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Warriors going into battle from a Mahabharata series

Accession Number
1975/2.150

Title
Warriors going into battle from a Mahabharata series

Artist(s)
Artist Unknown, India, Maharashtra, Paithan School

Object Creation Date
early 19th century - mid 19th century

Medium & Support
ink and opaque watercolor on paper

Dimensions
10 3/4 in x 16 1/4 in (27.31 cm x 41.28 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Leo S. Figiel and Dr. and Mrs. Steven J. Figiel.

Label copy
This striking image of warriors striding along a path with shields and weapons held at the ready is a fine example of narrative paintings produced by and for the Paithan tribal group in the northern Deccan. It belongs to one of the most striking genres of traditional Indian art: large-scale narrative paintings used by professional, itinerant storytellers. Often the stories are local variants of the Mahâbhârata, the most ancient of the great Indian epics, updated with humorous comments on current events or village life. The bold shapes and the attractive, if simplified, color scheme would have made the painting legible—and memorable—to even the most distant members of the audience.
This scene likely depicts a moment in book six when the armies of the Pandavas and Kauravas meet prior to charging into a battle for the throne. The war, known as the Kurukshetra War, lasted eighteen days and at its end the Kaurava army had fallen and the Pandavas were free to reclaim their throne. Their victory, however, was incomplete as a member of the Kaurava army had snuck into their camp and killed the warriors and children he found there, leaving the Pandavas without an heir to the throne they had fought so hard to win.
Spring/Summer Gallery Rotation 2015
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This striking image of warriors striding along a path with shields and weapons held at ready is a fine example of narrative paintings produced by and for the Paithan tribal group in the northern Deccan. One of the most striking genres of traditional Indian art is that of large-scale narrative painting used by professional, itinerant storytellers. Often the stories are local variants of the ancient epic, the Mahabharata, updated with humorous comments on current events or village life.
Originally another scene was pasted to the back of this work. The storyteller or his assistant would hold one scene high overhead to show his audience, and then flip it over to progress to the next development in the tale. The bold shapes and attractive, if simplified, color scheme would make the painting legible—and memorable—to even the most distant members of his audience.
Exhibited in "Divine Encounters, Earthly Pleasures: Twenty Centuries of Indian Art," 12/12/03-2/22/04.
This painting, along with two others in UMMA's collection (1970/.2.166 & 1975/2.151) is an example of a double-sided folio from an illustrated series of scenes from the Mahâbhârata, one of the great epc tales of South Asia. Two pages of a similar manuscript are published in Simon Ray, 'Indian & Islamic Works of Art, April 2007, catalog no. 60. See also Anna L. Dallapiccola, 'Die Paithan Maleri,' (Wiesbaden, 1980).
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One of the most striking genres of traditional Indian art is that of large-scale narrative painting used by professional itinerant storytellers. Often the stories are local variants of the ancient epic, the Mahabharata, updated with humorous comments on current events or village life. This painting, along with two others in the Museum’s collections, is an example of a double-sided folio from an illustrated series of scenes from the Mahabharata. The storyteller or his assistant would hold one scene high overhead to show his audience, and then flip it over to progress to the next development in the tale. The bold shapes and attractive, if simplified, color scheme would make the painting legible—and memorable—to even those audience members furthest from the storyteller.
(6/28/10)
(South and Southeast Asia Gallery Rotation, Spring 2010)

Subject matter
This scene likely depicts a moment in book six when the armies of the Pandavas and Kauravas meet prior to charging into a battle for the throne. The war, known as the Kurukshetra War, lasted eighteen days and at its end the Kaurava army had fallen and the Pandavas were free to reclaim their throne. Their victory, however, was incomplete as a member of the Kaurava army had snuck into their camp and killed the warriors and children he found there, leaving the Pandavas without an heir to the throne they had fought so hard to win.

Physical Description
Three warriors march forward, taking up nearly the entire frame. Blue soldiers carring weapons and shields bring up the front and rear. They appear to move through a stylized tree landscape.

Primary Object Classification
Painting

Primary Object Type
narrative painting

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
battles
trees
weapons

6 Related Resources

Apocalypses
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Death and Dying
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)
Introduction to Manuscripts and Early Print
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Texts of islam
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Combat, Battle, Warfare
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display