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Art Passages

Krishna The Divine Dalliance


Art Passages Indian and SE Asian Art

Krishna The Divine Dalliance Indian Miniature Paintings from the 17th through the 19th century

Catalogued by Robert J. Del BontĂ

Art Passages, San Francisco, California, USA 1-415-690-9077, info@artpassages.com, www.artpassages.com


Designed by Shapour Ghasemi

Š 2013 by Art Passages. All rights reserved under the Pan-American and International Copyright Conventions.

Cover page: Krishna watches Radha perform Linga Puja, Kishangarh, India, C. 1780


Forward It is with great anticipation and enthusiasm that I present this group of paintings centered around Krishna. I have been fascinated with Krishna for a long time. Perhaps it is because no other god in the Indian pantheon dwells more seamlessly than Krishna does in both the realm of man and that of the divine. Whether one thinks of Krishna as a mischievous little boy with an unquenchable obsession for butter and then acting with god-like powers killing demons, or as a young adolescent teasing the gopis (female cow-maidens) and again accomplishing super-human feats, one can’t help but be in awe of him. His adulthood seems all too human at times with his unrepentant pursuit of Radha as his love interest. At other times, he is yet again facing demons and achieving victory as only a god can. It is out of awe and admiration that these visual recordings of Krishna’s story are presented here. I would like to thank Dr. Robert J. Del Bontà for his excellent research in writing the catalogue entries. I would also like to thank Shapour Ghasemi for his beautiful design and layout of this catalogue. Shawn Ghassemi


Introduction Krishna

One may approach Krishna from various angles. The literature on Krishna offers a combination of traditions involving both a cow-herd god and an epic hero. He exists as both a man with typical foibles and an all-knowing and powerful god. At times texts suggest his godhood by describing him with the usual four arms associated with the god Vishnu of whom he is an incarnation. Later it will turn him back into human form having only two arms, with actions merely hinting at his divine status. There is only one example of Krishna with four arms in the catalogue, cat. no. 30 and iconic images of Krishna with four arms in cat. nos. 32 and 36. The catalogue is organized essentially to tell the story of his life in a chronological manner. We start with the childhood episodes (cat. nos. 1-7) and then move on into his adolescence as a cow-herd, followed by his romantic dalliances (cat. nos. 8-22). After he leaves the life of a cow-herd he appears as an epic hero (cat. nos. 23-24). These two paintings come from an important series of paintings illustrating the Harivamsha. The texts concerning Krishna stress different aspects of the god. In the Mahabharata he is a hero who only rarely shows his divinity. It is with the addition of the Bhagavad Gita within the text during the core of the battle between the Pandava brothers and their cousins the Kauravas that his godhood is clearly displayed. The Harivamsha (probably appended to the earlier Mahabharata around 450 AD) was added to fill in background for Krishna, displaying his godhood that is essentially absent from the epic literature where he is a secondary figure to the main story itself. It also expands on his relationships with the heroes of the Mahabharata. The Bhagavata Purana (also known as the Shrimad Bhagavatam), which was illustrated often, was written even later and further develops his history especially adding stories of his childhood displaying many moments which underscore the fact that Krishna is god. The catalogue ends with an important selection of devotional works, primarily iconic, from the pilgrimage center at Nathadwara (cat. nos. 26-32). These works include some narrative material, but on the whole the intent of the paintings has to do with worship. It is necessary to stress that imbedded in this worship is the physical presence of the god. His devotees relive many of his life events including exploits from his day to day childhood and merely hint at his later amorous dalliances. These Nathadwara paintings are followed by a few pictures that display the worship of Krishna at other North Indian centers (cat. nos. 33-36). Three relate to the Nathadwara sect, while a fourth offers another important Krishna image from a temple associated with the Maharana of Udaipur.

Radha

While Radha is not mentioned in the epic literature, she became increasingly important in the sects devoted to bhakti or direct devotion to the god and she probably appears in at least ten of the paintings, being a focus in cat. nos. 13-22. In the southern part of India Radha does not take on the same prominence, probably due to the illicit nature of Radha and Krishna’s dalliance. In the South, bhakti usually is manifested by stressing the child Krishna, motherly love is as compelling as romantic love (cat. nos. 2-4, 27 and 29). When Krishna as an adult is linked with a female figure in the southern tradition, it is with one of his legal wives; usually Rukmini, but sometimes other important consorts like Satyabhama. Curiously, it is the very illicit nature of the love between Radha and Krishna that makes the metaphor of the love for god more poignant. One gives up everything for the lord.

Nathadwara Paintings

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Nathadwara is the center of the Vallabhacarya Sampradaya sect, followers of the saint Vallabhacarya (14791531). It is also known as Pushtimarg, the Path to Grace. Vallabha had been drawn to the area of Braj (Vraj) where Krishna had spent his childhood. There he discovered the living image of the god on Mount Govardhana, an event depicted in cat. no. 25. The sect focuses on that image of Shri Nathji which is in the pose of lifting this mountain, an important miracle from Krishna’s youth. Other devotional sects in the area focus on other aspects of the god’s history. The image was first housed in a temple on the mountain itself, but later moved to Nathadwara to protect it from the threat of destruction.


Shri Nathji is actually a child god, usually taken to be eternally seven years old. As a swarupa, being self-manifested and not made by man, the image is the god himself and treated as a living presence. Because of this fact, Krishna requires a great deal of attention. Many of the priests who wait on him are descendants of Vallabha, the founder of the sect. A number of other swarupa images were discovered and some are housed in the haveli (the house where the god lives) in Nathadwara along with the Shri Nathji image, but others are housed in temples associated with the sect in other locations. The Pushtimarg sect concentrates on this child image and although there is some reference to Krishna consorting with the gopis or cow-maidens, one must recall that the child is only about seven years old. The emphasis is on devotion, bhakti, to the child god — a motherly and fatherly devotion. This is quite different from other important Vaishnava sects focused on Krishna where devotees approach the god as a lover. One can also play the role of friend, the gopas (cow-herds) and gopis (cow-maidens), or even the role of one of Radha’s friends, the sakhis, in one’s devotion to the Lord. The Bhakta, the practitioner of Bhakti, can approach the god from various directions, but the point is to make a direct, loving connection with the god.

Robert J. Del Bontà

Acknowledgements: I would like to thank the following scholars for discussing some of the inscriptions and paintings with me: Sonal Acharya, Molly Emma Aitken, Joachim Bautze, Debra Diamond, Catherine Glynn, John Stratton Hawley, Rochelle Kessler, Naval Krishna, Kalyan Krishna, Tryna Lyons, and Kay Talwar.

Important books relating to Krishna and the Shri Nathji cult include: Amit Ambalal, Krishna as Shrinathji: Rajasthani Paintings from Nathdwara, Ahmedabad, Mapin, 1987. W. G. Archer, The Loves of Krishna, in Indian Paining and Poetry, New York: Grove Press, n.d. Kalyan Krishna and Kay Talwar, In Adoration of Krishna, Pichhwais of Shrinathji, Tapi Collection, Surat and Mumbai: Garden Silk Mills and New Delhi: Roli Books Private Limited, 2007. Tryna Lyons, The Artists of Nathadwara: The Practice of Painting in Rajasthan, Bloomington: Indian University Press, 2004. Robert Skelton, Rajasthani Temple Hangings of the Krishna Cult, New York: Federation of Arts, 1973.

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reverse side

1. Markandeya’s Vision

Page from an artist’s sketch-book Karnataka, Mysore, mid-19th century Ink and color wash on paper 81/8 x 61/2 in, 20.5 x 16.5 cm

uninscribed

This drawing of the child Krishna lying on a leaf and sucking his toe is far more complicated than it appears on the surface. It relates to a number of myths. Its primary origin is a story from a section of the Mahabharata that tells of the sage Markandeya roaming the cosmic ocean during the period of dissolution when the entire world had been destroyed. He saw a small child floating on a leaf and approached him. He then crawled into the child’s mouth and saw the entire universe. A later suggestion of this seeming contradiction between a tiny child and the full extant of creation occurs when his step-mother Yashoda peers into Krishna’s mouth because he has been eating mud: she sees the entire universe, a glimpse of Krishna’s divine nature that she gets from time to time, only then to forget it. This composition is often labeled as the baby Krishna floating on the Cosmic Sea, which ties the image to that of Vishnu in his sleeping aspect, Anantashayana, during the period when all the world has dissolved and Vishnu sleeps lying on his snake, Ananta, in the Sea of Milk. The reverse side of this drawing depicts the monkey deity Hanuman.

