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The 'Mother and Child' in Modern Indian Art
Aishwarya works for the exhibitions and publications department of Delhi Art Gallery (DAG) and is a student of museology.
Mothers hold a high position in Indian culture, and motherhood has been extensively represented in Indian art. We look at the relationship between mother and child as portrayed by modern Indian artists such as M.V. Dhurandhar, M.F. Husain and Jamini Roy. (Photo Courtesy: Delhi Art Gallery)
The image of a mother and child is an enduring theme in art. India has had a long-standing tradition of reverence for motherly figures, and the concept of the mythological mother and child has remained a constant source of fascination throughout the centuries. Artefacts from the Indus Valley civilisation have been identified as depictions of mother goddesses.
These tiny renderings of mother goddesses have many interpretations, but we can definitely draw the conclusion that our ancestors found some divinity in motherhood. ‘Yashoda and Bal Krishna’ or ‘Mother Mary with Jesus’ as ideals of motherhood have always had a place in the themes of artists in India and abroad. Even Mother India (or Bharat Mata) is a recurring theme in Indian art, and has been represented by painters ranging from Abanindranath Tagore to Amrita Sher-Gil.
Since the Renaissance, artists around the world have been using their mothers as muses, be it Rembrandt, Albrecht Dürer or Salvador Dali. For example, the theme of Madonna and baby Jesus can be traced back to depictions as early as the 2nd or 3rd century, with Raphael’s depictions of the divine mother and child being quite popular.
We take a look at the complex yet beautifully simple relationship between mother and child in Indian art through the paintings of five modern artists.
M.V. Dhurandhar (1867–1944)
My Wife in Art (a series of 175 sketches), by M.V. Dhurandhar ink, graphite, hand-tinted photographs and watercolour on paper, 1898–1942 (Courtesy: Delhi Art Gallery)
M.V. Dhurandhar is possibly one of the most popular Indian artists, after Raja Ravi Varma. He received his training from the renowned J.J. School of Art, Bombay. He drew women as they went about their daily lives, in different moods and around the city of Bombay. His illustrations for Otto Rothfield’s Women of India are particularly touching, especially the relationship he portrays between a mother and her child. Dhurandhar also published a book, My Wife in Art, where he explored the relationship between mother and child through his own family. Two such sketches from this vast collection show rather touching moments between a mother and child, especially the intimate moments between a mother and daughter as they go about their daily routine. Through My Wife in Art, Dhurandhar offers an insight into his family, not only as an artist but as a father observing and capturing the lives of those around him.
M.F. Husain (1915–2011)
From the Mother Teresa series by M.F. Husain lithograph on paper (Courtesy: Delhi Art Gallery)
M.F. Husain, who began his career by painting cinema hoardings, experimented with various forms, genres and mediums of art. His depiction of Mother Teresa is an ode to the universal motherhood that she embodied and the kindness she bestowed on everyone. In his Mother Teresa series, one sees her limitless compassion not only with children but with adults as well, which inspired Husain to depict her as an ‘ideal mother’. He never focused on the features of her face, concentrating instead on her trademark blue-border sari, signifying the artist’s lifelong search for a maternal figure. When Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize, Husain welcomed her and handed her a portrait sketch, which she autographed ‘God bless you’.
Madhvi Parekh (b. 1942)
Mother, by Madhvi Parekh oil and pastel on canvas (Courtesy: Delhi Art Gallery)
Madhvi Parekh’s paintings are unplanned they unfold like a story that changes as the narrative develops. Apart from folk motifs and legends, Parekh uses figures and abstract characters in her compositions. In ‘Mother’, the main character of her composition is placed right in the centre. The ‘mother’ in this painting can be interpreted in many ways: she could be Mother Nature in all her beauty and fury, the character of a mother from a story, or she could even depict how the artist sees the persona of a mother—all-encompassing and often juggling various roles at once. Interestingly, Parekh’s journey as an artist began during her first pregnancy, which adds a tenderness to her art and emphasizes her childlike wonder at the world.
