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Krishna and the gopis

circa 1980s


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Madhubani Bihar India
    Cultural origin
    Madhubani or Mithila painting
    circa 1980s
    Media category
    Materials used
    pen and ink on paper
    54.4 x 75.0 cm sight; 73.7 x 93.0 x 1.7 cm frame
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Claudia Hyles 1999
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Copyright reserved

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    For centuries, Hindu women around Madhubani, in the Mithila region of Bihar, India, have decorated the walls of their village homes with vivid paintings to ward off evil, mark festivals, and commemorate passage rites. This longstanding tradition, however, remained largely unknown to outsiders until the late 1960s, when a severe drought, lasting up to two years, had a devastating impact on the region’s predominantly agrarian society. To provide the community with a non-agriculture-based income, the All India Handicrafts Board then urged the women to create their paintings on paper for commercial purposes and introduced the world to Madhubani or Mithila painting.

    The beloved Hindu god Krishna was born a prince but a prophecy foretold that his uncle Kamsa, the demon king of Mathura, would be challenged by a nephew. Kamsa then ordered the deaths of all of his sister’s sons, so Krishna was whisked away
    to grow up incognito in a cow-herding village. As a young man he entranced the milkmaids (gopis) of the village and they fell in love with him. Krishna, an avatar of the great god Vishnu, can be identified by his distinctive blue skin.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

    • Elizabeth Fortescue, The Daily Telegraph, 'Indian history through art', pg. 91, Sydney, 28 May 2004, 91 (illus.).