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A group of women visiting the sage Rishyashringa
Place of Origin: India, Himachal Pradesh state, former kingdom of Kangra
Date: approx. 1800
Materials: Opaque watercolors on paper
Dimensions: H. 9 1/4 in x W. 6 7/8 in, H. 23 cm x W. 17.3 cm
Credit Line: Gift of George Hopper Fitch
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: B84D10
On Display: No

Description

Label: Scenes such as this one, depicting a group of women at an ascetic's retreat, are common in Indian paintings and reflect a custom wherein holy men and holy sites were visited in order to secure children, good health, prosperity, and other manifestations of good fortune. The ascetic depicted in this particular painting may be Rishyashringa, a well-known figure from Indian literature. Rishyashringa, whose name means "having deer antlers," is often depicted with a hornlike growth on his head. There seems to be a similar protuberance just above the forehead of the ascetic seated here in front of his hut. Texts such as the Mahabharata (Great Chronicle of the Bharata Dynasty) tell the story of Rishyashringa's seduction by a group of women who lured him away from his forest dwelling. The women had been sent by a king who believed that Rishyashringa's presence in his kingdom would bring rain to his drought-stricken land. Here, the women approach Rishyashringa with food offerings placed on leaves.

More Information

Additional Label:

Women are often shown in paintings visiting holy sites, saints, or ascetics, bringing with them offerings of food and flowers. Ascetics typically had ashrams (dwellings) at a distance from settlements, usually in forests or mountains, as in this tranquil setting. The practice of bringing offerings follows customs wherein men and women sought the blessings or advice of pious individuals for obtaining good health, prosperity, children, and other manifestations of good fortune.

Object label from Worshiping Women: Power and Devotion in Indian Painting.)


Label: Scenes such as this one, depicting a group of women at an ascetic's retreat, are common in Indian paintings and reflect a custom wherein holy men and holy sites were visited in order to secure children, good health, prosperity, and other manifestations of good fortune. The ascetic depicted in this particular painting may be Rishyashringa, a well-known figure from Indian literature. Rishyashringa, whose name means "having deer antlers," is often depicted with a hornlike growth on his head. There seems to be a similar protuberance just above the forehead of the ascetic seated here in front of his hut. Texts such as the Mahabharata (Great Chronicle of the Bharata Dynasty) tell the story of Rishyashringa's seduction by a group of women who lured him away from his forest dwelling. The women had been sent by a king who believed that Rishyashringa's presence in his kingdom would bring rain to his drought-stricken land. Here, the women approach Rishyashringa with food offerings placed on leaves.
Expanded Label:

Women are often shown in paintings visiting holy sites, saints, or ascetics, bringing with them offerings of food and flowers. Ascetics typically had ashrams (dwellings) at a distance from settlements, usually in forests or mountains, as in this tranquil setting. The practice of bringing offerings follows customs wherein men and women sought the blessings or advice of pious individuals for obtaining good health, prosperity, children, and other manifestations of good fortune.

Object label from Worshiping Women: Power and Devotion in Indian Painting.)