P.T. Reddy (1915–96)
Mother and Children, by P.T. Reddy texture white and oil on plyboard,1958 (Courtesy: Delhi Art Gallery)
P.T. Reddy was born in Andhra Pradesh and studied painting at the J.J. School of Arts, Bombay. He spent his younger days working in the family business and returned to art in the 1950s. He evolved a unique vision of his own, creating a variety of complex portraits. Unlike Dhurandhar, who gave us an insight into the relationships between his family members, Reddy was an observer of the world around him. 'Mother and Children’ was painted in 1958, showcasing the artist’s sensitivity and skill in rendering realistic portrayals of life around him. In this painting, he depicts a mother and her two children, with their colourful clothes, in an almost playful style. The mother is seen reaching for the boy while looking back at her daughter.
Jamini Roy (1887–1972)
Untitled painting by Jamini Roy tempera on boxboard (Courtesy: Delhi Art Gallery)
Jamini Roy trained in the academic realist style before renouncing it in favour of his own style of modernism that emerged from local folk traditions. Roy’s paintings on the subject of mother and child—a theme he painted quite often—are wholesome and simple, and build on the deep connection between the two characters. The artist’s depiction of mother and child includes not only local women, but also mythical and religious figures such as Yashoda, Krishna, and baby Jesus with Mary. For Roy, the theme of motherhood was not restricted to humans the relationship between mother and child transcended humanity and included all living creatures.
Design & Significance
At first glance, you notice the four majestic lions, roaring and facing the four cardinal directions. They represent power, courage, pride, confidence. The Mauryan symbolism of the lions indicate “the power of a universal emperor (chakravarti) who dedicated all his resources to the victory of dharma”. In adopting this symbolism, the modern nation of India pledged to equality and social justice in all spheres of life.
The lions sit atop a cylindrical abacus, which is adorned with representations of a horse, a bull, a lion and an elephant, made in high relief. While some art historians believe that these animals symbolically depict various stages of Buddha’s life, others claim that they represent the reign of Ashoka in the four quarters of the world the open-mouthed lions facing different directions, suggest the announcement of Buddha’s message to the world.
The Wheel with 24 Spokes : Ashok Chakra / Dharmachakra
The animals are separated by intervening chakras (having 24 spokes). The Chakra also finds representation on the National Flag. This chakra, or the ‘Wheel of Law’ is a prominent Buddhist symbol signifying Buddha’s ideas on the passage of time. Dharma (virtue), according to belief, is eternal, continuously changing & is characterized by uninterrupted continuity. It is also said, that the 24 spokes align with the 24 qualities of a Buddhist follower, as defined by the Buddha in his sermons.
These 24 qualities are: Anurāga(Love), Parākrama(Courage), Dhairya(Patience), Śānti(Peace/charity), Mahānubhāvatva(Magnanimity), Praśastatva(Goodness),
Śraddāna(Faith), Apīḍana(Gentleness), Niḥsaṃga(Selflessness),
Ātmniyantranā(Self-Control), Ātmāhavana(Self Sacrifice), Satyavāditā(Truthfulness)
Dhārmikatva(Righteousness), Nyāyā(Justice), Ānṛśaṃsya(Mercy), Chāya(Gracefulness)
Amānitā(Humility), Prabhubhakti(Loyalty), Karuṇāveditā(Sympathy), Ādhyātmikajñāna(Spiritual Knowledge), Mahopekṣā(Forgiveness), Akalkatā(Honesty). Anāditva(Eternity), Apekṣā(Hope)
At the base is an inverted lotus, the most omnipresent symbol of Buddhism, and India’s National Flower. This is however, not part of the Emblem.
