River Goddess Ganga on Her Fish Mount.
India, Punjab Hills, Mandi, ca. 1815. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper. Lent by the San Diego Museum of Art: Edwin Binney 3rd Collection.

The goddess Ganga, garbed in pink-tinged white garments and holding aloft a water pot and lotus flower, sits on a large fish in the midst of a Himalayan pool. Ganga is the personification of the Ganges, India's sacred river. The cool silvery tones of the mountain peaks, flowing waters, and the fair-skinned goddess on her vehicle evoke the pure waters she represents. The goddess descended from the heavens into the Himalayas and from there she flowed into the Indian plains. Ganga is thus a bridge from the heavens to the earth, and devotees who bathe in the river or are cremated by its banks are released from the cycle of mundane existence. This painting, one of a series with similar borders of pink lozenges within rectangular cartouches, was produced in the early nineteenth century for the Hindu ruler of Mandi, a small kingdom in the Punjab Hills.


River Goddess Gangha on Her Fish Mount