Karna Slays a Demon

Historical period(s)
1670
Movement
Mysore Court
School
South Indian School
Medium
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 11.8 x 16.6 cm (4 5/8 x 6 9/16 in)
Geography
South India, Karnataka state, Probably Seringapatam
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1975.4
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Manuscript, Painting
Type

Manuscript folio

Keywords
battle, demon, elephant, India, Karna, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

This charged scene is from the Mahabharata (Great Story of the Bharatas), a sacred Hindu epic of ancient India that narrates the great war between two related clans, the Pandavas and the Kauravas. In this scene Karna, mightiest warrior of the Kauravas, slays Ghatotkacha, the giant demon of the Pandavas. On the right, the blue-skinned god Krishna drives the chariot for the Pandava hero Arjuna. Although the artist of this Mahabharata adopted the sharp noses and large, oval eyes of the Vijayanagara court tradition, his style is unique. The figures, which exhibit rounded contours and emphatic modeling, are charged with energy.

Before paper was introduced into India, manuscripts were written on palm leaves. The horizontal format of this page preserves the shape of a trimmed palm leaf. The text is in Sanskrit, the "refined" ancient literary language of India.

Published References
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 83, p. 109.
  • Unknown title. vol. 30 New York and Honolulu, 1976-1977. p. 124, fig. 57.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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