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Anyone (e.g. students, teachers, lecturers, writers of scientific papers, libraries, writers of books, film/video makers, the general public) may use and reproduce, crop and alter the maps which I have drawn and photographs which I have made of objects and scenes at no charge, and without asking permission. If you decide to use one or more of my images, I would be grateful (though it is not necessary) if you would include a credit such as 'Photo: Don Hitchcock, donsmaps.com' or similar, at the place you normally put your credits, and with your normal formatting and wording. Obviously this does not apply for any copies I have made of existing photographs, artwork and diagrams from other people, in which case copyright remains with the original photographer or artist. Nor does it apply where there is some other weird copyright law which overrides my permission.
Note, however, that the Ägyptischen Museum München and the Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel permit photography of its exhibits for private, educational, scientific, non-commercial purposes. If you intend to use any photos from these sources for any commercial use, please contact the relevant museum and ask for permission.
Use of images on Wikipedia and Wikimedia
Contributors and editors of Wikipedia and Wikimedia may publish on the Wikipedia and Wikimedia sites the maps which I have drawn and photographs which I have made of objects and scenes at no charge, and without asking permission, using the Creative Commons - Attribution 4.0 International - CC BY 4.0 license. Obviously this does not apply for any copies I have made of existing photographs, artwork and diagrams from other people, in which case copyright remains with the original photographer or artist. Nor does it apply where there is some other weird copyright law which overrides my permission.
Some people have expressed interest in knowing a little bit about me. For those people, here is a potted biography:
I live in Australia, and I am a semi-retired high school mathematics/science teacher.
The Donsmaps site is totally independent of any other influence. I work on it for my own pleasure, and finance it myself. I started before there was an internet, when I thought I could do a better job of the small map on the end papers of Jean Auel's wonderful book, Valley of the Horses, by adding detail and contour lines, and making a larger version. I have always loved maps since I was a young boy.
I had just bought a black and white 'fat Mac' with a whopping 512 kB of memory (!), and no hard disk. With a program called 'Super Paint' and a lot of double work (hand tracing first the maps of Europe from atlases, then scanning the images on the tracing paper, then merging the scanned images together, then tracing these digital scans on the computer screen), I made my own black and white map.
Then the internet came along, the terms of my internet access gave me space for a small website, and Don's Maps started. I got much better computers and software over the years, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for example, and my maps became colourised and had more detail. I did a lot of maps of the travels of Ayla from Jean Auel's books, and I gradually included other pages with more and more photos available from the web, and scanned from books or from scientific papers, since I was not happy with the quality generally available. I became very interested in the Venus figurines, and set out to make a complete record of the ice age ones. Along the way I got interested in archaeology for its own sake.
In 2008 my wife and I went to Europe, and when we arrived in Frankfurt at sunrise after the 24 hour plane trip from Sydney, while my wife left on her own tour with her sister, they visited relatives in Germany and Austria, I went off by myself on the train to Paris. Later that afternoon I took a train to Brive-la-Gaillarde, found a hotel and caught up on lost sleep. The next morning I hired a car, and over the next four weeks visited and photographed many of the original archaeological sites in the south of France, as well as many archaeological museums. It was a wonderful experience. My wife and I met up again later in the Black Forest, and cycled down the Danube from its source to Budapest, camping most of the way, a wonderful trip, collecting many photos, including a visit to Dolni Vestonice in the Czech Republic, as well as visiting the Vienna natural history museum. Jean Auel fans will realise the significance of that trip!
Luckily I speak French, the trips to France would have been difficult or impossible otherwise. No one outside large cities speaks English (or they refuse to). I was travelling independently, not as part of a tour group. I never knew where I was going to be the next night, and I camped nearly everywhere, except for large cities. I am a very experienced bushwalker (hiker) and have the required equipment - ultra lightweight tent, sleeping bag, stove, raincoat, and so on, all of which I make myself for use here when I go bushwalking, though for Europe I use commercial two person lightweight tents, since weight is not so much of a problem when cycling or using a car.
In 2012 we went to Canada for a wedding and to visit old friends, and I took the opportunity to visit the wonderful Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, where I took many photographs of the items on exhibit, particularly of the superb display of artefacts of the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest.