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For a discussion of Markandeya’s vision see: Joan Cummins, Vishnu: Hinduism’s Blue-Skinned Savior, Ahmedabad: Mapin, 2011, pp. 104-05. Krishna also sucks his toe under a cart-demon in Bhagavata Purana. X. 9. 24-25.


reverse side

2. Yashoda with Krishna in her Arms Page from an artist’s sketch-book Karnataka, Mysore, mid-19th century Ink and color wash on paper 81/8 x 61/2 in, 20.5 x 16.5 cm

uninscribed

Krishna is worshipped in many ways; one is as an infant which shows up in a few examples in the catalogue. Krishna was actually the son of Vasudeva and Devaki, the King and Queen of Mathura, but Devaki’s brother Khamsa had usurped the throne. To protect himself from a prophesy, Khamsa kept killing her children. When Krishna was born he was taken from his mother and brought to the village of cow-herds and substituted for a baby girl who had just been born to Yashoda. This was necessary so that Krishna’s evil uncle Khamsa would not kill him. Unaware of the switch Yashoda and her husband raised the child as their own. This drawing also relates to a long tradition of mother goddesses in Indian art where the women are depicted with a child in their arms. Here the baby Krishna is quite animated displaying a rather adult gesture as if he is expounding some deep philosophical doctrine to Yashoda. He carries a decorated flute and the entire drawing is quite lively. 08

The reverse side of the drawing depicts a parrot on an elaborate pedestal.


3. Krishna and Balarama with Yashoda and Nanda From a Sur Sagar series Rajasthan, Mewar, ca. 1680-1700 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 133/4 x 91/2 in, 35 x 24 cm Surdas was a blind poet who lived in the first half of sixteenth century at Agra and has left a large legacy. The poem above the painting describes most of what we see. Krishna and his older brother Balarama demand bread and butter from Yashoda, but she goes on with her household work. Balarama then grabs for the jewel in her nose and Krishna pulls on her braid. The poem then compares these acts to a hamsa bird (a goose, white like Balarama) pecking at pearls and a peacock (Krishna) attacking a snake, scenes depicted below the family group. Nanda, Krishna’s step-father, is flooded with love and Yashoda is filled with happiness at the good deeds done in her past life. Common to the paintings in this series we see the blind Sur Das singing the poem in the lower left. He accompanies himself with small cymbals (manjira). His poems are sung to the tunes of particular ragas, here Dhanyashri as noted at the beginning of the verse. It is unclear who the two men discoursing in the pavilion at the top right may be. Other paintings from the series are found in the San Diego, Los Angeles, Yale, and Baroda museums, and private collections. Illustrating poems from the collection known as the Sur Sagar (the Ocean of Sur [Das]) appear to have been quite popular at Udaipur.

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Appreciation is due for help on reading the poem to John Stratton Hawley. For Surdas and his poetry see his Sūr Dās, Poet, Singer, Saint, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1984.


4. Krishna Tied to the Mortar, Damodara From a Bhagavata Purana series Rajasthan, Mewar, ca. 1690 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 10 x 81/8 in, 25.5 x 20.5 cm In an event from Krishna’s childhood, there is an important event underscoring Krishna’s divinity. The Sanskrit Bhagavata Purana. X. 10 tells the story of the release of two yakshas, Nalakubera and Manigriva, sons of Kubera, who had been transformed into two Arjuna trees. As Krishna crawled on the ground, he dragged the mortar between the trees that were intertwined. This pulled them down and released the two yakshas. The vernacular text above relates to the end of the previous chapter which described Yashoda’s discovery of Krishna stealing butter. To keep him from his antics she tied him to the mortar (Damodara, “tied with a rope”). We see him poised to perform his miracle. The verse suggests that he is still unaware of the trees, since it describes him with butter on his face or body and tears in his eyes. He is accompanied by some of the gopas, the boy cow-herds. The cow-herd’s sticks, vetras, which they carry, are used to prod the animals, but the fact that a group of them with a ball are depicted in the bower suggests that the young cow-herds use them to play some sort of game. The formal setting for this painting is striking, with just enough asymmetry to make it more interesting. The large plantain fronds to the right of the bower balance the three boys to the left in the foreground quite nicely, while the spacing of the boys and Krishna offers another pleasing balance. 12

Appreciation is due for help reading the verse to Sonal Acharya.


reverse side

5. Krishna Quelling Kaliya, Kaliyamardana Page from an artist’s sketch-book Karnataka, Mysore, mid-19th century Ink and color wash on paper 81/8 x 61/2 in, 20.5 x 16.5 cm

uninscribed

One of Krishna’s most popular exploits as a child illustrates both his divine power and his compassion. Kaliya was a threat to the cow-herds because his venom was poisoning the water of the river. When Krishna entered the water, the two got into an impressive combat. Eventually Krishna danced on the head of the serpent, subduing him. Often the scene is depicted in the Yamuna (Jumna) River with the wives of Kaliya pleading for mercy. Here the image is more iconic and less narrative, again underscoring the divine nature of the young Krishna. Catalogue no. 32 includes a small vignette of this scene showing the nagini (snake) wives of Kaliya in the scene. It appears at the very bottom left of the inner row of paintings surrounding the picchavai. There is another drawing of Krishna holding a flute and snake on the reverse. 14

This story is told in the Bhagavata Purana. X. 16.


6. Krishna Fluting, Venugopala

Central India, Madhya Pradesh, Datia, ca. 1760 Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, pearls, and semi-precious stones on paper 113/4 x 87/8 in, 29.8 x 22.5 cm

uninscribed

Krishna is often depicted as Venugopala, playing his flute (the venu), as protector of the cows (go-pala). Here the mannered physiognomy of Krishna is very tall, as are the male figures to his left. Recession into space is suggested by the horizontal bands of land, vegetation, and river that back the main figure. He stands on an elaborate base that is topped by a lotus form. Actual jewels and pearls encrust the throne and figure of Krishna, while the four attendants wear pearls, creating a sumptuous effect. There is a rather varied palette to the whole with intricate colored floral designs at the ends of his sashes, while his main garment is a bright vermillion adorned with a gold pattern. Krishna wears a crown known as a kirtimukuta. The male attendants carry camaras or yak-tail fly-whisks, a sign of the divinity of the figure of Krishna although the gopis and gopas were unaware of his divine nature.

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The mannered style of the figures is somewhat hard to place but there is a similar painting in an album in the Bodleian Library (Douce Or. a.3) which is accompanied only by male devotees and a cow. There are another nine paintings from the same group in the album and they indicate that this highly mannered style is from Datia in Central India.


reverse side

7. Krishna Fluting, Venugopala Page from an artist’s sketch-book Karnataka, Mysore, mid-19th century Ink and color wash on paper 81/8 x 61/2 in, 20.5 x 16.5 cm

uninscribed

In a more typical depiction of Krishna Venugopala, we see him standing in a cross-legged pose. Here he floats in front of a decorated cow who then bends around, fondly licking the god’s heel. It may not be obvious but the implications of bhakti are essential to our reading of this scene. There are many kinds of love and the one for the cow is important to a few of India’s religions. Here Vatsalya, calf love, is equated with maternal love and can become the love for the cow as a maternal symbol. This relationship can then be inverted as seen in the picchavai depicting Gopashtami, catalogue no. 34 where the cows come to the flute-playing Krishna in devotion to him. This in turn relates to the gopis’ and gopas’ devotion and love for Krishna. Bhagavata Purana. X. 21 devotes long passages to the song of the flute and the amorous mood it creates. Representations of actual sculptures of Krishna in this form also appear on the altar depicted in the picchavai, cat. no. 32. 18

There is a drawing of the goddess Lakshmi being lustrated by elephants, known as Gaja Lakshmi, on the reverse.


