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Krishna Carried Across the River

Asian Art

In the story of the god Krishna’s life on earth, he is born to a royal family but must be taken from the palace immediately in order to hide him from an evil uncle. This unusual painting shows the circumstances of this departure. In the dark of night, while everyone in the palace is asleep (a small gazebo at right stands in for the palace), Krishna’s father carries him across the river Yamuna to the rural community where Krishna will be raised. The father is barely visible here at the center, holding the baby above his head while the giant serpent Vasuki stands above them, offering protection. A lion on the opposite bank of the river might represent the dangers facing them at night, as does the monkey at the upper right and the bolt of lightning. In the upper left is a temple with Krishna enthroned at the center; his four arms indicate that this is his transcendent form, the form that continued to exist in heaven even as he was incarnated as a mortal down on earth. The painting presents the various elements of the story in different areas of the page without attempting to synthesize them into a single scene or setting. This approach is frequently found in Indian painting, which often strives to tell the whole story rather than attempting to capture a single moment.
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
DATES first half 19th century
DIMENSIONS sheet: 10 5/8 x 7 5/16 in. (27.0 x 18.6 cm) image: 7 1/8 x 5 1/2 in. (18.1 x 14.0 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Brooklyn Museum Collection
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Indian. Krishna Carried Across the River, first half 19th century. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, sheet: 10 5/8 x 7 5/16 in. (27.0 x 18.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Collection, X689.4 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, X689.4_IMLS_PS4.jpg)
IMAGE overall, X689.4_IMLS_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2010
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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