Gouache painting on paper from a portfolio of sixty-three paintings of deities and daily life. Ten vignettes of Shaiva ascetics performing penance in two rows of five.
a) A standing ascetic naked but for a minute loin-cloth, performing panchagni tapas, i.e. 'five fires penance' standing in the sun, surrounded by four fires.
b) An ascetic, as above, stands on his hands, his eyes closed in deep meditation. His knees are slightly flexed and his feet crossed.
c) An ascetic, as above, hangs upside down from a branch of a tree.
d) An ascetic, as above, floats mid-air, his legs in padmasana. His eyes are shut; with one hand on the nose he controls his breath intake. On the ground is the tiger skin on which he was seated before levitating into mid-air.
e) An ascetic, as above, stands on his left leg, while his right leg is flexed above his left knee.
f) An ascetic, as above, immersed up to his neck in the water of a lake in which grow clusters of lotuses.
g) An ascetic, as above, seated in utkutikasana on a tiger skin placed in the shade of a banyan tree. A yogapatta is wound around his knees and keeps them in position.
h) An ascetic, as above, stands on his head. His left hand is placed on the ground to keep his balance.
i) An ascetic, as above, stands, the palms of his hands turned upwards. A yajnopavita (sacred thread) is shown across his chest.
j) An ascetic, as above, seated in padmasana on a tiger skin. His hands are in anjali mudra, his eyes are closed.
The background of these ten scenes is a rural landscape enlineved by trees and rocks and the occasional cloud in the sky.
© Trustees of the British Museum