In 2014 my wife and I did another European cycling tour, from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, then from Cologne up the Rhine to the Black Forest, camping most of the way in each case, and taking many useful photos in museums along the way, including the museums at Leiden, Netherlands, and Roskilde in Denmark, and the National Museum in Copenhagen. Again, I later hired a car and did more photography and visited many more sites in France.
In 2015 I made a lone visit to all the major museums in western Europe by public transport, mostly by train, and that went very well. I had learned a lot of German while travelling with my wife, who is a fluent speaker of the language, and of all the European countries, Germany is my favourite. I feel comfortable there. I love the people, the food, and the beer. Germans are gemütlich, I have many friends there now.
I repeated the visit to western Europe in 2018, to fill in some gaps of museums I had not visited the first time, because they were either closed for renovation the first time (such as the Musée de l'Homme in Paris) or because I ran out of time, or because I wanted to fill in some gaps from major museums such as the British Museum, the Berlin Museum, München, the Louvre, the Petrie and Natural History Museums in London, the Vienna Natural History Museum, the important museum in Brno, and museums in northern Germany. It takes at least two visits, preferably three, to thoroughly explore the items on display in a major museum.
I spend a lot of time on the site, typically at least a few hours a day, often more. I do a lot of translation of original papers not available in English, a time consuming but I believe a valuable task. People and fate have been very generous to me, and it is good to give back a very small part of what I have been given. With the help of online translation apps and use of online dictionaries there are few languages I cannot translate, though I find Czech a challenge!
I will never be able to put up all the photos I have taken, each photo needs a lot of research, typically, to put it in context on the site. I do not have enough time left, life is short and death is long, but I am going to give it a good shot!
Life has been kind to me, I want for nothing, and am in good health. Not many in the world are as lucky as I am, and I am grateful for my good fortune.
My best wishes to all who read and enjoy the pages of my site.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And may rain on a tin roof lull you to sleep at night.
Red Lion Square
Named after the local Red Lion Inn and hidden away in Holborn, this small public square has a very intriguing history. Red Lion Square has been the scene of a pitched battle, is the possible resting place of Oliver Cromwell’s body (but maybe not his head), is reputed to be haunted and was home to several distinguished folk, including William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
This area was originally Red Lion fields, so called because they were at the back of the local pub, the Red Lion (Lyon) Inn.
Legend has it that it was to this very inn in 1661 that the bodies of Oliver Cromwell, his son-in-law Henry Ireton and the judge John Bradshaw were carried before being taken to Tyburn to be hanged the following day.
Cromwell had died in 1658 and had originally been buried in Westminster Abbey. However, following the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, the new Parliament ordered the bodies of Cromwell, Bradshaw and Ireton to be disinterred, posthumously tried and executed at Tyburn. They were seen to be the men chiefly responsible for the execution of King Charles I.
And so Cromwell’s body was removed from Westminster Abbey and, according to several sources, brought on a cart with the other two bodies to the Red Lion Inn, where they remained overnight before being hanged at Tyburn. After being gibbetted, the bodies were beheaded before being buried in a pit by the gallows. The heads were then displayed from the roof of Westminster Hall.
However during the night at the inn, the bodies were allegedly exchanged and the true remains buried in a pit in the fields behind the Red Lion Inn. Indeed, rumours abound of the ghosts of Cromwell, Bradshaw and Ireton haunting the square…
Some years after this gory event, the property speculator Nicholas Barbon saw the possibilities of developing the 17 acre site for a new housing project and the area was laid out in June 1684. However the lawyers of nearby Gray’s Inn objected to losing their rural surroundings (some of the gentlemen at the Inn had houses that backed onto the fields) and the building scheme was met with fierce opposition.
The lawyers took their case against Barbon to court, arguing that if the fields were developed, this would result in the loss of their ‘wholesome air’ and be detrimental to their health. However as the land had been purchased legally, they lost the case.
