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Seven Nymphs trying to disturb Arjuna in Meditation



The centre of this carving is the figure Arjuna, who is meditating on the tip of his nose, while the seven nymphs try to break his concentration. Arjuna is the hero of the Pandava brothers in the Indian epic Mahabharata. To prepare for the great battle of Bharatayudha Arjuna meditates to obtain powerful weapons from the Gods. Seven nymphs are sent down from heaven to test and disturb him but to no avail.

Meanwhile, heaven is under siege by the armies of Niwatakawaca who demands the hand in marriage of a daughter of the war God Indra. The head of Gods, Syiwa, awakens Arjuna and awards him the magic arrow Pasopati, which is destined to kill his half brother Karna in Bharatayudha, and after that it will protect the only surviving Pandava child, Parikesit. The story of Arjuna meditating, obtaining Pasopati and saving heaven from Niwatakawaca is called Arjunawiwaha. It was written in Java in the 12'th century Kediri, in praise of the King Erlangga who was considered to be the incarnation of Vishnu because of his success of uniting Java and Bali, the Hindu and the Buddhists and still is considered as a God by some.

The use of colour and the presence of the artist's eccentricity in this piece, suggest that it was carved around 1920-1930, when Western artists began to reside and influence Balinese art. It appears to be of Cempaka wood, painted with pigments and animal glue.

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