, Skanda on his peacock Enlarge 1 /1
Kalighat style Bengal, India, Calcutta
Skanda on his peacock [Kartikeya youngest son of Durga astride his "vehicle", a peacock] c. 1860 Description: Karttikeya
Place made: Kalighat, Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, India
Materials & Technique: paintings, watercolour, silver paint watercolour and silver paint on paper Support: paper
Dimensions: support 45.5 h x 27.5 w cm mount 48.2 h x 30.2 w cm
Acknowledgement: The Gayer-Anderson Gift 1954
Accession No: NGA 91.1322
Subject: Hindu Kalighat School Deities
  • Acquired in Dundee, Scotland, by Colonel Thomas Gayer Gayer-Anderson, 1953
  • held in the collection of Colonel Thomas Gayer Gayer-Anderson and the late Major Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson, Pasha, both of The Little Hall, Lavenham, Suffolk, England, 1953
  • who gave it to the Commonwealth of Australia, 1953
  • held by National Library of Australia, Canberra, after transfer from London, 1954-1991
  • transferred to the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 1991.
  • The collecting history of this painting is partial. The earliest known transaction is its acquisition by the donor in Scotland in 1953. The National Gallery of Australia welcomes further information regarding its history of ownership prior to 1953.

The Hindu god of war, Skanda is often depicted as a young boy with six heads. In this painting, however, he is shown with a single head. He holds a bow and is draped in jewellery. Skanda sits astride his vehicle, the peacock Paravani, whose feathers fan out behind the god. Although often considered the son Shiva created in his state as Mahayogi, the Great yogi, tales of Skanda are known across South Asia and frequently predate this association. Skanda is also identified as the brother of Ganesha.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label