Refusing to give in, on the 10th June a pitched battle broke out between the workmen and around 100 lawyers armed with bricks and other sundry building materials. The subsequent disorder resulted in many of the men on both sides being injured. Led by Barbon himself, the workmen won and the building work continued. Ironically, some of the early tenants were lawyers from Gray’s Inn!
Whilst the new houses were well built and neat, the square in the middle was allowed to deteriorate into a dumping ground for rubbish and a hangout for thieves and vagabonds. This wasn’t unique to Red Lion Square, it was a common scenario with many other similar developments in London at the time.
In 1737 the situation was so bad that the occupants applied for and were granted an Act of Parliament to allow them to levy a rate to ‘beautify’ the square. It was subsequently enclosed with railings and four watch-houses were built at the corners. A rough stone obelisk was also erected around this time in the centre of the square, bearing the inscription “Obtusum Obtusioris Ingenii Monumentum. Quid me respicis, viator? Vade”. Tradition has it that this obelisk marked the spot where Cromwell’s body was buried. However, as the motto seems to be deliberately misleading and undecipherable, we will never know.
The renovated square became fashionable and popular with the professional classes. In 1817 over half the houses in the square were occupied by solicitors, lawyers and doctors as well as wealthy merchants.
A notable resident of the square was John Harrison, the world renowned inventor of the marine chronometer, who lived at number 12, where he died in 1776. There is a blue plaque dedicated to him on the corner of Summit House.
In 1851, Number 17 was home to the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, founder of the Pre-Raphaelite school of painting, who rented rooms there. He recommended the rooms, despite their ‘dampness and decrepitude’, to his friends William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones who moved into the square in 1856.
William Morris, an inspirational member of the Arts and Crafts Movement, went on to open a furniture shop with Rossetti, Burne-Jones and Charles Faulkner at 8 Red Lion Square, which became Marshall, Faulkner & Co.
Badly damaged by bombing during World War Two, only a few of the original houses still survive. Numbers 14 to 17 were built around 1686 but given a new façade in the 19th century.
The garden in the square has been managed by London County Council since 1895 and is open to the public. A pleasant place for a cup of tea or coffee (there is a small café), it contains various commemorative statues including a bust of Nobel laureate and philosopher Bertrand Russell and a statue of Fenner Brockway, politician and anti-war activist.
The nearest underground station to Red Lion Square is Holborn: please see our London Transport Guide for further information.
National Emblem of India is an approval of the Lion Capital the Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh. It is combined with the National Motto Satyameva Jayate . The Lion Capital was adopted as the National Emblem of India on 26, January 1950. It was an announcement of the newly acquired Republic status of India. The National Emblem of India is used for official purposes only and demands genuine respect from the citizens of India. It acts as the official authorization for all national and state government offices. The necessary part of any letterhead used by the govt.
It emphasizes prominently on all currency notes as well as on sensitive identification, documents like the passports issued by the Republic of India. The National Emblem is the symbol of freedom for India.
The Lion Mascot
On October 15, 2005 Columbia debuted its revamped college mascot, Roar-ee. The name "Roar-ee" was selected in an internet vote, beating out four other finalists: Hamilton, Hudson, K.C. and J.J.. The athletics department received over 200 submissions in the initial round of its "Name the Mascot" contest that had begun in September.
Roar-ee's unnamed predecessor who bears a suspicious resemblance to Disney's character The Beast.
Crockett at the Alamo
Crockett and a 30-man armed brigade arrived in Nacogdoches, Texas, in January 1836 during the Texas War for Independence. Crockett swore allegiance to the Provisional Government of Texas in exchange for land and arrived in San Antonio at the Alamo Mission in February.
On February 23, President General Santa Anna and thousands of his troops laid siege to the Alamo against no more than 200 Texas volunteer soldiers, including Crockett and his men, whose sharpshooting skills and long rifles proved invaluable in the fight.
Despite Texas commander Sam Houston’s advice to abandon San Antonio, the Alamo defenders dug in and held out for 13 days until Mexican soldiers overran their defenses on March 6 and killed them all.
