"Its availability in turn stimulates the invention of new, or the transformation of old ways of "seeing" theophonies in the midst of ordinary, everyday, mundane, mortal experience"13
After all these images, I want to pose a few final questions, still unanswered, and comments which have found no other space.
1.Who are these posters created by? Although we are given publishing names, and on rare occassions artists names, I wonder how much is truly up to the individual artist. Are they more like graphic designers - and do they have to be religious? Must a Hindu create these images which are believed by some to have spiritual power?
2. Do these artsits, designers set the vocabulary or create the conventions off which later artists and innovations find inspiration? Who decided to make the goddesses' face more cherubic and non-realistic? When exactly did this change occur? One can see a difference in the way the female face was depicted from the 19th century into and beyond the 20th century, what were the causes for this change?
Although the the compositional and stylistic elements become less classicized, and perhaps less "European" so do the faces become less like real women. They are more child-like, fantastical, and all so significantly similar. Take the difference between Varma's Damayanti and Santoshi Ma's faces and poses, one obviously more classcised, but yet more realistic.
3. Could this clothing of dieties in riches, supplanted in a virtual world often mimicing the one in which we live - the imagery so neear to humanly and yet exoticized as the other, as others have made of others...? Is it a reification: creating symbols which define humanly form from that of the goddess/gods, and yet when saintly or humanly figures like Sati are initiated into the iconography, they are given similar symbols, gien to the goddess to identify them as avatars or incarnations of the sacred?
4. Does this royal garmetry correlate to a specific historical costume? Are the goddess being dressed up as queens, reinforcing monarchial and colonial (?) roots?
It can be noted that the clothing of the goddess has changed since Varma made his first prints. Are the goddesses, like movie stars, dressed up as the ideal, fantasticaly unreality, fashionable models, as well as pious?
Perhaps the most striking change in the past century is Kali Ma's transformation into a plump and beautiful Goddess. Quite different from her tradtional apperance as an old and ugly hag.
5. Are these "sacred images" considered sacred ?
As David Simth has said,
"[N]ot all Hindus regard god posters in the same way. For some, god posters are ascribed a power beyond the material or aesthetic"
Yet many include the posters in altars, garlanded and considered venerable, while others might argu they are non-religious by secular -association. Is having Lakshmi at a cash register, orin a bill fold, or Saraswati in schools really a sacred/secular argument? R.K. Ramanujan could help one discern such limited bianary or dialectical thinking.
6. If buyers would rather have color photographs16 , why?
Is it because it depicts an actual statue, is this what the darshan, poster images are supposeto do, as O.P Joshi suggests? Is this importance on place and on pilgrimagge sites as such, related to the travel or experience, perhaps like the Muslim Hajj? Or, a relation to the devotion/piety which took place there - what does this reemphasis oon place point to? Smith suggests that the site-specific images of Shiva-linga, in regional and locational detail, or the recognition of a local goddess by her vehicle - (Vaishnoo Devi and her Swan) "can traceout the emergent dimensions of Hinduism in a postmodern period"