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Krishna and Nikumba

Painting
ca. 1590 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The Mughal emperor Akbar had the main Sanskrit texts of Hinduism translated into Persian, the language of the court and of the elite of the empire. This page is from a dispersed illustrated translation of the Harivamsa, the life of Krishna appended to the Mahabharata, and was done in about 1590. The painting was later added to an album and given decorated borders, probably in Lucknow in the 18th century.
Here, Krishna kills the demon king Nikumbha in the cave where heroes had been held captive.
read The arts of the Mughal Empire The great age of Mughal art lasted from about 1580 to 1650 and spanned the reigns of three emperors: Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Hindu and Muslim artists and craftsmen from the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent worked with Iranian masters in the masculine environment of the r...
object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Brief Description
Painting, Harivamsa, Krishna kills Nikumba, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590
Physical Description
Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, the blue-skinned Krishna dressed in a dhoti, wearing a crown, and royal scarves and jewellery, is at the centre of the composition, isolated against the black background of the cave where the demon was found. and has just been decapitated. Nikumbha is depicted according to the conventions of Iranian book painting, as a div, with spotted skin and flaming eyes. Rocky outcrops are at the top of the composition; Krishna's companions surround the central figures.
Dimensions
  • Height: 30.7cm
  • Width: 18.7cm
Content description
The blue-skinned Krishna dressed in a dhoti, wearing a crown, and royal scarves and jewellery, is at the centre of the composition, isolated against the black background of the cave where the demon was found. and has just been decapitated. Nikumbha is depicted according to the conventions of Iranian book painting, as a div, with spotted skin and flaming eyes. Rocky outcrops are at the top of the composition; Krishna's companions surround the central figures.
Style
Gallery Label
KRISHNA KILLS THE DEMON NIKUMBHA Illustration to the Harivamsha Opaque watercolour and gold on paper Mughal c. 1590 IS.6-1970 Bequeathed by the Hon. Dame Ada Mcnaghten The Harivamsha, or ‘Genealogy of Hari’, describes the creation of the cosmos and the legendary history of kings leading up to the birth of Lord Krishna. It was translated from Sanskrit into Persian on Akbar’s orders, as was the Mahabharata, with which it is closely connected. The translation was finished before 1586. In this painting, Krishna kills Nikumbha in the cave where this demon king had held heroes captive.(27/9/2013)
Credit line
Bequeathed by the Hon. Dame Ada Macnaghten
Subjects depicted
Summary
The Mughal emperor Akbar had the main Sanskrit texts of Hinduism translated into Persian, the language of the court and of the elite of the empire. This page is from a dispersed illustrated translation of the Harivamsa, the life of Krishna appended to the Mahabharata, and was done in about 1590. The painting was later added to an album and given decorated borders, probably in Lucknow in the 18th century.

Here, Krishna kills the demon king Nikumbha in the cave where heroes had been held captive.
Bibliographic References
  • Robert Skelton, "Mughal Paintings from Harivamsa Manuscript", V&A Museum Yearbook no. 2, 1970, pp. 41-54, fig. 7.
  • STRONGE, Susan. Painting for the Mughal Emperor: The Art of the Book 1560 – 1660 London : V&A Publications, 2002. 192p, ill. ISBN 1 85177 358 4.p. 95-96, pl. 62
  • Khanna, Balraj; Krishna: The Divine Lover, South Bank Centre, London 1997, ISBN 1 85332 166 4cat. no. 2
Collection
Accession Number
IS.6-1970

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record createdJune 25, 2009
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