Indian and Himalayan Art
Rao Ram Singh I of Kota Plays Nanda
Artist/maker unknown, India
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, mounted on a late 18th-century Jaipur album page
Currently not on view
2004-149-63125th Anniversary Acquisition. Alvin O. Bellak Collection, 2004
LabelIndian painters found many clever ways to please their patrons and add layers of meaning to their works. Here several toddlers play in front of a seated man who holds a blue-skinned child on his lap. The child is the young Krishna and the man is Nanda, Krishna's adoptive father and chief of the cowherd community in which Krishna was raised. However, the artist has given Nanda the facial features of his own patron, Rao Ram Singh I of Kota (1696-1707). By "becoming" Nanda, the Kota ruler also becomes the protector of the infant Krishna. In reality, Krishna was often considered the true ruler of Kota, and the kings styled themselves as his deputies.