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Nabin and Elokeshi

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Kolkata (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1890 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in watercolour and tin alloy on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Painting, watercolour and tin alloy on paper, episode from the Tarakeshwar murder case, depicting the moment when the government clerk, Nabin, stands poised to behead his wife Elokeshi with a fish knife. Wearing a burgundy sari against yellow skin tones, Elokeshi kneels before her husband with her face turned away and hand raised to ward off the blow. The black 'holdall' used by the painters to illustrate one of Nabin's westernised accessories lies on the ground in front of Elokeshi whilst the umbrella, a further western attribute, hangs limply from his left hand.

Place of Origin

Kolkata (made)


ca. 1890 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Painted in watercolour and tin alloy on paper


Height: 450 mm approx., Width: 274 mm approx., Height: 273 mm cardboard mount onto which object attached, Width: 295 mm cardboard mount onto which object attached

Object history note

The Tarakeshwar murder case of 1873 was a public scandal in Calcutta based on an affair between Elokeshi the young attractive wife of Nabinchandra Banerji and the mahant or chief priest of the Shiva temple at Tarakeshwar. Upon discovery of the affair, on 27 May 1873 her jealous husband Nabinchandra Banerji cut Elokeshi's throat with a fish knife. In the trial that followed Nabin was sentenced to life imprisonment and the Mahant was fined and imprisoned for 3 years. Different variations of this affair favouring the various characters occur in several Bengali plays and Kalighat images between 1875-80.

Historical significance: Calcutta was recognised as the Capital of British India from 1833-1912. By the 1830s, artists had arrived from rural villages in Bengal and began to produce paintings that reflected 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.

Historical context note

For another version of the same paintings see IS 25-1952.

Descriptive line

Kalighat painting, Nabin about to deliver the fatal blow to Elokeshi, watercolour and tin alloy on paper, Kolkata, ca. 1890

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

Jain, J (1999) 'Kalighat Painting: Images from a Changing World', Ahmedabad, Mapin.
Sinha, Suhashini, and Panda, C, eds. Kalighat Paintings from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2012. ISBN 1851776656.
pl. no. 36, cat. no. 31, xxxiv: p. 91.
Kalighat paintings : a catalogue and introduction / by W.G. Archer. London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1971 Number: 0112900291 :


Watercolour; Tin alloy; Paint; Paper



Subjects depicted

Umbrella; Knife; Murder


Paintings; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project


South & South East Asia Collection

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