Naag Paash: a mystical diagram in the form of an entwined snake Udaipur, 18th Century

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Lot 101
Naag Paash: a mystical diagram in the form of an entwined snake
Udaipur, 18th Century

£ 4,000 - 6,000
US$ 5,200 - 7,800
Naag Paash: a mystical diagram in the form of an entwined snake
Udaipur, 18th Century
gouache on paper, the snake bordered by naturalistic floral sprays, yellow and red outer borders, inscribed on the reverse in nagari script nag pas
232 x 293 mm.

Footnotes

  • Pictures such as this may have been used as mandalas for meditation in order to gain advantage over an opponent or enemy. A vernacular version of naag paash, meaning 'serpent-noose', a magical lasso in which an enemy can become entangled. The original Sanskrit word nagapasha was also known as Vishvajit, 'Conqueror of the Universe'. This was the name given to the noose of the god Varuna, one of the earliest and most prominent Vedic deities. He is associated with rain, rivers, oceans and fertility, and his vehicle is the mythical aquatic beast, the makara.

    The naag paash is also associated with one of the great demon characters of the Ramayana, Indrajit, the son of Ravana. Originally called Meghanaad, meaning 'thunderous' because of the deafening sound of his birth cry, he was given the name Indrajit (Conqueror of Indra) by Brahma when he defeated Indra by tying him up with his serpent-noose. The naag paash is the most famous and formidable, but not the only weapon in the vast armoury of the demon warrior, sorcerer and illusionist, who plays a major role in the Lankan wars between Rama and Ravana. He has arrows that can change into snakes as they fly through the air, able to pierce, bite, poison, bind and entwine. Individual snake arrows can combine into a single gigantic naag paash, sometimes made up of a million snakes.

    One of Indrajit's greatest triumphs is his defeat of Rama and Lakshmana by using the naag paash. Rendering himself invisible with a boon granted by Brahma, he unleashes the huge snake weapon that coils up like a rope and ensnares Rama and Laskhmana, immobilising and wounding them. Indrajit rushes from the battlefield to boast to Ravana of his victory but unexpected salvation comes in the form of Garuda, the king of the birds and the enemy of serpents, who swoops in from the sky. Terrified at the sight of Garuda's swift approach, the naag paash loosens its grip and the snake arrows slither hurriedly away, leaving Garuda to heal Rama's and Lakshmana's wounds and nurse them back to vigorous health.
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