8. Krishna with the Gopis Under a Tree, Dan-lila Rajasthan, Kotah, ca. 1760 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 113/8 x 81/4 in, 29 x 21 cm

uninscribed

Krishna stands under a tree with his legs crossed at the knee holding his flute and accepting an offering of curds from one of the gopis, cow-maidens. Cows and dog-like calves come to praise the Lord along with a pair of egrets and a group of scampering, colorful ducks. The white Balarama stands to the side holding his plow and seems to acknowledge the gift to his brother. The scene takes place on the bank of a stream and against a mountain form surrounded by distant trees and a sunset. It refers obliquely to the toll of curds, called dan-lila in poetry, seen in cat. no. 9. Eight other paintings in the Bodleain Library (Douce Or. b.3) are clearly from the same series of paintings with identical borders. They represent three incarnations of the god Vishnu (Narasimha, Parashurama, and Buddha), suggesting that this painting could be from a group of the Dasavatara, the ten main incarnations of Vishnu. This also could be a painting from a Ragamala series since the iconography of the dan-lila is sometimes used for Gujari ragini. A published verse, describing a scene with three women, reads: Its time is two hours after sunrise. Three fair-faced damsels are bringing water from the River Jumna. Kisandeo (Krishna) having obstructed their way, he makes jokes with them and does not allow them to proceed. 20

Text from Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, Basel: Ravi Kumar, 1973, p. 146.


9. The Toll of Curds, Dan-Lila Rajasthan, Bikaner, 18th century Ink on paper 8 x 113/4 in, 20 x 30 cm

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uninscribed

This is clearly a representation of the dan-lila, the gift of curds that takes place on Mount Govardhana at the Daan Ghati. Here much activity takes place. Krishna along with the other gopas, cow-herd boys, appears in a raucous scene taking the lotas, pots holding the curds, from the gopis, cow-maidens, and fighting over them. A few broken


pots litter the ground. Krishna himself grabs one of the gopis who turns from him and apparently has lost her pot. The delicate lines of the drawing of the figures contrast with the bolder rendering of the cow-herd’s sticks, vetras, which create a tension in the left hand of the composition absent from the figures of the gopis to the right. Published in: Sotheby’s, The Stuart Cary Welch Collection, Part Two, Arts of India, London 31 May 2011, lot 32. There it was published as Rajasthan, Mewar or Sawar, 18th century, but elements point to Bikaner, especially the faces of a few of the gopis.

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10. Radha Adorns Krishna with a Tilak

Rajasthan, Bundi, ca. 1750 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold (silver or tin?) on paper Folio 101/2 x 71/2 in, 26.5 x 19 cm Painting 81/8 x 51/2 in, 20.5 x 14 cm

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uninscribed

Here the gopis offer obeisance to Krishna; one kneels at his feet while another places an auspicious mark, a tilak, on his forehead. It is possible to identify the woman placing the mark as Radha, but that is not necessary to read this adoration scene as taking place during Krishna’s young adulthood. An attendant gopa holds aloft a camara, a yak-tail fly-whisk, an attribute of royalty. The storm clouds may suggest that this is actually a ragamala painting, one of the raginis, similar to those seen in cat. nos. 11 and 12. But the depiction of the rainy season ties into much of Indian romantic poetry, not just those poems associated with ragamala series. Storm clouds signify the monsoon, conjuring up the idea of love when all of nature becomes lush, springing to life.


11. Krishna Dancing with Gopis, Vasanta ragini

Vasanta ragini from a Ragamala series, ascribed to Ibrahim Rajasthan, Bikaner, ca. early 1690s Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 6 x 47/8 in, 15.5 x 12.5 cm

inscribed on the back

The text on the back states this is Vasanta ragini of Dipak raga and painted by Viraham, who is Ibrahim, the son of the celebrated Bikaneri painter Ruknuddin. The variant of his name is seen in a number of published examples of his work. The title is numbered 21 corresponding to the system of ragamala organization called the ‘Painters System’ in Ebeling’s major work on ragamalas. Vasanta is a ragini of Spring, the time of the rainy season. Framed by a cloud-like massive mountain Krishna dances while accompanying himself on an Indian lute known as a Rudra vina. Two gopis to each side complete the ensemble for his dance. Ibrahim has angled the figure in such a way that his nimble movement is accentuated. The pad of lotus petals at his feet suggests his divinity. Along with the swirling clouds in the sky, the bold colors and minute detailing add a great vitality to the painting. In a popular series of couplets ascribed to the poet Kashyapa, the ragini is described thus: His topknot, bound with peacock feathers, is erect: his face, because of the burgeoning mango-shoot, is as a flower. Elephantlike, in the forest joyfully, he wanders among the gopis, (such is) Vasanta Raga. 26

Text from Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, Basel: Ravi Kumar, 1973, p. 124.


For a discussion of Ruknuddin, his family, and followers see: Naval Krishna, “Bikaneri Miniature Painting Workshop of Ruknuddin, Ibrahim and Nathu,” Lalit Kala 21 (1990), 23-37. For a translation from the Gita Govinda appropriate for this scene see: Ernst and Rose Leonore Waldschmidt, Miniatures of Musical inspiration in the collection of the Berlin Museum of Indian Art, Berlin: Museum für Indische Kunst, 1975, p. 35. Poetic traditions of India share much of the same romantic imagery.

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12. Krishna Dancing with the Gopis, Megha ragini? Possibly Megha ragini from a Ragamala series Bengal, Murshidabad, ca. 1790 Ink, watercolor, and gold on paper 9 x 61/2 in, 23 x 16.5 cm

uninscribed

Although not inscribed, this painting is probably a ragini, either Vasant or Megha. In the iconography of both these raginis Krishna dances, in one for the rains and in the other for the blooms. In their important work on ragamala paintings the Waldschmidts mention that Vasant and Megha are often similar, but in Megha the lotus flower takes the place of the mango blossom in Vasanta. The numerous lotus blossoms in the water suggest that this is meant to be Megha ragini. Krishna dances in an elegant pose and seems intent on the blossoms filling the zig-zagging stream. Two gopis accompany his dance on a drum and cymbals and two others hold umbrellas to shelter their hero from the rain. Playful birds fly about, celebrating Krishna’s dance. In a popular series of couplets ascribed to the poet Kashyapa, the ragini is described thus: Of blue splendor, attached to the roar of the rain-cloud; of tender body and lovely form, proud and playful be — the god of love — is said to be Megha Raga. Text from Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, Basel: Ravi Kumar, 1973, p. 126.

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For another appropriate poem see: Ernst and Rose Leonore Waldschmidt, Miniatues of Musical inspiration in the collection of the Berlin Museum of Indian Art, Berlin: Museum für Indische Kunst, 1975, p. 45.


13. Gopis adore Krishna and Radha on a Swing, The Festival of Jhulan Purnima Rajasthan, Kishangarh, ca.1725-50 Ink and opaque watercolor, on paper 53/8 x 111/4 in, 13.8 x 28.5 cm

uninscribed

Fanning out at the back of a large horizontal tank full of lotuses, a large number of gopis or cow-maidens, play music and celebrate Radha and Krishna standing on a swing under a radiating sun. The scene is repeated in ever smaller versions in background. The festival being observed is Jhulan Purnima, celebrated at the full-moon in the auspicious month of Shravana. To this day worshippers place images of Krishna and Radha on a swing during this festival and their love is celebrated. This is especially true in Brindavan (Vrindavan) where Krishna had grown up. The Kishangarh style is noted for the exaggerated stylized facial types with their elongated curving eyes and the fine treatment of much of the detail. The palette is varied with delicate contrasts. The birds-eye view of the scene is quite appealing with the large tank dominating the foreground, suggesting an intimacy to the festivities behind it where Krishna is the only male figure. Catalogue no. 32 has a depiction of Krishna and Radha on a swing in the group of vignettes surrounding the central grouping, the first one in the inner group at the top right. Jhulam Purnima also features in the top left of the outer row of vignettes that depict each of the festivals celebrated for Shri Nathji himself throughout the year. 30

Published in: Sotheby’s Indian and Southeast Asian Art, New York, September 20, 2005, lot. 118.


