Prakriti Purusha (eternal male and female principles)

Pushpa Kumari2015

Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)

Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)
Brisbane, Australia

Prakriti and Purusha are Sanskrit terms for eternal male and female elements. Here Prakriti is seated on the earth, her legs open to imply fertility, and branches grow from her shoulders. Her face is a single eye, and a larger eye is embraced by the male Purusha. Creation and fecundity are shown as intertwined and inseparable from the bodiless spirit. Out of these two principles, it is believed that the world was born. An excerpt from a thirteenth century poem Amrit Anubhava by Jnaneshwar describes the union of Shiva and Shakti:

From the union of these two the universe has come to be
Two lutes, one note
Two lamps, one light
Two eyes, one sight
Two lips, one word
Two hearts, one love
In this way these two create one universe.

Dating from at least the 14th Century, Mithila painting and drawing was traditionally practised by women in the Mithila region of Bihar in northern India and Nepal.

Mithila works are characterised by intricate line drawing, geometric patterns and elaborate symbolism — fish represent fertility, peacocks are associated with love, and serpents with divinity. For centuries it was used to mark rituals and ceremonies, particularly weddings, and created mostly on the walls of people’s homes.

Pushpa Kumari (India b.1969) retains the distinctive styles and conventions of Mithila painting while addressing new subjects such as women’s rights in India.

Exhibited in 'The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art' (APT8) | 21 Nov 2015 – 10 Apr 2016


Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps