About this object

History of use

Indian popular religious prints have been published for nearly a century, first by German presses, later by Indian ones. The prints may take the form of calendars, posters, or simply images. The style of the representations is European. In the beginning they were Hindu images, but are now acquiring elements both of folk art and a romantic secularism. It is a living art currently influenced by the movie industry and non-Hindu religions. The images are a vehicle for advertising and are also used for religious purposes.

Cultural context

calendar art; popular religious art

Iconographic meaning

Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, creativity, and wealth, is the giver of good luck and good fortune. Often pictured with Vishnu as his principle consort, and in threesome with elephant-headed Ganesh, remover of obstacles, and vina-playing Saraswati, goddess of learning and the arts. Lakshmi is also identified by: a large blooming lotus flower from which she rises, gold coins flowing from hands, white elephant as symbol of life-giving force, and conch shell. Elaborate costume, water, and other symbols represent abundance, fertility, and the wealth of the universe.

Physical description

Rectangular calendar print depicting Lakshmi, a four-armed female in gold and green trimmed red sari, stands upon a large pink lotus, raised on a square gold pedestal. White halo shape behind head. Wears tall jeweled gold crown, blue waist sash, green undershirt; jeweled gold bracelets, necklaces and waist band. Her two back hands are raised, each holds a pink lotus; lowered hand on right has outward facing palm, fingers downward pointing; lowered hand on left has gold coins pouring from open palm onto sacks of paper money surrounding base of pedestal. Grey elephant behind Lakshmi on right, holds two flowers in trunk. Ground is black at base, blue above, purple and orange graduated colouring surrounding halo. Calendar's lower third has advertisement in blue Indian script. Metal edged at top and base.