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The Goddess Ganga

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India, Asia

c. 1650-1675

Opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper

Image: 12 1/4 × 7 1/4 inches (31.1 × 18.4 cm) Sheet: 13 7/8 × 8 7/8 inches (35.2 × 22.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Stella Kramrisch, 1987

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The goddess Ganga is the divine personification of the most important river in India, the holy Ganges. In this painting she rides the rippling waves atop her vahana (vehicle), depicted here as an enormous rohu, a type of Indian carp common in rivers across northern India. Also breaching the water are two gharials, thin-nosed crocodiles native to the Ganges and other North Indian rivers, and a tiny elephant, likewise associated with water and often shown as a marine animal in Indian painting. The white-robed goddess holds a vessel full of the sacred river water and a lotus flower, a symbol of purity and abundance. In the sky, white egrets and other waterbirds soar across the monsoon clouds.