Mar 25, 2014

Vishnu Battles Madhu and Kaitabha, from a Markandeya Purana

Vishnu Battles Madhu and Kaitabha, from a Markandeya Purana

c. 1760

Gum tempera on paper

Image: 16.7 x 25.8 cm (6 9/16 x 10 3/16 in.); Overall: 20.2 x 29.2 cm (7 15/16 x 11 1/2 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1974.46



This scene from a Hindu text is set during the moments before the creation of the world. The four-armed god Vishnu has just awakened on his multiheaded serpent bed that floats on the cosmic ocean of milk. Two demons generated from his earwax, according to the text, have already begun a primordial battle between good and evil. In the foothills of the western Himalayas there were numerous small kingdoms governed by rulers who paid tribute to the Mughal emperor. The rulers of these Pahari kingdoms, including Guler, began to sponsor workshops of court painters during the 1600s, following the model of the imperial Mughal atelier. Each court developed its own painting style; at Guler, unpopulated pale expanses offset the opaque hues of clustered figures delineated by smooth contour lines.

See also
Indian Art
Type of artwork: 

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