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Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Kolkata (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1830 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and tin on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

"Jagannatha is worshipped particualry at Puri in Orissa. According to Legend, Krishna was killed by a hunter. His bones were found and vishnu directed a king, Indrayumna, to make an image of Jagannatha and place the bones inside it. The carpenter of the gods, Viswakarma, agreed to make the image is he was left undisturbed. On being interrupted by Indrayumna, Viswakarma lost his temper and refused to finish the image. This is said to explain the crude form taken by the Jagannatha image at Puri, where the body resembles a wooden stump with a large blunt head. In appearance, the three often conform to the simplified images in teh temple, but at times are shown more realistically with developed bodies, hands and feet". (Archer, 1971, p100)

Calcutta was the capital of British India from 1833-1912. By the 1830s, artists had arrived in Calcutta from rural villages in Bengal and began to produce paintings that reflected the local history, mythology, customs and conflicts of a colonised society. As a popular art form, these artists are recognised for their use of brilliant colour, simplified images and swift brushstrokes that became the hallmark of Kalighat painting in the 19th and early 20th century.

Physical description

Painting, opaque watercolour and tin on paper, the holy trio of Jagannatha, Lord of the World and a form of Krishna, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra. Jagannatha and Balbhadra stand to right and left with Subhadra small in the middle. These incarnations are seen in Orissa as forms of Krishna and Balarama. Personal adornments of necklaces, hair and ear ornaments are painted in tin alloy.

Place of Origin

Kolkata (made)


ca. 1830 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and tin on paper


Height: 287 mm maximum, Width: 440 mm maximum

Descriptive line

Painting, Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra, opaque watercolour and tin alloy on paper, Kalighat, Kolkata, ca. 1830

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Archer, W.G., Kalighat Paintings, London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1971, P44, 45

Production Note

The dating follows W.G Archer's 1971 catalogue of the V&A's collection of Kalighat paintings. Calcutta is referred to in the 21st century as Kolkata.


Paint; Opaque watercolour; Paper; Tin



Subjects depicted



Hinduism; Drawings; Paintings; Myths & Legends; Religion; Folk Art; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project


South & South East Asia Collection

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