Radha thumbnail 1
Radha thumbnail 2
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Radha

Painting
1788 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The festival of Holi is celebrated across India in February and March. It marks the arrival of spring and revellers show great exuberance, throwing coloured powders and coloured water at each other. This painting shows two groups of women showering each other with red and orange powder and spraying a saffron-coloured liquid. Radha, the human consort of the god Krishna in Hindu mythology, is the most prominent figure in the group on the left-hand side.

Although today the colours used for Holi range from reds and yellows to blues and greens, the traditional colour was made from the leaves of the ‘tesu’ tree (Butea monosperma). This tree is known as the ‘flame of the forest’ and produces bright red flowers, which are dried and ground to give a saffron colour when mixed with water. The yellow powder was most probably turmeric, which comes from the root of a leafy plant in the ginger family called Curcuma longa. Ground turmeric comes from the fingers of the root, which are boiled or steamed and then dried and ground. The red dye may be red sandalwood powder (Pterocarpus santalinus).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Painted in opaque watercolour on paper
Brief Description
Painting, Radha celebrating the Holi festival, opaque watercolour on paper, Pahari, Kangra, 1788
Physical Description
Painting, opaque watercolour on paper, Radha celebrating the Holi festival. Two opposed groups of women, one including Radha, are throwing red powder and spraying one another with paint.
Dimensions
  • Height: 15.5cm
  • Width: 25.8cm
Content description
Radha celebrating the Holi festival. Two opposed groups of women, one including Radha, are throwing red powder and spraying one another with paint.
Style
Credit line
P. C. Manuk and Miss G. M. Coles Bequest through Art Fund
Production
Punjab Hills
Subjects depicted
Summary
The festival of Holi is celebrated across India in February and March. It marks the arrival of spring and revellers show great exuberance, throwing coloured powders and coloured water at each other. This painting shows two groups of women showering each other with red and orange powder and spraying a saffron-coloured liquid. Radha, the human consort of the god Krishna in Hindu mythology, is the most prominent figure in the group on the left-hand side.



Although today the colours used for Holi range from reds and yellows to blues and greens, the traditional colour was made from the leaves of the ‘tesu’ tree (Butea monosperma). This tree is known as the ‘flame of the forest’ and produces bright red flowers, which are dried and ground to give a saffron colour when mixed with water. The yellow powder was most probably turmeric, which comes from the root of a leafy plant in the ginger family called Curcuma longa. Ground turmeric comes from the fingers of the root, which are boiled or steamed and then dried and ground. The red dye may be red sandalwood powder (Pterocarpus santalinus).
Bibliographic References
  • Guy, J., and Swallow, D., (eds). ‘Arts of India: 1550-1900’. London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1990. ISBN 1851770224. , p.150, pl.130.
  • Jackson, Anna and Ji Wei (eds.) with Rosemary Crill, Ainsley M. Cameron and Nicholas Barnard, compiled by the Palace Museum, translated by Yuan Hong, Qi Yue and Liu Ran. The Splendour of India' Royal Courts : Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Beijing: the Forbidden City Publishing House, 2013. Text in English and Chinese. ISBN 9787513403917.pps.94-97
  • Topsfield, Andrew, An introduction to Indian Court Painting, H.M.S.O., London, 1984, 0112903835p. 44, cat. no. 38
  • Indian paintings from the Punjab Hills : a survey and history of Pahari miniature painting / by W. G. Archer ; foreword by Sherman E. Lee. London :Delhi: Sotheby Parke Bernet ;Oxford University Press, 1973 Number: 0856670022p. 298, cat. no. 46
  • Swallow, D., Stronge, S., Crill, R., Koezuka, T., editor and translator, "The Art of the Indian Courts. Miniature Painting and Decorative Arts", Victoria & Albert Museum and NHK Kinki Media Plan, 1993.p. 132, cat. no. 115
Collection
Accession Number
IS.9-1949

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record createdOctober 29, 2002
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