Vrishaketu and Bhima Fighting Yavanatha, Scene from the Story of Babhruvahana, Folio from a Mahabharata ([War of the] Great Bharatas)

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Vrishaketu and Bhima Fighting Yavanatha, Scene from the Story of Babhruvahana, Folio from a Mahabharata ([War of the] Great Bharatas)

India, Maharashtra, Paithan, circa 1850
Drawings; watercolors
Opaque watercolor on paper
11 x 16 1/4 in. (27.94 x 41.28 cm)
Gift of Walter and Nesta Spink in honor of Dr. Stephen Markel (AC1998.263.1)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

This painting’s bold forms and dynamic composition epitomize the narrative representations used as storyboards by itinerant storytellers (chitrakathis) in the Deccan....
This painting’s bold forms and dynamic composition epitomize the narrative representations used as storyboards by itinerant storytellers (chitrakathis) in the Deccan. Traditionally attributed to Paithan in Maharashtra because of their discovery there in the 1960s, their geographical range of production included Maharashtra, northern Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and parts of Telegana. The bards typically narrated the great Indian epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana, in public performances that were animated with paintings, puppets, and pantomime illustrating the heroic tales. The Mahabharata recounts the struggle between two powerful branches of a ruling family, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, for the control of the kingdom of Kurukshetra near New Delhi. When the eldest Pandava brother, Yudhishtira, conducted an Ashvamedha (horse sacrifice) ceremony, in which a horse accompanied by a king's soldiers would be released to wander for a year and the king would then acquire those lands if the horse had not been captured or killed, Arjuna was tasked to guard the horse. When Arjuna and the wandering horse arrived at the kingdom of Manipur, Babhruvahana (or Babruvahana), the king of Manipur, captured the horse and killed Arjuna and his fellow warrior Vrishaketu with magical arrows. Babhruvahana later relented and revived Arjuna and Vrishaketu with the help of a magical jewel and Krishna. Here, Vrishaketu and Bhima, another Pandava brother, battle Yavanatha, an ally of Babhruvahana.
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