Krishna Advising on the Horse Sacrifice (front); Preparing the Army to Follow the Sacrificial Horse (back)
Probably from a picture-story series of the Shri Jaimini Ashvamedha episode of the Mahabharata
Artist/maker unknown, Indian
Many of the narratives illustrated in picture-story paintings were local versions adapted from classical Hindu sources. This double-sided page shows scenes from a popular story based on an episode in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandava brothers, wanted to perform the Ashvamedha (horse-sacrifice), in which a special horse would be allowed to wander freely for a year. Anyone who challenged the horse's freedom would face the accompanying Pandava army, led by the youngest Pandava brother, Prince Arjuna. These paintings show preparations for the sacrifice. On the front, three heroes present an elaborately ornamented horse to the Pandavas' court, where they seek advice from the four-armed deity Krishna. On the back, the cavalry prepares to follow the sacrificial horse in its wanderings.