13. Gopis adore Krishna and Radha on a Swing, The Festival of Jhulan Purnima

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14. Radha and Krishna

From a Rasikapriya of Keshava Das series Rajasthan, Amber, ca. 1680-1700 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Folio 13 x 8 in, 33 x 20 cm Painting 11 x 61/4 in, 28 x 16 cm

translation of text below

Keshava Das (fl. 1580-1601) composed his popular Rasikapriya in 1591. It consists of a series of poems describing and cataloguing types of male and female lovers, nayakas and nayikas — heroes and heroines. Sets of paintings illustrating verses from this text are found from many centers of art and a number from this particular group are known. Radha, the nayika, first discusses her absent lover with her confidant and then lies on the couch in despair and longing. At the bottom she is reunited with her lover, the crowned Krishna. Radha appears three times suggesting a continuous narrative. This is a common story-telling technique in Indian art, but here the story told is a succession of verses. The architecture is sumptuous and the decoration of the rooms elegant. The large floral forms in the foreground at the right add a bold decorative touch. The verse at the top can be translated as: Savaiya [the name of the metre] The cowmaids of yesterday manage the excitement that emerged in all your hearts today. Unnecessarily, she wastes her time in thinking useless thoughts, brooding, and chanting the name of the beloved. Know that in your absence, that Kanha [Krishna] whom you consider to be naughty, awaits your glimpse just as you await his. 34

Appreciation is due for help on the translation to Sonal Acharya.


15. Krishna Spies on Radha from the Roof Punjab Hills, Nurpur, ca. 1710 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 75/8 x 11 in, 19.5 x 28 cm

uninscribed

The Rasamanjari, composed by the poet Bhanudatta around 1500, is illustrated in a series of paintings from Nurpur around the time our painting was created. That text is concerned with the classification of lovers, usually referred to as nayakas and nayikas — heroes and heroines. Catalogue no. 14 from a later series of poems by Keshav Das also deals with these lovers. Much Indian love poetry concerns separated lovers, reveling in the pangs of separation and longing. In this case Krishna stands in for the nayaka while Radha is the nayika. Krishna watches Radha and her sakhis, friends, from above a door leading onto the terrace where the elaborate pavilion stands. Radha holds a jewel-like golden flower while two ladies attend her and a third holds a camara over her head. A fourth attendant crouches in the doorway leading onto the terrace. Radha is unaware of Krishna’s gaze. Perhaps he is putting off showing himself so that he can hear her speak of her longing for him: their reunion can be that much sweeter. 36

Published in: Sotheby’s, Fine Oriental Miniatures and Manuscripts, London 11 Dec 73, lot 340.


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15. Krishna Spies on Radha from the Roof


16. Radha and Krishna

Rajasthan, Jodhpur, 19th century Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 111/2 x 93/8 in, 29.3 x 24 cm

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uninscribed

Krishna and Radha stand at a jharokha (balcony-like window) gazing longingly into each other’s eyes. A patterned rug hangs over the balustrade of the balcony and a rolled piece of cloth above can be lowered to screen off the window. Curiously lush vegetation seems to be growing in the room of the window, since the receding walls are behind the plants. The whole is encircled by an oval with decorated corners and borders. Similar to a few other paintings in the catalogue the artist has added what became a pan-Rajasthani element: the elongated eyes associated with the Kishangarh style typified by cat. nos. 13 and 22.


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17. Krishna with Radha and Gopis on a Terrace, Madhumadhavi ragini? Possibly Madhumadhavi ragini from a Ragamala series Rajasthan, Jaipur, early 19th century Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 153/4 x 111/2 in, 39.5 x 29 cm

uninscribed

It is possible that this uninscribed album leaf represents Madhumadhavi ragini, the way the figures point to the lightening is essential to the usual depictions of this ragini. Peacocks are also a normal feature of Madhumadhavi. The painting is organized with an elaborate terrace placed upon an equally elaborate basement story. The artist suggests real depth, we can see well inside the entrance at its center. Krishna and Radha embrace in front of a pavilion while two attendants hold morchals, peacock feathered flywhisks, and a third gestures towards the lightening. In a verse by Paida found on Amber ragamalas, the earlier capital of the rulers of Jaipur, the ragini is described thus: The woman is like Rati (Cupid’s wife), her eyes are (of the colour of) red lotus. The lower lips are (?) beautiful and she has peerless speech. She has pure gold-like complexion and yellow dress. The sakhis (female companions) adore her ways (?). the woman smiling kisses. She coils her arms around the neck of the lover. 42

Text from Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, Basel: Ravi Kumar, 1973, p. 138.


18. Radha and Krishna, Sheltering from the Rain Punjab Hills, Kangra, 19th century Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 83/8 x 53/4 in, 21 x 14.5 cm

uninscribed

Radha and Krishna walk along a lotus-filled stream. The sky is filled with clouds of varying shades of gray and lightening menacingly streaking across. The rain comes down in sheets. Placed against a plain grey background flanked by trees, the two are sheltered and silhouetted under an umbrella. Krishna puts his arm around Radha holding her close, while she lifts the hem of her ghaghra, skirt, to keep it from getting wet as they stride forward.

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The landscape appears bleak but remarkably calm despite the fact that the storm has caused the lotuses and their leaves to bend dramatically. The simple landscape with rolling powder-blue hills topped with pink give the impression of remarkable calm to this tryst on a stormy night.


19. A Stormy Tryst, Krishna and Radha in Bed Punjab Hills, Kangra, ca. 1800 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Folio 105/8 x 81/8 in, 27 x 20.5 cm Painting 8 x 51/4 in, 20 x 13.5 cm

untranslated text on the back

Krishna and Radha are lying in bed on a stormy night. Nothing overtly sexual is shown, but Krishna does have his hand on Radha’s naked breast. The impression given is of the aftermath of a sexual act, when the lovers gaze out into the stormy night, streaked with lightening, evoking the intensity of their lovemaking. Radha gestures to a bird peeking out from one of the pillars. The play of perspective with the colonnades of the pavilion at curious angles, letting us see out into the dark skies, underscores the emotion of the scene as well. The perilous quality of the weather is negated by the apparent calm of the couple. The hot orange of the coverlet and the bright red of the bolster and some of the curtains add to the passion of the painting. There is a wonderful contrast between the precise detailing of the lovers and their terrace with its stark white elements and the sketchy quality of the trees, clouds, and lightening against the inky sky. Although the source of the poem on the back has not been identified, it is probably from either the Rasikapriya or Rasamanjari, as are cat. nos. 14, 15, and 20. 46

Provenance: Hugo Munsterberg


20. Krishna and Radha Making Love From a Rasikapriya series, Central India, Malwa, ca. 1640 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 75/8 x 67/8 in, 19.5 x 17.5 cm

numbered 86 and six lines of undeciphered text on the back

This is from a very well known Rasikapriya set from the central Indian region called Malwa. Another painting from a Rasikapriya series is seen in cat. no. 14. Malwa painting tended to be more conservative than similar styles from neighboring Mewar in Rajasthan. The naturalizing influences from Mughal painting are entirely absent here. The setting is typical with a pavilion to one side of the composition and an open vista to the other. Krishna makes love to Radha while a sakhi, a friend of the heroine, stands guard outside the door. Humorously, a monkey faces the sakhi and covers his head out of modesty.

