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Avatars of Vishnu, the exchange of babies

circa 1775


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Bengal India
    circa 1775
    Media category
    Materials used
    watercolour on paper
    9.5 x 14.5 cm (image); 13.0 x 18.3 cm (sheet)
    Gift of Dr Jim Masselos 2021
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    Krishna was born to oppose his uncle, the evil king Kamsa, who believed a prophecy that a son of his sister would destroy him. To protect baby Krishna from that fate, the child’s father Vasudeva placed the child in a basket and secretly took him from the palace in which he was born to live with foster parents in a cow herding village on the other side of the river. The precious child was protected on the journey by a tiger and a serpent. The painting shows Vasudeva fording the river with the child held high above this head. In the lower right corner, Krishna’s foster mother Yashoda holds the daughter she will exchange for Krishna.