SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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Kashmirian Miscellany of Votive Texts with Tantric Illustrations in Sanscrit.,


Paper - 20 FF. - 82 x 126 mm. Kashmirian shell-burnished paper in pothi format, six lines a folio. Sanskrit in careful bold Sarada calligraphy written in black ink by various hands (the last three folios of [4.] and the whole of [27.] are completed by two looser, swift-flowing hands) in black, red and orange frames; double framing of some title pages; consistent rubrication of colophons, (sporadically the original scribe has forgotten to ink in the alternate red characters in final colophons. They are then supplied, with varying degrees of correctness, by a second, cruder hand) and punctuation; occasional marginal annotation and correction; the first few folios are mis-bound; between [4.] and [5.] are the imprints of 11 signet rings with Persian inscriptions, three of which are legible; 39 FULL-PAGE MINIATURES of the deities addressed by the hymns; not dated propria manu at the end is attached an unconnected leaf of modern paper with a list of names (previous owners ?) and the dates samvat '91 san ’12 and samvat '96 san ’45. In laquered papier-mache covers painted with fine gilded floral motifs in green, red, blue and white, with green leather spine. The work contains 39 miniatures in the Kashmirian style by at least two different artists. The Vaisnava illustrations included in this collection are commonly met in other sources, but since Kashmirian illustrations of Tantric Saiva deities are rare, a closer investigation is clearly a desideratum. Iconographical details are largely represented in accordance with scriptural authorities but occasionally the implements held by many-armed deities are not discernible or abstracted beyond recognition. The bulk of the illustrations, while finely executed, are the work of specialist artists employed to produce images for such devotional compilations. The second group of miniatures ([8.], [9.], [31.], [36.], [38.]), easily recognisable by the more careful embossed framing and gilding which betrays a clear influence of Islamic motifs, are the work of a very superior artist. Deliberately plain backgrounds enhance the delicate portraiture evidencing considerable sensitivity in the handling of three-quarter profiles (see [8.] Siva and Parvati riding the bull Nandi and [31.] the ten-armed Goddess Durgå astride her Lion). The Texts contained in the compilation are hymns (stotra, stava) and protective ritual instructions (kavaca) used to alleviate suffering in all kinds of vicissitudes. Some are very specific, such as the Bråhmivida, whispered into the ears of the dead to guide the soul safely out of the body, or the Narakottåranastava, used to rescue beings trapped in the hells, others, such as the Påndavagita or Pañcastavi are more generally applicable. The hymns and mantras invoke predominantly Tantric Íaiva deities commonly worshipped in Kashmir (some Goddesses, such as Sarika and Mahara-jni are almost exclusively local). Others appeal to the Sun, the Moon, the regents of the planets, the Goddess JvålåmukhI (the ‘Flame-mouthed Goddess’ a deification of naturally occurring subterranean gas fire) and the rivers Vitastå (Jhelum) and the Ganges to avert evil propensities. Coloured plates in order: 1. Four-headed, four-armed Brahmå seated on lotus throne. 2. Four-armed Ganesa (with the ruddy head common in Kashmirian miniatures) seated on a lotus throne. 3. Four-armed Goddess Bhavani seated on a supine Siva. 4. White, five-headed, ten-armed Sadasvia with Parvati seated on lotus throne with the bull Nandi in lower left. 5. Four-armed, ruddy Bhairava seated on supine supplicant. 6. Blue, four-armed, Vetålabhairava bearing trident, severed human head, Vina and club, seated on a supine corpse. 7. White, three-eyed, four-armed Siva holding trident, lotus, Kamandalu and rosary, the Ganges streaming from his top-knot, with Pårvati astride Nandi before the peak of Kailåsa. 8. White, three-eyed, four-armed Siva holding trident and lotus astride Nandi with Pårvati attended by two Ganas. 9. Krsna as Arjuna’s charioteer lowing his conch. 10. Visnu's Matsya incarnation slaying Sankhasura while Brahmå looks on. 11.Visnu's Våråha incarnation trampling Hiranyaksa. 12. Visnu's Nrsimha ncarnation burying his claws in the chest of Hiranyakasipu . 13. Våmana begs the earth from King Bali. 14. Parasurama slaying Sahasrårjuna with his axe. 15. Hanumån propitiates Råma and Sita attended by Laksmana. 16. Krsna (rough sketch of Siva). 17. Krsna manifests his cosmic form to Arjuna, caption visvarupadarsana. 18. Krsna. 19. Arjuna faces Krsna's Visvarupa. 20. Visnu's future incarnation as Kalki represented by a white horse. 21. Krsna wiith two Gopis. 22. Krsna and Arjuna. 23. Visnu Sesasayin. 24. Krsna delights the Gopis with his flute music. 25. Four-armed Krsma on lotus throne. 26. Flame-haloed, four-armed Jvålåmuxhi (Goddess of subterranean fire) seated on lotus throne borne by two lions. 27. Four-armed Devi riding a lion. 28. The Goddess Candi battles against Mahisasura caption devi yudh kåran. 29. Candi decapitates Mahisasura. 30. Candi defeats Sumbha and Nisumbha. 31. Eighteen-armed Deviastride lion. 32. Visnu's future incarnation as Kalkin represented as a winged white horse. 33. Four-armed Durgå attended by two princely sages, caption durgå devi. 34. Three-eyed, four-armed, white Vitastå, bearing mirror, pot, lotus and rosary seated on fish. 35. Four-armed Goddess Durgå. 36. Red, four-armed Tripurasundari seated on a supine Sadåsiva borne in a palanquin by Brahmå, Krsna, Rudra and Isvara (the Goddess with the Pañcapreta). 37. Four-armed golden Tripurasundari attended by the Pañcapreta (supine Sadåsiva Brahmå, Krsna, Rudra and Isvara). 38. Surya in his solar chariot drawn by seven horses with his legless charioteer Aruna. (two line sketches of devotees, caption of sriramarama). 39. Faded miniature of Hanumån.