Holy Cow, 1994, acrylic, airbrush on paper, sold

The cow represented here is not just any cow, but a special one. Such cows belong to a community of wandering saints who travel all over India to tell the future and answer believers’ questions. The cow answers questions by shaking her head “yes” or “no”. If the questions are private, then the person can whisper their question into the cow’s ear.

Such cows do not look like the ordinary ones that you see on the streets of India. They have deformities that usually sprout around their neck and spine. I have even seen one that had two legs hanging out from the back of its spine.

These animals are walking pieces of arts and crafts. They are beautifully decorated.  Some have photographs of gods and goddesses hanging from their neck and wear hand embroidered garments. They also carry, buckets, mugs, jugs and the like for their owners. 

The wandering saints lead a frugal life. They own very little and walk around with small yellow pouch like bags hanging from their shoulders. They live on what those who come with questions give them.

The cow in this painting has a very peaceful and trusting look in her eye. She is not aware of the unkindness and untrustworthiness of humankind.

This work was done on special paper.  Airbrush was used to refine the details and sharpen them. This painting was made when I had just learned how to use the airbrush and it taught me what was needed to give more depth and definition to details. I later also applied what I had learned to make artworks in other media.

The background was kept white to make sure that the visual focus was on the colourfully dressed cow.