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The elaborate architecture with its geometric forms, which defy a clear reading in space, is also typical of the painting from Malwa. The gargoyle-like head of a makara, a mythical animal that is a combination of elephant and crocodile, holds a flag marking the pavilion as an important structure. A peacock primps himself standing on a shelf that has no apparent support. Krishna is not necessarily part of the original poem; here Krishna is a stand-in for the nayaka who is the hero of this poetic style. The bright colors add to the intensity of the scene, red being a color logically associated with passion in Indian painting.


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21. Krishna in a Boat, Ceta Masa

The month Ceta from a Barahmasa series Rajasthan, Mewar, Udaipur, ca. 1780s Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Folio 103/4 x 83/4 in, 27.5 x 22.3 cm Painting 9 x 71/4 in, 23 x 18.5 cm

numbered 1 and labeled Ceta

The simple word Ceta of the inscription at the top corresponds to the month Chait, identifying this as a painting from a Barahmasa (twelve-month) series. The iconographies of the twelve months vary considerably from place to place. During the month of Chait, which falls in March-April, there is a festival of boats, and this painting suggests such a festival on Lake Pichola in Udaipur. Krishna is seen in a boat either arriving at the lake palace or about to leave. Radha is presumably the lady in the turret. A group of gopis, cow-maidens, greet him and one of them carries a statue of a woman on her head. The statue could reflect taking images of Radha and Krishna for a pleasant boat ride during the festival. This would suggest a living divine presence much like what we see in images of Shri Nathji elsewhere in the catalogue. Stylistically this painting offers a combination of styles: that of Mewar mixed with Bundi or Kotah. A number of artists in Mewar and elsewhere throughout Rajasthan started to adapt stylized elements from other Rajasthani centers during the 18th century and this painting is reminiscent of the work by an artist called Bhopa, who worked in the late eighteenth century.

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For a discussion of Bhopa see: Molly Emma Aitken, The Intelligence of Tradition in Rajput Court Painting, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 228-29, fig. 5路16.


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22. Krishna Watches Radha Perform Linga Puja: Bhairavi ragini? Possibly Bhairavi ragini from a Ragamala series Rajasthan, Kishangarh, ca. 1780 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Folio 121/2 x 9 in, 31.5 x 23 cm Painting 81/2 x 53/8 in, 21.5 x 13.5 cm

uninscribed

Radha performs puja (worship) to a linga, the phallic representation of the god Shiva. She offers flowers, while Krishna in a tree above the ritual object supplies her with a garland to decorate it. Below the figure of Krishna a small vessel drips water onto the linga in a continuous abhishekha, lustration. The water then flows down from the linga to the stream in the foreground. A lamp burns next to the linga and a small book with the word Shri (Lord) written on it is next to the sacred object. Other ritual objects are in front of Radha. Behind Radha two yoginis, female ascetics, are shown. One wears a garment made with patches of various materials appropriate for an ascetic wanderer, very commonly seen in Ragamala paintings. The action takes place on a stormy moonlit night. The worship of Shiva seems oddly inappropriate for this pair, but there is a common scene of another of Vishnu’s incarnations, Rama, performing linga puja at Rameshvaram in southern India. Similar to cat. no. 21 this painting displays a hybridization of styles, combining much Mughal detail with figures of a classical Kishangarh style, typified here by Radha and Krishna. The mountain behind the scene is made up of repeated elements that hark back to the art of Persia. This painting effectively creates an atmospheric mood imbued with devotion and divine love.

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Other examples of this Mughal-Kishangarh hybrid style are found in M.S. Randhawa and D. S. Randhawa , Kishangarh Painting, Bombay: Vakils, Feffer and Simons Ltd., 1980, plates IV & V and the catalogue Indian Painting: Mughal and Rajput and a Sultanate Manuscript, London: P & D Colnaghi & Co Ltd 1978, no. 74.


23. Battle Between Krishna and Nikumbha From a Harivamsha series Pumjab Hills, Kangra, ca. 1820 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Painting 127/8 x 17 in, 32.5 x 43 cm

inscribed with a number 37 on the reverse

Krishna, his son Pradyumna, and his friend Arjuna faught Nikumbha after the demon abducted the girl Bhanumati. In a long and detailed account Pradyumna has saved her. The three then confront Nikumbha in battle. We see Nikumbha and Krishna at various stages of the fight. Pradyumna has fallen over on his chariot and Arjuna riding Krishna’s mythical mount Garuda also has been stunned. Both Krishna and Nikumbha are seen five times, creating a dynamic narrative; Nikumbha fights with a gada or mace and Krishna uses a mace and carries a bow. The denouement is when Nikumbha strikes Krishna on the head and he falls to the ground. The god Indra, riding his elephant Airavata in the clouds populated by all sorts of demi-gods, sprinkles fluid to revive Krishna. This painting and cat. no. 24, which follows it in time, are from an important set illustrating the Harivamsha, an addition to the Mahabharata that tells life stories of Krishna, his clan, vamsha, is known as Hari. It covers much of the same territory as does the latter part of Book X of the Bhagavata Purana, but includes many exploits like this one not found there. Seeing Arjuna and Pradyumna becoming unconscious after being struck heavily, Govinda (Krishna, gada is his mace) became highly angry and attacked Nikumbha. (36) The elder brother of Gada (Krishna) took up his mace kaumodaki. Those valiant, difficult to conquer, roared and attacked each other. (37)… Like roaring bulls, trumpeting elephants and angry wolves, they attacked each other within the instance of closing the eyelids. (42) With a terrible roar, the valiant Nikumbha struck the elder brother of Gada (Krishna,) with his mace having eight bells. (43)… Then the entire world became distressed, O the lord of men … since the great soul, the son of Vasudeva (Krishna) became unconscious. (46) The lord of devas, Indra himself, sprinkled a mixture of nectar and the cold fragrant water of the divine Ganga [the Ganges river] on Krishna. (47) … Mahabharata, Harivamsha, Vishnu Parva 2. 90. 36-48.

This is taken from an English translation of Chapter 90 of the Harivamsha by Desiraju Hanumanta Rao, see online: 54

http://mahabharata-resources.org/harivamsa/vishnuparva/hv_2_090.html


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23. Battle Between Krishna and Nikumbha


24. Krishna and Pradyumna Rescue Arjuna From a Harivamsha series Punjab Hills, Kangra, ca. 1820 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Painting 127/8 x 17 in, 32.5 x 43 cm

inscribed with a number 43 on the reverse

This event takes place just a little after the original fight between Krishna and Nikumbha seen in cat. no. 23. There apparently were five intervening paintings in this series. Arjuna has been captured by Nikumbha. Nikumbha, who had been granted the ability to duplicate himself into multiple forms, takes the dazed Arjuna up into the sky. We see Arjuna five times: lifted into the air and then held by five of the Nikumbhas in the center as described in the text. Krishna and his son Pradyumna attempt to save their friend by shooting arrows at the Nikumbhas floating above. The artist has created a wonderful pattern with the repeated orange Nikumbhas riding on cotton-ball clouds. The purple blood flowing like streamers from the demons adds a shimmering quality to the rather static forms. Krishna on Garuda and his son Pradyumna in a chariot appear as twins, intently focused on their archery. Thousands (of Nikumbhas) fought with Krishna, O the oppressor of enemies! ‌, thousands fought with the son of Pritha (Arjuna [another name of Kunthi, his mother]) and thousands fought with the valiant son of Rukmini. This was a wonder. (56) Some of the great demons (Nikumbhas) held the bow of the Pandava (Arjuna), some others held his hand, some other great demons held his feet. (57) Holding the valiant (Arjuna) in this manner, they rose up in the sky. Then there were crores [a crore is ten million] of sons of Pritha held this way. (58) Neither Krishna nor the son of Krishna (Pradyumna), the destroyers of enemies, could see an end to this. They cut off the Nikumbhas by shooting arrows, avoiding the son of Partha (Arjuna). (59) O the one of Bharata race, Those split in two parts became one again. Lord Krishna who had divine knowledge understood this. (60) The slayer of Madhu (Krishna) realized the true form of Nikumbha, who created hundreds of illusions, the one who took away the one, born under the star of Phalguni (Arjuna). (61) Mahabharata, Harivamsha, Vishnu Parva 2. 90. 56-61.

