Indian and Himalayan Art
Rasalila (Krishna Dances with the Cowherdesses)
Late 18th century
Artist/maker unknown, India
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Currently not on view
2001-89-1Purchased with the Stella Kramrisch Fund, 2001
LabelThe rasalila (play of passion) is a highly evocative story about the nature of human and divine love. Krishna invites the gopis (cowherdesses) to dance around him as he plays his flute. As he plays, he multiplies himself to dance with each woman simultaneously and enable her to experience a singular, intimate relationship with her Lord. In this way, Krishna reveals his infinity and compatibility. Here blue-skinned Krishna is depicted multiple times in the circle and at the center with his favorite consort, Radha. Lively musicians and dancers play jubilantly as two celestial beings sprinkle flowers from above in admiration. Deer, birds, and fish rhythmically cavort across the bottom.