Ceremonial Cover (Rumal) Depicting the Rasalila
The embroidery depicts the popular story of Krishna and the milkmaids engaged in a dance in which he assumes as many bodies as there are maidens (here four) in order to complete the circle of the dance. The entire composition is surrounded by a traditional floral border. The embroidery is identical on both sides.
Artist/maker unknown, India
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The Gita Govinda, a love poem written in the ancient Indic language Sanskrit, was often used as a source for the embroidered decoration on rumals from the Chamba Valley. The poem's description of a rasamandala, or circle dance, was especially appealing in that it allowed the embroiderer great scope in design. When compared with other rumals depicting rasamandalas, this cover stands out as being particularly unusual and imaginative in its presentation: the circular form of the dance is reflected in the shape of the cloth, while the four figures of the god Krishna and the four gopis (cowherdesses) are dressed in colorful and elaborately detailed costumes and jewelry.