Crockett is thought to have died defending the Alamo however, by some accounts he survived the battle and was taken hostage with a handful of men (against Santa Anna’s orders to take no hostages) and executed.
Asiatic lions once prowled from the Middle East to India. Now, only a fraction of these magnificent animals survive in the wild. The Gir Forest's dry teak woods were once a royal hunting ground. Today they are a reserve where these at-risk big cats are heavily protected.
Lions are the only cats that live in groups, called prides. Prides are family units that may include up to three males, a dozen or so females, and their young. All of a pride's lionesses are related and female cubs typically stay with the group as they age. Young males eventually leave and may establish their own prides by taking over a group headed by another male.
Native American Cougar Mythology
Cougars play a variety of different roles in Native American mythology. In some Western tribes, seeing a cougar or hearing its screams is an evil omen, and cougars are often associated with witchcraft. On the other hand, among eastern tribes such as the Seminoles and Shawnees, cougars were considered noble animals with powerful hunting medicine, and the Panther is one of their major clan animals. In the legends of these tribes, Panther sometimes features as a leader or warrior of the animal people. And among the Pueblo tribes, Cougar is believed to have powerful hunting medicine and considered one of the six true directional guardians, associated with the north and the color yellow. Several Pueblos had Cougar Societies, and Zuni hunters carried stone cougar fetishes for protection, ascribing to them both healing and hunting powers. In South America, cougars were associated with wealth and the earth by the Quechua (Incan) people, and many Quechua still consider it lucky to catch sight of a cougar today.
The cougar is also one of several North American animals whose name has Native American origins, though they are rather obscure-- the word "cougar" is actually a French corruption of a Portuguese corruption of a real Brazilian Indian name for the cat ( cuacuara , guazuara , cuguacuara , or susuarana , in different Tupi-Guarani languages.) "Puma," another common English name for the same animal, comes from the Quechua language by way of Spanish.
Tribes with Cougar Clans include the Creek (whose Cougar or Tiger Clan is named Katsalgi or Kaccvlke), the Chippewa (whose Cougar Clan and its totem are called Misibizhiw,) the Chickasaw, the Caddo, the Osage, the Shawnee, and the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico.
New Deal Art
New Deal art was produced under four separate federal programs that operated from 1933 to 1943. The artists who worked for these programs created thousands of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper.
- Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), 1933-1934. The PWAP was a work-relief program. Artists were on government payrolls and received weekly salaries.
- The Section of Fine Arts (The Section), 1934-1943. Originally called the Section of Painting and Sculpture, the Section of Fine Arts awarded commissions to artists through competitions. This program's primary objective was to obtain the highest quality artwork for installation into public buildings.
- Treasury Relief Art Project (TRAP), 1935-1938. TRAP employed artists to create paintings and sculptures for existing federal buildings.
- Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project (WPA/FAP), 1935-1943. The Federal Art Project, later named the Work Projects Administration Art Program, was the largest of the New Deal art programs in both its scope and the number of artists employed.
The artists working for these New Deal programs employed a range of visual styles, although most of the artworks they produced would fit into the American Scene or Social Realist schools. The WPA/FAP also cultivated stylistically experimental works that greatly influenced the subsequent development of art in America. The subjects selected for New Deal artworks were often place-based, frequently depicted historical events, or else represented some aspect of modern life. For example, an artwork might picture Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen forging cannon balls, while another would celebrate the recent construction of an electric power plant in rural Montana. Despite many of the artists' interest in contemporary society, they tended to avoid pointed depictions of the hardships and grittiness of the Depression.
In 1934, the federal government began loaning or allocating the available artworks created under the New Deal art programs to public agencies and nonprofit institutions throughout the nation. Stewardship of these artworks became the responsibility of the General Services Administration when it was established in 1949. Today, GSA remains the federal agency responsible for inventorying these loaned artworks. This is an ongoing project, which now encompasses more than 23,000 artworks.