This is taken from an English translation of Chapter 90 of the Harivamsha by Desiraju Hanumanta Rao, see online: 58

http://mahabharata-resources.org/harivamsa/vishnuparva/hv_2_090.html


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24. Krishna and Pradyumna Rescue Arjuna


25. Vallabhacharya with Shri Nathji on Mount Govardhana From a Shri Nathji series Rajasthan, Nathadwara, ca. Early 19th century Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 91/8 x 115/8 in, 23 x 29.5 cm

uninscribed

This depicts Vallabhacharya’s first meeting with Shri Nathji. Arriving in Mathura in 1493, Vallabhacharya was told tales about a cow feeding the god daily on Mount Govardhana. This is illustrated at the top left with the image of the young Krishna still inside the mountain under the cow’s udders. Slowly the image manifested itself, finally fully revealed only when Vallabhacarya was present. Krishna greeted Vallabhacharya, who then built a temple to Krishna as the lord of Mount Govardhana. To the right we see the temple ready to receive Krishna. Groups of devotees, members of the cult known as Pushtimarg, the Path of Grace, are seen in the middle ground. The town of Brindavan (Vrindavan), one of Krishna’s childhood villages, is seen at the bottom of the painting. In 1670 the image set up in that temple was moved to protect it from being destroyed and brought to Nathadwara, near the city of Udaipur, the capital of Mewar in Rajasthan. Nathadwara remains a very important pilgrimage center. Krishna had performed an important miracle of lifting Mount Govardhana to shelter the entire group of cow-herds from a deluge sent by the god Indra, so the mountain was already quite auspicious. Depictions of this famous image are seen in cat. nos. 27-31, 33, and 35. The pose is of Krishna in the process of lifting the mountain with his left arm raised. The discovery of the image relates to an important concept in Hinduism of self-manifesting images of the gods, known as swarupa. The mountain itself can serve as a manifestation of the lord as well. 62

Provenance: Waddington and Tooth Galleries, London


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25. Vallabhacharya with Shri Nathji on Mount Govardhana


26. Shri Nathji, Representing the Festival of Gopashtami Rajasthan, Nathadwara, 19th century Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 191/4 x 141/4 in, 49 x 36.5 cm

uninscribed

This painting can be compared to cat. no. 33, a Picchavai which also relates to the Festival of Gopashtami where another form of Krishna stands above a bevy of cows. In this case the painting depicts the Shri Nathji image in front of a cloth hanging, another picchavai. These cloth hangings often were placed behind an image to create the frame associated with the many festivals celebrated for the god. At the bottom, at Shri Nathji’s feet, are a number of auspicious objects. These are a banta (snack box filled with sweets — laddus), pan-bida (a pair of folded betel leaves) and a jhari (decorated water jug) filled with Yamuna water (the Yamuna is associated with the region of Krishna’s formative years). One must recall that the self-manifested image of Shri Nathji is treated as a living person, so these are necessary treats for him. These items are common to even the simplest of paintings of the image. Although the sculpture is placed in a haveli, a house-like setting rather than a temple proper, the icon acts as the principal focus of devotion. The image wears clothes that are constantly changed to correspond to times of the day and of the religious calendar. Here he wears a flared skirt, scarves and lotus garlands and sports a cow-herd’s cap surmounted by the moracandrika, a peacock crest on the headdress. The image is treated as a living presence of the god, tied to narratives of his life.

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By keeping the image in the gesture of lifting Mt. Govardhana or in the pose of the young cow-herd playing the flute, the living narrative is never far from the minds of the devotees. Other paintings in this catalogue underline this quality by depicting actual exploits of Krishna, particularly ones that have to do with his boyhood. Shri Nathji is after all a small child and not the fully grown romancer and hero seen elsewhere in the catalogue.


27. The Worship of Shri Nathji

From a Shri Nathji series Rajasthan, Nathadwara, 1829 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 131/4 x 93/4 in, 33.5 x 25 cm

numbered 5 and dated VS 1885 on the back

Catalogue nos. 27-30 are from a set of paintings related to the eight daily darshanas or rituals associated with the Pushtimarg sect at Nathadwara. The texts accompanying them are numbered, but the actual events depicted do not suggest a strict chronological order for the life of Krishna or even a strict sequence of the darshanas as they take place during the day. The eight darshanas are: Mangala, waking up the image; Shringara, decorating or dressing the image; Gvala, Krishna leading the cows out to graze; Rajbhoga, the midday meal; Utthapana, awakening the image after a three hour nap; Bhoga, the afternoon meal; Sandhya Arati, returning at twilight with the cows; and Shayana, going to sleep.

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Perhaps this painting is associated with the first of these rituals, awakening the image with music in the two lower registers and also worshipping him with a performance of arati. Shri Nathji, wearing a fanned out kachani, the full skirt associated with images of Krishna dancing, greets the devotees. The costume is identical to that of cat. no. 26 and includes a long scarf, the dupatta blowing out in the wind. The figures directly next to Shri Nathji against the blue ground probably are actually a picchavai behind the figure. To his left we see his step-parents which may suggest the child’s birthday celebration known as Janmashtami. Another possibility is Nandamahotsava, a festival celebrated by Nanda, his step-father.


28. Shri Nathji Scenes

From a Shri Nathji series Rajasthan, Nathadwara, 1829 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 93/4 x 133/8 in, 25 x 34 cm

numbered 7 and dated VS 1885 on the back

It is clear from the numbering of the headings on these paintings from the same set (cat. nos. 27-30) that the order does not follow the daily rituals. The many verses attached to the folios appear to relate stories of the scenes depicted in paintings themselves, but are primarily of a devotional nature. Here Krishna is older than in the scenes depicted in cat. nos. 29 and 30. First Shri Nathji is worshipped at the left. The image is backed by a picchavai relating to that of Gopashtami, the festival of cows seen elsewhere in the catalogue. At the right, he herds the cows with his brother Balarama and his friends the other gopas, cow-herds. He is also seen fluting on a small mound, Mount Govardhana. At the bottom right gopis, cow-maidens, come to greet their beloved friend. This implies either the third darshana of the day, Gvala, when he takes the cows out to graze or the seventh, Sandhya Art, when he returns.

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Shri Nathji is dressed as in the last painting, but without the lotus bud for the image in the temple. The gopis are gaily dressed in skirts, ghaghras, and head scarves, odhnis, while the gopas are in plain dhotis. Curiously they all wear crowns on their heads belying their rustic status.


29. Shri Nathji Scenes

From a Shri Nathji series Rajasthan, Nathadwara, 1829 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 93/4 x 131/8 in, 24.5 x 33.5 cm

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numbered 11 on the back

Probably representing the second darshana of the day, Shringara, The painting is packed with incident. The figures of Krishna and his brother Balarama are repeated often, lying as infants on their charpois or cots along with other childhood scenes. The traditions surrounding these daily celebrations for Shri Nathji include many familiar domestic activities. We see Krishna with his step-mother Yadhoda in several registers. Rohini, the birth-mother of Balarama, is also seen and takes part in the daily ritual of life with the cow-herds. The older boys are wrestling and perhaps Krishna is learning to walk at center top. We also see the shrine of Shri Nathji three times. The image is dressed for the summer, the hot weather requires very little clothing and he merely wears malla kacha, muslin shorts. Catalogue no. 30 appears to take the story of his life a bit further with him doing more grown up activities.


