- Museum number
Story-telling painting, in gouache, of the 'Paithan' type, illustrating a narrative from the Mahabharata. The king and his family arrive in Kashi.
The exiles arrive in Kashi and bathe in the Ganges up to the waist. Each one carries a lota in the hand, performing their ritual ablutions. A fourth person, an emissary of Vishvamitra with the typical hawkish face, bathes near them, reminding the king of his unpaid debt. In the background is a row of trees. The foreground, which occupies almost half of the page, shows the water of the river teeming with aquatic creatures, fish, tortoises and a crocodile.
- Production date
Height: 33 centimetres (painting only)
Width: 44.50 centimetres (painting only)
- Curator's comments
- This is a complete storytellers’ set of sixty paintings (2007,3014.1 to 60). It depicts the story of king Harishchandra, one of the most popular stories throughout India and narrated in the Mahabharata, in the Markandeya Purana and in the Srimad Devi Bhagavatam. The source of the present narrative is uncertain as it is often retold with a number of variations and additions in numerous local languages. King Harischandra, the hero of this tale, exemplifies moral rectitude.
In the usual Paithan manner, this once had another painting attached to the reverse (see 2007,3014.35), which was removed and separately mounted. Paithan paintings were used as part of a story-telling performance, and while entertaining, were also considered to be a form of worship.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2012 Sep – 2013 Apr, BM G91, ‘Ritual and revelry: the art of drinking in Asia'
Faith, Narrative & Desire: Masterpieces of Indian painting from the British Museum collection. 2008.
- The paintings are executed in opaque watercolour on foolscap size industrial paper. However, about 2.5 cm of the original format has been lost, as most of the leaves, probably badly frayed at the edges by their handling, have been cropped. Furthermore, some of the leaves have been repaired by the storytellers with newspaper bits, and with red masking tape. Fortunately almost nothing of the paintings, except the occasional top of a crown or decorative border, has been obliterated by these restorations.
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Mahabharata
- Acquisition date
- Registration number