Indian art in close-up detail, £14.99
A Rajput king worshipping Krishna, a painting on paper
From Mewar, Rajasthan,
Around AD 1690-1700
Krishna plays the flute before a devoted king
In this painting the ruler of the Rajput state of Mewar is shown in worship before Krishna. The blue-skinned god plays his trademark flute while two women scatter flower petals over him and wave a flywhisk. The Rajput king appears barefoot before the god, with his hands in the gesture of devotion and adoration. Banana plants and a tree frame the scene. Two peacocks and a cow and her calf look up at Krishna.
Devotion to Krishna became a very important cult in Hindu north India from the fifteenth century. Krishna-worship is specially connected with the holy-land of Braj around the town of Mathura in north India, between Delhi and Agra. This area, where Krishna is believed to have spent the early part of his life, is a major pilgrimage centre. Hindu kings received political authority through their relationship with the gods of their kingdom, and Rajput kings are often shown as faithful devotees.
Mewar was the most powerful of the Rajput states and the last to be drawn into the Mughal political sphere in the early seventeenth century. It lies in the far south of Rajasthan, furthest from the Mughal capital, with its capital first at Chittor and later at Udaipur, famous for its lake-palace. The influence of Mughal culture may be seen in the ruler's dress, but the contrasting red, black and blue backgrounds are typical of Rajput art. The ruler depicted may be Jagat Singh I (ruled 1628-52) or Maharana Jai Singh (ruled 1680-98).
M.C. Beach, Mughal and Rajput painting (Cambridge University Press, 1992)
T. R. Blurton, Hindu art (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)