisite.

In Hindu art, gods and goddesses are depicted with distinct characteristics that help the viewer make associations and identify the deities being represented. Parvati stands poised, with a dramatic sway and holds one arm up to form a gesture and the other hand extended down – a distinctive pose known as tribhanga. The hand gesture indicates that she is holding a flower – her fingers curved, her thumb and forefinger meeting. When standing in this position, Parvati is often accompanied by Shiva when he is in his role as the Nataraja or the Lord of Dance.

Reference: http://http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/57.51.3


Whirling dervishes – A sacred ritual of love

Whirling Dervishes

Sufi whirling is a ritual dance performed within a religious ceremony called Sama. The creation of Sama is credited to Rumi, a Sufi master and the creator of the Mevlevis. This performance is also a form of meditation practiced by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order.

By remembering God, listening to music and spinning in repetitive circles dervishes aim to reach enlightenment. The endless spinning in circles is said to be a symbolic imitation of the planets orbiting the sun in our Solar System.

A dervish practices multiple rituals in the Sama, the most important is the dhikr, remembering of Allah. The dhikr involves recitation of the verses of various Islamic prayers and is accompanied by physical exertions of movement, dancing and whirling.

This ritual is performed in a traditional dress: a sikke, which is a hat made out of camel’s hair, a white frock called tennure and a black overcoat known as a khirqa. By removing the khirqa before the whirling begins, the dervishes leave behind their egos and personal desires. While whirling, the dervishes open their arms – facing their right palm towards the sky and their left hand is directed towards the Earth.

The Sama represents a spiritual journey of man’s ascent through mind and love, in search for truth and to acquire wisdom. The ultimate goal of Sama is to reach the state of enlightenment, wajd, which is a trance like state of ecstasy. This ritual dance brings out a devotee’s love for God, purifies the heart and soul, and is a way of finding and communicating directly with God. Similar to the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Sama intends to bring all devotees closer to God.

For over decades the government has taken control over Dervish practices, however, the Mevleviyah order to this day performs ritual Sufi whirling for tourists in Turkey.


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One comment

  1. khyatidoshi1995 · February 18, 2015

    I would like to comment on the beautiful choice of the ritualistic Sufi dance form. Extremely informative and spot on description of the following. There is a sense of lightness and peace that comes about in the posture, costume and music for this particular dance form.
    Very interesting!

    Like

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