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Between and Mortarboard

UMMA Object Specific Fields

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Accession Number



Artist Nationality
Indian (South Asian)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
ink, opaque watercolor and gold on cloth

78 1/4 in x 58 1/2 in (198.76 cm x 148.59 cm)

Credit Line
Gift from the collection of Robert B. Jacobs

Label copy

India, Rajasthan

19th century
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on cloth
Gift from the collection of Robert B. Jacobs, 2008/2.289

A picchvai is a piece of cloth adorning the wall behind the main image or icon in a shrine. Picchvai can be large or small, brocaded or embroidered, or, as seen here, colorfully painted. In this work, a garlanded and bejeweled Srinathji—a manifestation of the child Krishna, the Hindu divinity of compassion and love—is depicted in dark blue in the center of the image. Cow-herding girls, or gopis, surround this central image. Krishna and his friends are shown negotiating with the gopis while traveling on Mount Govardhan. In exchange for protection, they demand a toll of curds and milk from the gopis who wish to pass. This picchvai would have been part of a shrine devoted to Krishna.

Subject matter
Shri Nathi, an incarnation of Krishna particularly worshipped by cow-herding communities, is at center. Vallahachari brahmins and devotees perform puja. In other areas Krishna teases the gopis and herds cows.
(Christies, Indian and Southeast Asian Art, Friday 21 September 200--see object file)
Picchvai, painted devotional hangings, are often commissioned for a public temple or private or portable shrines. They represent scenes from the life of the Hindu deity Krishna (always depicted as blue) and are commonly used as a backdrop for the display of statues of this god. Here, the scene depicted shows Krishna and his friends negotiating with gopis (cow-herding girls) while traveling on Mount Govardhan; in exchange for protection, they demand a toll of curds and milk from the gopis who wish to pass. Some scholars who have studied Picchvai have drawn parallels between the repetitive patterning of the groups of figures in this visual composition and the metric system of the short poems of the period.

Physical Description
The piece portrays a central god, with many milkmaids surrounding him. There are louts flowers present, as well as hills and buildings at the top of the painting. There are also various incarnations of gods, which are the blue-skinned figures.

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cows (mammals)
lotus (motif)

1 Related Resource

Hindu Gods and Goddesses
(Part of 6 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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