figure with short black hair and blue skin at center, wearing red striped loincloth, anklets, bracelets and armlets, and necklaces, holding open the bead of a white crane with its tongue sticking out and blood dripping from its beak; another standing figure wearing maroon striped loincloth and holding a red staff at left center; fanciful trees in LLC and at top; three figures with two oxen and a calf at top; red border; white Ararbic inscription at top center

Krishna Kills the Crane Demon, c. 1720

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Flamboyant yet clear, the artist identified as “the Master at the Court at Mankot” (possibly Meju) is prized for painting deeply felt, astoundingly inventive pictures. Here, the artist depicts canto 11 of the Tenth Book of the sacred text, which chronicles the childhood exploits of Krishna, the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who comes to earth to vanquish it from evil. In this scene, the blue-skinned Krishna and the cowherds (gopas) take their cattle to a pond in the idyllic landscape of Vjraj, only to be disturbed by yet another demon sent by the wicked King Kamsa of Mathura. The giant crane demon Bakasura swallows Krishna, but the great god emits so much heat that the crane is forced to disgorge him; after which, Krishna swiftly “seize[s] the demonbird by two halves of his long bill and tear[s] him apart.” The artist triumphantly depicts the spray of blood, as well as the crane’s now lifeless tongue.

The vividly gruesome scene is counterbalanced by a leafy register above, featuring Balarama (Krishna’s brother, indicated by white skin) recounting the occurrence to his fellow cowherds whilst holding a lotus flower. On their garments one also observes the Mankot Master’s flair for pattern, put to mesmerizing effect in the otherworldly ‘lollipop’ trees.

Details
Title
Krishna Kills the Crane Demon
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2020.5
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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figure with short black hair and blue skin at center, wearing red striped loincloth, anklets, bracelets and armlets, and necklaces, holding open the bead of a white crane with its tongue sticking out and blood dripping from its beak; another standing figure wearing maroon striped loincloth and holding a red staff at left center; fanciful trees in LLC and at top; three figures with two oxen and a calf at top; red border; white Ararbic inscription at top center