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Sharad Purnima festival painting

mid 19th century


Unknown Artist


A 'picchvai' is a large-scale painting produced to be hung in a Pushti Marg shrine. The Pushti Marg (Path of Grace) is a Hindu sect that focuses on the worship of Krishna. This 'picchvai' depicts the Sharad Purnima festival, which takes place during the Autumn full moon. It is the time for 'rasalila', when Krishna and the 'gopis' (cowgirls) dance and play together in the forest. This festival was particularly popular as a 'picchvai' subject, being considered an instance of a soul’s ecstatic union with god. This image would probably have been hung several days prior to the festival night, as it does not show the dancing itself.

The image is of Krishna with his hand raised in dance, and surrounded by 'gopis'. His feet pointing to each side and his rounded face both suggest a mid-nineteenth century date. The white background behind Krishna is a curtain the colour of moonlight that is appropriate for the time of year and the impending festival. The starry night sky reminds the viewer that the Sharad Purnima festival is coming. In the sky are six flying boats holding gods and sages. The inset images below the main one represent people and events connected with the Pushti Marg sect. The large panel below Shri Nathji displays the Govardhan 'puja' (when Krishna’s defeat of Indra is celebrated) on the left. On the right the 'gopis' gather around Krishna. On the right and left sides of the painting are boxes of standing figures paying homage to Krishna. At the bottom of the painting is a narrow strip of water filled with lotus leaves and flowers. This represents the River Jumna, the site of many of Krishna’s life events. The row of cows belongs to the 'gopis' drawn to Krishna. The painting is surrounded by a narrow band of flowers.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, June 2011.


Place where the work was made

Nathdwara Rajasthan India


mid 19th century

Media category


Materials used

picchvai, painting on cotton ground


271.8 x 251.5 cm


Purchased 2011


Not on display

Accession number


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 3 publications


Emma Glyde, Look, 'To the moon', pg22-23, Sydney, Mar 2013, 23(colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Look, 'One hundred flowers: Recent Asian acquisitions', pg. 34-35, Sydney, Nov 2011, 35 (colour illus.).

Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2009–10, Sydney, 2010, 87 (colour illus.).