17. Raja Sidh Sen of Mandi

Attributed to Mohammadi
Opaque pigment on paper
early 19th Century
Image: 11 5/8 by 8¼ in. (29.5 by 21 cm.)

Raja Sidh Sen ruled over the Himalayan hill state of Mandi on the Beas River from c. 1684 to 1724.  He was famous as a giant warrior and ardent devotee of Shiva, proficient in tantric (magical-devotional) practices, and was credited with a host of supernatural powers, including the ability to fly to the source of the Ganges every day for his bath.  His great size is emphasized in this portrait, where he fills nearly the entire picture.  Apart from his stature, Sidh Sen is recognizable by his face with its large eye, five-o’clock shadow, curl of hair at the ear, receding chin, and wide, prominent nose.  In his right hand he carries a sheathed sword.

His devotion to the Devi is emphasized by the prominent Shakta tilik on his forehead and his connection to Shiva by the rudraksha beads and amulet around his neck.  Simple gold bangles, a thumb ring, and pearl necklaces and earrings add a regal note to the ensemble.

Numerous portraits of Sidh Sen are known, some painted during his lifetime, others posthumously, as in the present example.