Taking the Gods Home – Printing Presses


Ravi Varma Press, c1900

In the late 19th century, lithographic presses in India began to print popular images of Hindu deities that were often used in household puja (worship). This exhibition combines lithographic prints with clay figures of deities made in southern India. Like the lithographs, these figures were mass produced and used in household puja. 

Deva Gostha

Chore Bagan Art Studio, c.1890

Devotional lithographs were often called calendar art because they were sold with tear off paper calendars. These prints were inexpensive, colourful and widely available across India. Images of deities, in certain scenes and poses, became increasingly standardised across the country. 

This is a representation of Durga at her most maternal. In her arms she cradles the infant Krishna, whilst her other arms form a protective shield around the child. 

Kaliya Daman


In this print, by the Chore Bagan Art Studio, Krishna is dancing on the head of the snake demon, Kaliya, surrounded by the naginis. 

The Chore Bagan Art Studio in Calcutta was active in the 1880s and 1890s. Prints from the Calcutta studios have a different stylistic approach compared to those of the south Indian printing presses. 

Shree Laxmi

Shree Vasudeo Picture Company, 1928

Although this print was published in Bombay, it was printed in Germany and re-imported to India. This was common practice in the early days of printing devotional lithographs. Ravi Varma was the first Indian lithographer to import the printing press machinery from Germany to his own art studio and press. 


Thakor Art Works, 1937 

This is a common depiction of Shiva as an ascetic, seated on a tiger skin signifying his power over the world. From the top of his head, the sacred River Ganga flows. 

Sita Ravan Palayan

Ravi Udaya Press, early 20th century

In this print, Ravana, the 10-headed king of the demons, is kidnapping Sita. She is leaving a trail of jewellery so that Rama can find her. 

Ravi Varma Press
Clay Gods
Stories of the Gods