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29. Shri Nathji Scenes


30. Shri Nathji Scenes

From a Shri Nathji series Rajasthan, Nathadwara, 1829 Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 95/8 x 131/4 in, 24.5 x 33.5 cm

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numbered 10 on the back

This appears to be a combination of darshanas, possibly a painting that includes most if not all of the day’s rituals. Shri Nathji at the top right is dressed in adbandha, a dhoti that is then thrown over the shoulder, for summer. He may have just been awakened, Mangala darshana. The next Rajbhoga darshana, the midday meal, is prepared right below the shrine. We also see Shri Nathji with cows in various configurations. For Gvala darshana he brings the cows out to graze, but he also seems to be returning with them and putting them into their pens, Sandhya Arati darshana. He even milks a cow in the center of the composition. Perhaps the figure of him with four arms is when he is given a flute to play before he goes to sleep. His form with four arms conforms to his true godhood, which is markedly different from the two armed versions seen elsewhere in this catalogue. At the top left he is seated at the open door of the Singh Pol, leading to the room in the haveli at Nathadwara where Shri Nathji sleeps.


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31. A Priest of Shri Nathji

Rajasthan, Nathadwara, ca. early 19th century Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 91/2 x 61/4 in, 24 x 16 cm

uninscribed

A priest presumably from the temple at Nathadwara is shown seated in prayer on a carpet leaning against a bolster. His right hand is in a prayer sock (gomukhi) and he is probably keeping track of his prayers by counting beads. Although the overall effect is one of quiet asceticism, he is adorned with a great deal of elaborate jewelry, underlining the great wealth of the religious center. He wears rings, bracelets and armlets and luxurious necklaces. His ear ornament is a wonderful echo of the overall roundness of the forms. His dhoti fans out in an elaborate fashion. The cusped arch consisting of decorated marble adds even more to the sumptuous quality of this sensitive portrait. The gomukhi can be compared to one below the female devotee in cat. no. 34 where it actually takes the shape of a cow’s head, the meaning of the term. 78

Provenance: Peter Cochrane, London


32. Picchavai for the Festival of Annakuta (the Mountain of Food) Sapta Swarupa Annakutotsava Rajasthan, Nathadwara, 19th century Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on cotton 92 x 96 in, 233 x 243 cm

specific festivals are labeled

The main image of Shri Nathji and other statues of Krishna are depicted on the altar of the temple at Nathadwara, one of the most vital living temples in northern India. A huge pile of rice representing Mount Govardhana and vessels full of food are placed below the images while two of the main priests of the temple flank the images at their level. The one on the left holds a lamp and performs a ritual called arati. Male devotees are arranged below the priests with women at the bottom, all with their heads covered. At the very bottom cows decorated with auspicious handprints and cow-herds create a decorative band. Four of the most powerful gods in their celestial vehicles hover in the sky above the temple roof: Indra, Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva.

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The small vignettes that encircle this picchavai serve dual purposes; the twenty-six on the outside (all labeled) depict first an important saint, followed by Shri Nathji in each of the twenty-four festivals (utsavas) during the year, ending with another important saint, the one who first discovered the self-manifest image of Shri Nathji, an event seen in cat. no. 25. These twenty-four festivals are performed in accordance to the phases of the moon throughout the year, so festival days are always only a few weeks apart. Shri Nathji’s costume and the rituals vary depending on the festivals being celebrated.


Annakuta is celebrated at the time of Diwali, in the autumn. The inside row of twenty-four vignettes offer depictions of scenes from the life of Krishna including his subjugation of the snake Kaliya at the beginning of the sequence to the left, corresponding to cat. no. 5. A number of others suggest his amorous dalliances and life as a cow-herd. The main image itself relates to an important scene during Krishna’s life, his arm is raised in the form of lifting Mount Govardhana to protect the cow-herds and cows from a torrential downpour. Annakuta commemorates that event with the mound of rice symbolizing the mountain. Swarupas, self-manifested images of the god Krishna associated with the Pustimarg sect, are arranged below the main cult figure. All of these images are believed to be the god himself and also require constant attention from the devout. Unlike other depictions of Shri Nathji in the catalogue, he wears a crown called gokarna mukta in the shape of cow’s ears.

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32. Picchavai for the Festival of Annakuta (the Mountain of Food) Sapta Swarupa Annakutotsava


33. Picchavai depicting Venugopala the Festival of Gopashtami Rajasthan, Kishangarh. 19th century Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on cotton 66 x 58 in, 167 x 147 cm

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uninscribed

Although associated with the Pustimarg sect, the main object of devotion in this picchavai is not Shri Nathji. This represents the festival of Gopashtami celebrating the graduation of Krishna from a herd-boy who took care of calves to a full fledged, mature cow-herder. As seen in cat. no. 32 a number of self-manifested images of Krishna are in the pose of Venugopala. An especially important figure is known as Gokulacandramaji, the moon of Gokul where he grew up. All of these figures are in a tribhanga (three bended) pose and have their legs crossed and do not stand rigidly in samabhanga (no bend) firmly on the ground as does this Krishna. Venugopala is quite rigid here, while he is in a more relaxed pose with his feet crossed in the Jaipur and Mysore examples, cat. nos, 6 and 7. In a narrative context, Krishna playing a flute is seen standing flat on his two feet atop a mound (Mount Govardhana) in cat. no. 28. Here Krishna’s costume bears much in common with the figures of Shri Nathji in the catalogue, especially cat. no. 32. The objects at his feet also relate to the objects at Shri Nathji’s feet suggesting his placement within a temple setting. The overall effect with the lush vegetation and the lively diminutive cows above a dancing lotus-filled stream is particularly appealing.


Where one can envision the picchavai seen in catalogue 32 as being used to back the image of Shri Nathji, this appears to stand alone as an object of worship. It displays a rather formal symmetry with the figure of Krishna under a mustachioed moon, relating to his title, and trees of various types are nearly mirror images. The elegant, wasp-waisted gopis dressed in skirts (ghaghras), tight bodices (colis), and diaphanous head coverings (odhnis) to each side sport the sinuous eyes that are the earmark of Kishangarh. These eyes were adopted at many other Rajasthani centers as artists of other regional styles came into contact with the art of Kishangarh.

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34. The Worship of Shri Sakal Guvani Dhyan Lal Ji (Shri Nathji) Rajasthan or Gujarat, early 19th century Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 11 x 135/8 in, 28 x 34.5 cm

inscribed

This painting underscores the wide distribution of the Shri Nathji cult. Rather than strictly follow the conventions of the Nathadwara style, it is merely a reference to that center. The figure of Shri Nathji is copied rather faithfully, but the river Yamuna (labeled as Jaumna Rani Ji) standing beside him is very different from the usual depictions of the river goddess from Nathadwara itself where she usually stands sideways and holds up a garland and some lotus blossoms. Shri Nathji and Yamuna are identified by titles not found at Nathadwara.

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The Gujarati inscription (written in Devanagari script) identifies the devotees as the unmarried Maharaja Daulat Ramji and his sister Shri Bayiji. Each sit in prayer with downcast eyes and are surrounded by accoutrements of worship: spouted vessels filled with holy water on little stands, peacock fans, underarm supports, various objects on a low table with some texts, and in the case of the sister, an elaborate gomukhi, prayer sock, which actually takes the shape of a cow’s head, the meaning of the term. It can be compared to the plainer one seen in cat. no. 34.


The central section of the painting could easily be a picchavai hanging between the two arched spaces which frame the two devotees. The figure below Shri Nathji is Navanitapriyaji, a statue of Kirshna holding a butter ball. This swarupa Krishna is housed near the chamber of the main icon in the haveli at Nathadwara. Shri Nathji wears a wrestler’s lower garment and a tipara (a cow-herds’ cap) on his head. The repetition of the two cows flanking the two images is particularly felicitous.

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34. The Worship of Shri Sakal Guvani Dhyan Lal Ji (Shri Nathji)


35. A Ruler Adoring Brijnathji

Rajasthan, Kotah, ca. 1780 Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper Folio 121/2 x 95/8 in, 31 x 24.5 cm Painting 101/4 x 71/2 in, 26 x 19 cm

uninscribed

Brijnathji, a small image of Krishna, appears on a small throne along with his love Radha. The image was given to Maharao Bhim Singh of Kotah (r. 1707-20) when he became a follower of the Vallabha Sampraday, the Pushtimarg sect. He installed the image in the palace and since 1717 it is regarded as the tutelary divinity of the state. This image is in essence the actual ruler of the Kotah. Here the ruler holding the peacock morchal must be Durjan Salji of Kotah (reigned 1723-56), although he is usually shown with pock marks on his face. He is accompanied in worship by a woman holding a camara, yak-tail fly-whisk, and another noble. Female musicians — one playing the pakhawaj drum, another the stringed tambura, and two ladies with cymbals — and a dancer entertain the god.

