Posted on: 15 March 2014

An ascetic, probably Vasishtha, with a rudrakshamala (rosary) in his hand, sits on a tiger skin in a pavilion with a carefully rendered roof supported by slender pillars. His knees are held in place by a yogapatta (band tied around the knees). He wears a russet dhoti and ornaments made of rudraksha beads. His hair, piled up on his head, partly flows loosely over his shoulders. A stick, on which his begging bowl and a piece of cloth are tied, leans against one of the pillars of the pavilion. Just outside the building is a pot, the spout of which is decorated with leaves. At the centre of the drawing is the parijata tree, its crown an imaginative juxtaposition of different flowering and fruiting trees. To the far right is the cow of plenty, Surabhi, with the head of a woman with a plait, her long neck covered with necklaces of varied designs. On her head, her two horns are capped with decorative sheaths and she wears a crown; anklets adorn her hooves. The foreground is enlivened by diminutive trees and tufts of grass.

Gouache painting on paper from a portfolio of sixty-three paintings of deities and daily life.

Tamil Nadu
Company School
1820 (circa)

© Trustees of the British Museum

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Gorgeous - such detailing

kalpavriksha tree. it has various kinds of leaves, fruits etc. at one time. Why parijatha?

If the sage is identified as Vasishtha, then the cow is Nandini, the daughter of Surabhi (Kaama Dhenu).

Beautiful thaught