masthead logo
email webmanager facebook | twitter | instagram | google+ | flickr | contacts | 

Kota school Rajasthan, India
Krishna's fluting summons the entranced gopis for Autumn Moon festival [Sharad purnima]
shrine hanging [pichhavai]
c. 1840 opaque watercolour, gold and silver on cotton painting
291.8 h x 311.0 w cm
Purchased 2005
Accession No: NGA 2005.226


  • Krishna, a popular Hindu deity and an incarnation of the god Vishnu, is adored for his mischievous personality, infinite love and miraculous actions. Vishnu assumed the form of divine, blue-skinned Krishna to oppose a malevolent king and restore joy and harmony to the world. The legends from Krishna’s early life centre on his upbringing as a cowherder, and his playful interactions with the gopis (milkmaids), who found him irresistibly attractive.

    Celebrating one such story, this vibrant temple hanging shows Krishna, dressed in characteristic flamboyant dress, playing his flute to crowds of infatuated women. The scene is in a forest beside the Jamuna River during the autumn full moon; Krishna’s music has enticed the women from their beds to dance
    with him.

    This painting is a depiction of the concept of rasa lila, or divine play. Joyful, fun and flirtatious, rasa lila images are metaphors for the relationship between gods and humans, and demonstrate ideal devotion. The gopis love, revere and follow Krishna, even leaving their families to join him. This hanging was originally intended as a shrine backdrop in a haveli (palace), the ritual space of the Vallabha sect of Hinduism, during ceremonies to worship Krishna.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

  • Krishna is adored for his playful personality, infinite love and miraculous deeds. Legends of his early life centre on his interactions with the milkmaids, gopis. This shrine hanging shows Krishna posed between crowds of infatuated women in the lush moonlit forest beside the Yamuna River; his flute-playing has enticed the gopis to dance with him. The skill and style of the painting suggests that it was created by a leading painter from the Kota area of Rajasthan, a famous Rajput painting centre.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
    From: Asian gallery extended display label