Deep within the terrain of India’s layered history, the cow has invariably remained fundamental for a wide array of social, political and religious structures. Ideations of the cow, in her successive, overlapping lineages of images and material formations, contain extensive amounts of India’s human and cultural narratives. Along the arc of India’s ideological evolutions, leading to present day, the cow’s signification is profoundly intertwined with shifting discourses of sacredness, protection and conflict.
Kamadhenu is derived from Sanskrit meaning, “Wish-Fulfilling Cow”. From sculptures to calendar art, there are many mediums where the image of the cow is depicted, often as a hybrid form with a human female head and bovine body surrounded by gods and goddesses. Even more so, cow milk and milk products permeate every ritual in Hindu practice, their body or bodily product becoming less of a physical subsistence but of a spiritual sustenance.
In the myriad forms she adopts, she is never seen as strange or foreign. To redraw the cow is to understand it less as a species, and more as an singular idea that can be abstracted, multiplied, and dissolved. Her presence (material or being) is a performance in forms less than and more than herself. Here she is drawn, traced, exposed, and hidden through the figures of her anatomy; a fetus, a lung. Still remaining as a religious emblem, an apparatus that is protected, biocultural, and material.