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  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Kolkata (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1880 (Painted)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and tin alloy on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs. E.M. Milford pp. Church Missionary Society

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Painting, in opaque watercolour and tin alloy on paper, Shiva the heavenly ascetic and the patron god of the ascetics is shown as playing a tanpura (a musical instrument). He is wearing a tiger skin as his loin cloth and three cobras can be seen entangled in his dreadlocked hair. Shiva's stout upper torso is bare and he has been depicted with his third eye, but his other eyes are shown narrowed due to the influence of narcotics. An ascetic's other attributes, such as bead (rudrakha) armband are on his upper arms and on his wrists. However, Shiva has been depicted with the stock-in-trade silver colour ornaments of the Kalighat paintings (executed in tin alloy), particularly multi-string necklace, earrings and other ornaments on his arms. The strings and the trimmings of the 'tanpura' are in silver colour painting. The figure is lightly shaded and the torso as well as the limbs are well rounded. The facial expression has captured Shiva's traditional appearance.

Place of Origin

Kolkata (made)


ca.1880 (Painted)



Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and tin alloy on paper


Height: 444 mm maximum, Width: 288 mm maximum

Object history note

Acquired together with two other pictures from the Church Missionary Society, through Mrs E.M. Milford in 1949.

Descriptive line

Painting, Shiva as ascetic and musician, in opaque watercolour and tin alloy on paper, Kalighat, Kolkata, ca. 1880

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Archer, W.G., Kalighat Paintings a Catalogue and Introduction, Victoria & Albert Museum, London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1971, pp.63-64 (21,i).
p. 23, fig. 28
Archer, W.G., Bazaar Paintings of Calcutta, Victoria & Albert Museum, H.M.S.O., 1955

Production Note

Painted by an unknown Kalighat artist (patua)


Opaque watercolour; Paper; Paint; Tin alloy



Subjects depicted

Musical instrument; Deity; Hinduism


Paintings; Hinduism; Religion; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project


South & South East Asia Collection

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