This pat painting on thick cotton canvas shows a central field of the Jagannathi trio of Krishna (in his guise of ‘Lord of the world’ and with the darker face), his brother Balarama (Balabhadra) and their sister Subhadra. (The sister is the small figure between the two larger figures.)
The trio are worshipped most fervently in Puri, Orissa, and so such paintings were prepared in the vicinity of the Jagannathi Temple at Orissa, as mementos for visiting Hindi pilgrims.
The painting is arrayed as an approximation of the layout of the temple with the temple ponds (‘tanks’) being alluded to in both bottom corners with the representations of water and fish.
This style of painting has been done in Orissa for at least two hundred years and possibly much longer. The representations of the deities are halfway between the naive, non-anthropomorphic form of traditional tribal Indian art and more orthodox representations.
The canvas has been painted on both sides – the reverse is decorated with an orange-red and lacquered to stiffen the textile.
The painting is unframed. It is in fine condition for its age, with minor flaking and minor fraying to the edges.
The British Museum has a similar example.
Aryan, S., Unknown Masterpieces of Indian Folk and Tribal Art, KC Aryan’s Home of Folk Art, Museum of Folk, Tribal and Neglected Art, 2005.
Blurton, T.R., Hindu Art, The British Museum Press, 1992.
Bussabarger, R.F. & B. Dashew Robins, The Everyday Art of India, Dover, 1968.
Harle, J.C. & A. Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum, Ashmolean Museum, 1987.
Lanius, M.C., ‘Popular and traditional art of South and Southeast Asia in the Denver Art Museum’, Arts of Asia, January-February 2007.