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  • Place of origin:

    Tamil Nadu (made)

  • Date:

    16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr Lionel M. Wynch

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

This composition differs from the dancing butter thief in two ways. First, between Krishna's left foot and the lotus are the fanned-out multiple hoods of a serpent. Secondly, while the daring boy holds the reptile's tail by his outstretched left hand, the right forms the gesture of reassurance (abhaya mudra). Here also Krishna is a naked child, adorned only with ornaments as small children often are in village India.

The serpent is called Kaliya and he lived in the river Yamuna (Jumna). Once it was brought to Krishna's attention that the reptilian titan was polluting the waters of the river which made it hazardous for everyone else. So Krishna decided to teach the titan a lesson and after subduing him performed a victory dance on his hood to the amazement of all inhabitants of Braj. Clearly Krishna's right hand reassures both the inhabitants of Braj and the devotees who behold the figure. The name of the serpent Kaliya makes this a dance of victory over time and death as well.

Place of Origin

Tamil Nadu (made)


16th century (made)



Materials and Techniques



Height: 66 cm, Weight: 21 kg

Historical context note

Given to the V& A Museum by Mr. Lionel M.Wynch, C.I.E., C.B.E, Madras Civil Service, 1885-1914.

Descriptive line

Standing figure of Krishna dancing on the head of Kaliya, bronze, Tamil Nadu, 16th century.

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

Guy, John: 'Indian Temple Sculpture', London, V & A Publication, 2007, p.156, pl.1176.
ISBN 9781851775095.
Pratapaditya Pal, in Dancing to the Flute, Music and Dance in Indian Art. !997 p.82
Cat.40, p.34
Balraj Khanna and George Michell. Human and divine : 2000 years of Indian sculpture. London: Hayward Gallery, c.2000. ISBN: 1853322105

Production Note

Vijayanagar, South India



Subjects depicted





South & South East Asia Collection

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