The inspiration for this work comes from Bhasma Mohini sculpture at the beautiful Hoysala temples at Belur – Halebidu that I visited a few months back.
This sculpture is in turn inspired by grace and beauty of the great queen Shantala Devi; who commissioned several temples, dancing the Bharatnatayam dedicated to Bhasma Mohini. The sculture is so geometrically correct that a drop of water from her right hand falls onto her nose, then on her left hand and then on to her left foot.
Mohini, was the only female incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This particular sculpture depicts the dance with which she tricked the demon Bhasmasura to kill himself.
You see, Bhasmasura had a boon, that he could turn anyone he touched on the head into ashes. Such power obviously turned his head and Lord Vishnu decided to intervene in the form of Mohini.
Mohini appears and so beguiles Bhasmasura that he asks her to marry him. Mohini says ‘yes’, but on the condition that he follow her dance, move for move. The besotted Bhasmasura agrees and when she puts her hand on her own head, he does the same to himself resulting in his ‘timely’ death.
Mohini, was a woman who used her beauty and intellect to defeat the demons and help the Gods. Sort of like a ‘Mata Hari’ of mythology, only her end was not so violent, after all she was the incarnation of Vishnu.
And so, after a few weeks of painstaking and cautious work, I can present Mohini. The red signifies the fire in her spirit.
She isn’t perfect, but I feel very proud of her.