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Krishna and the Gopis Exchange Roles
Page from a dispersed series of the Bhagavata Purana

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Gujarat, India, Asia
Probably made in Surat, Gujarat, India, Asia

c. 1720

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Image: 9 5/8 × 7 3/8 inches (24.4 × 18.7 cm) Sheet: 10 1/2 × 8 3/4 inches (26.7 × 22.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

* Gallery 331, Asian Art, third floor (Dutt Gallery)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lessing J. Rosenwald, 1959

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In the two scenes at the top of this page, Krishna dances for a seated gopi and a gopi dances for Krishna. In similarly mirror images at the bottom, Krishna honors a gopi who plays a vina (stringed instrument) and a gopi honors flute-playing Krishna. Although this scene is not described explicitly in the Bhagavata Purana, it is implied in Krishna's statement that real love must be reciprocal-and as devotees cherish a deity, so Krishna is devoted to his followers. Such playful interchanges of identity between Krishna and his lover became a favorite theme of later devotional poetry and imagery, where the gopi is usually specified as Radha.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.