This is a painted shrine hanging from the Nathdvara region, Rajasthan, India (c1830) depicting important scenes from the life of Krishna as a map. The painting is shown as five enlargeable images and in a video. Text onscreen gives information about its religious intention, as a way to attain religious merit in the Vallabha Hindu sect. The video, narrated by Melanie Eastburn, curator of Asian Art at the National Gallery of Australia explores the story of Krishna’s life and his various depictions in this map. The painting measures 279.5 cm high x 255.5 cm wide and was painted with opaque watercolour, gold and silver on cotton.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
In the form of a map, this shrine hanging presents important moments in Krishna’s life. He appears as an infant, a playful child, a flirtatious young man and a protective hero. The places shown are major pilgrimage destinations for the Vallabha Hindu sect. Such paintings are displayed during the annual Vraja pilgrimage festival. Devotees unable to travel can attain religious merit by viewing the images and taking a mental rather than physical journey.
Krishna was born to oppose his uncle, the demon-king Kamsa. He survived infancy by living incognito in a cow-herding village. In the cluster of buildings near the painting’s centre, divine newborn Krishna appears before his parents. Below, Krishna’s father carries his son across the river, protected by a serpent and tiger.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label