Abhimanyu Hunting in a Forest, from a Mahabharata

Historical period(s)
ca. 1885
Folk/Popular School
Opaque watercolor on paper
H x W (overall): 30.7 x 42.7 cm (12 1/16 x 16 13/16 in)
India, Maharashtra
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Album folio with painting

boar, bow, horse, hunting, India, Lakshmana, Mahabharata, Rama, shield, Surpanakha, tiger, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Michael and Henrietta Spink


The nineteenth-century chitrakathis or picture storytellers of Maharashtra in western India held paintings such as these aloft while they sang the great Indian epics to popular audiences. The style, known as Paithan, is characterized by freely drawn calligraphic contours and tapestry-like patterns of skillfully integrated figures and landscape elements. Although their style is traditional, the pictures are painted on the inexpensive European paper extensively used in nineteenth-century Maharashtra.
This lively painting from a regional retelling of the epic Mahabharata (Great tale of the Bharatas), illustrates the young hero Abhimanyu hunting tiger, boar, porcupine, and hare as his mother Subhadra watches. Freely splashed washes of red paint indicate the slain animals' blood.

Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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