Canḍa Bhairava and Kaumārī

Loaned Artwork

Oil on Canvas, 2000
25.5. x 33 cm

Collection of Suman Ratna Dhakhwa

About the Art

Upon careful examination of Shrestha’s artwork depicting Canḍa Bhairava and Kaumārī, it becomes evident that the artist has effectively directed the viewers’ attention toward the central deities within the composition. In one of his artistic compositions, the artist emphasized the significance of Kaumārī to a greater extent compared to that of Bhairava. The manifestation of Kaumārī as Devī exhibits a greater grandeur compared to that of Bhairava. 

The artwork exhibits a somber aesthetic, as the discernment of intricate elements is solely facilitated by the luminosity emanating from the cascading blood originating from Bhairava’s Kapāla Pātra (a receptacle fashioned from a skull) and flowing into a Kapāla (a skull) being grasped by Kaumārī. The Kaumārī’s countenance, along with her immediate surroundings, is bathed in a vivid crimson illumination. The goddess’s facial expressions exhibit both a sense of intensity and a pleasant smile. Her eyes exhibit a blue shade, with the presence of a third eye symbolizing their divine nature. She is adorned with a gold crown and necklaces embellished with intricately etched precious stones. In addition, it can be argued that the expression of her wrathfulness is further exemplified by the presence of the Muṇḍa Mālā, a garland composed of severed heads, adorning her form. 

Despite the presence of a dark atmosphere, Shrestha’s artistic excellence is evident in the intricate depiction of the iconography of Kaumārī and Caṇḍa Bhairava. Kaumārī possesses a total of six arms, with the primary arms being engaged in grasping a Kapāla Pātra, which is a skull, and executing the Bindu Mudrā. In addition, her remaining arms are adorned with Khaḍga (a double-edged sword), Kheṭaka (a shield), and Akṣamālā (prayer beads). Additionally, the presence of Mayūra, symbolizing a peacock and serving as her Vāhana or divine vehicle, can be observed in close proximity to her.

The depiction of Caṇḍa Bhairava in this artwork serves to enhance the overall presence of Kaumārī. The deity is often adorned with sacred symbols, such as the Yajñapavīta, a thread of spiritual significance crafted from Nāga serpents, the Muṇḍa Mālā, a garland composed of skulls, a crown, jewelry, and a cheetah hide worn around the waist. The multi-armed deity Bhairava is seen in iconography carrying a range of Āyudha, or attributes, including the Khaḍga (a double-edged sword), Dhāl (a shield), Khatvāṅga (a six-element stub), ḍamaru (a hand drum), Pāśa (a noose), Kartrī (a curved dagger) and Pātra (a cup).

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