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The religious practices conducted in the Kotah royal palace is discussed by Woodman Taylor in Gods, Kings, and Tigers: the Art of Kotah, Stuart Cary Welch, ed., New York: Prestel, 1997, pp. 61-72.


36. Maharana Sarup Singh Worships Jagannatha Rai Rajasthan, Udaipur, 1840-50s Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 141/8 x 107/8 in, 36 x 27.5 cm

uninscribed

An important temple in the capital city of Udaipur is the Jagdish Mandir, which is dedicated to a Krishna image called Jagannatha Rai (Lord of the World). Maharana Jagat Singh I built the temple and it was completed in 1651. Here Maharana Sarup Singh (reigned 1842-61) worships this important icon. The sculpture is most likely related directly to the Charbhuja image set up in 1444 during the reign of Maharana Kumbha (1433-1468) in a temple in Garhbor village north of Udaipur. Although not seen in this heavily dressed sculpture, these images depict Krishna with four arms, carrying the usual weapons associated with Vishnu. Unlike Shri Nathji, they transcend narrative and function more as representations of the god Vishnu. The festival being celebrated is Dussehra, a celebration of good over evil. Many images are dressed for that occasion with shields and swords and other weapons, so that the god can combat evil. This is even done for the Shri Nathji image at Nathadwara. Where Shri Nathji is worshipped widely, this sculpture of Jagannatha Rai is more localized and is an auspicious, potent image for the Mewar ruling family. A number of paintings featuring other Maharanas worshiping this sculpture are known.

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For a painting of Shri Nathji depicted with weapons for Dussehra, see Joachim K. Bautze, “Time of the Maharajas as Reflected in Indian Painting from Kota,” in Figurations of Time in Asia: Morphomata, vol. 4, Dietrich Borschung and Corinna Wessels-Mevissen, eds., Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag and Cologne: the Internationales Kolleg Morphomata, University of Köln, 2012, plate 15.


Index 1. Markandeya’s Vision

p. 06

2. Yashoda with Krishna in her Arms

p. 08

3. Krishna and Balarama with Yashoda and Nanda

p. 10

4. Krishna Tied to the Mortar, Damodara

p. 12

5. Krishna Quelling Kaliya, Kaliyamardana

p. 14

6. Krishna Fluting, Venugopala

p. 16

7. Krishna Fluting, Venugopala

p. 18

8. Krishna with the Gopis Under a Tree, Dan-lila

p. 20

9. The Toll of Curds, Dan-Lila

p. 22

10. Radha Adorns Krishna with a Tilak

p. 24

11. Krishna Dancing with Gopis, Vasanta ragini

p. 26

12. Krishna Dancing with the Gopis, Megha ragini?

p. 28

13. Gopis adore Krishna and Radha on a Swing, The Festival of Jhulan Purnima

p. 30

14. Radha and Krishna

p. 34

15. Krishna Spies on Radha from the Roof

p. 36

16. Radha and Krishna

p. 40

17. Krishna with Radha and Gopis on a Terrace, Madhumadhavi ragini?

p. 42

18. Radha and Krishna, Sheltering from the Rain

p. 44

19. A Stormy Tryst, Krishna and Radha in Bed

p. 46

20. Krishna and Radha Making Love

p. 48

21. Krishna in a Boat, Ceta Masa

p. 50

Page from an artist’s sketch-book; Karnataka, Mysore, mid-19th century; Ink and color wash on paper Page from an artist’s sketch-book; Karnataka, Mysore, mid-19th century; Ink and color wash on paper

From a Sur Sagar series; Rajasthan, Mewar, ca. 1680-1700; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

From a Bhagavata Purana series; Rajasthan, Mewar, ca. 1690; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Page from an artist’s sketch-book; Karnataka, Mysore, mid-19th century; Ink and color wash on paper

Central India, Madhya Pradesh, Datia, ca. 1760; Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, pearls, and semi-precious stones on paper

Page from an artist’s sketch-book; Karnataka, Mysore, mid-19th century; Ink and color wash on paper Rajasthan, Kotah, ca. 1760; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Rajasthan, Bikaner, 18th century; Ink on paper

Rajasthan, Bundi, ca. 1750; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold (silver or tin?) on paper

Vasanta ragini from a Ragamala series, ascribed to Ibrahim; Rajasthan, Bikaner, ca. early 1690s; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Possibly Megha ragini from a Ragamala series; Bengal, Murshidabad, ca. 1790; Ink, watercolor, and gold on paper Rajasthan, Kishangarh, ca.1725-50; Ink and opaque watercolor, on paper

From a Rasikapriya of Keshava Das series; Rajasthan, Amber, ca. 1680-1700; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Punjab Hills, Nurpur, ca. 1710; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

Rajasthan, Jodhpur, 19th century; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

Possibly Madhumadhavi ragini from a Ragamala series; Rajasthan, Jaipur, early 19th century; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Punjab Hills, Kangra, 19th century; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Punjab Hills, Kangra, ca. 1800; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

From a Rasikapriya series; Central India, Malwa, ca. 1640; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

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The month Ceta from a Barahmasa series; Rajasthan, Mewar, Udaipur, ca. 1780s; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper


22. Krishna Watches Radha Perform Linga Puja: Bhairavi ragini?

p. 52

23. Battle Between Krishna and Nikumbha

p. 54

24. Krishna and Pradyumna Rescue Arjuna

p. 58

25. Vallabhacharya with Shri Nathji on Mount Govardhana

p. 62

26. Shri Nathji, Representing the Festival of Gopashtami

p. 66

27. The Worship of Shri Nathji

p. 68

28. Shri Nathji Scenes

p. 70

29. Shri Nathji Scenes

p. 72

30. Shri Nathji Scenes

p. 76

31. A Priest of Shri Nathji

p. 78

32. Picchavai for the Festival of Annakuta (the Mountain of Food) Sapta Swarupa Annakutotsava

p. 80

33. Picchavai depicting Venugopala the Festival of Gopashtami

p. 84

34. The Worship of Shri Sakal Guvani Dhyan Lal Ji (Shri Nathji)

p. 86

35. A Ruler Adoring Brijnathji

p. 90

36. Maharana Sarup Singh Worships Jagannatha Rai

p. 92

Possibly Bhairavi ragini from a Ragamala series; Rajasthan, Kishangarh, ca. 1780; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper From a Harivamsha series; Pumjab Hills, Kangra, ca. 1820; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper From a Harivamsha series; Punjab Hills, Kangra, ca. 1820; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

From a Shri Nathji series; Rajasthan, Nathadwara, ca. Early 19th century; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Rajasthan, Nathadwara, early 19th century; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

From a Shri Nathji series; Rajasthan, Nathadwara, 1829; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper From a Shri Nathji series; Rajasthan, Nathadwara, 1829; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper From a Shri Nathji series; Rajasthan, Nathadwara, 1829; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper From a Shri Nathji series; Rajasthan, Nathadwara, 1829; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Rajasthan, Nathadwara, ca. early 19th century; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Rajasthan, Nathadwara, 19th century; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on cotton Rajasthan, Kishangarh. 19th century; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on cotton

Rajasthan or Gujarat, early 19th century; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Rajasthan, Kotah, ca. 1780; Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Rajasthan, Udaipur, 1840-50s; Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

Krishna The Divine Dalliance Indian Miniature Paintings from the 17th through the 19th century

Art Passages, San Francisco, California, USA 1-415-690-9077, info@artpassages.com, www.artpassages.com

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Krishna The Divine Dalliance  

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