Mohini or the Temptress

Raja Ravi Varma and Ravi Varma Press, Karla LonavalaCirca 1910

The Ganesh Shivaswamy Foundation

The Ganesh Shivaswamy Foundation
Bengaluru, India

MOHINI OR THE TEMPTRESS: Mohini is an avatar or incarnation of Lord Vishnu where he assumes the form of a beautiful and enchanting woman. Using this form he beguiles men into submission and defeat thereby saving the universe and the Gods from annihilation. Episodes where Lord Vishnu has adopted this incarnation include the time when the nectar of immortality was to be distributed only to the Gods and not the demons. At this time, Lord Vishnu adopts the form of a beautiful woman and beguiles the demons into acceding to give the nectar to the Gods first. The other time is when Lord Vishnu adopts the Mohini avatar to save Lord Shiva from the threat of Bhasmasura.

This print from the Ravi Varma Press derived from a painting by Raja Ravi Varma depicts Mohini as a woman on a swing, her white diaphanous saree and contrasting black hair tantalizingly flowing in the wind.


  • Title: Mohini or the Temptress
  • Creator: Raja Ravi Varma, Ravi Varma Press, Karla Lonavala
  • Date Created: Circa 1910
  • Physical Dimensions: 50 x 35 cms
  • Provenance: The Hemamalini and Ganesh Shivaswamy Collection, Bengaluru.
  • Subject Keywords: Raja Ravi Varma, Gigapixel
  • Type: Chromolithograph
  • Rights: The Ganesh Shivaswamy Foundation, Bengaluru.
  • Creator's Biography: Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) was a prolific Indian artist who is recognized for his resorting to the academic realistic style of painting. His portraits of English and Indian royalty and aristocracy were well received. His paintings on Hindu religious and mythological subjects and paintings from classical and literary sources were highly sought after even during his lifetime. He painted several copies of his works and this demand led to the suggestion to have his paintings printed in the form of oleographs. The Ravi Varma Fine Art Lithographic Press was established in Bombay (now Mumbai) and commenced operations in 1894. Many of Ravi Varma's paintings were printed as chromolithographs at this Press. These chromolithographs would have a tremendous impact on religion, society and aesthetics. They went on to democratize art leading to immortalize Ravi Varma in the minds of the people of the Indian subcontinent.

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