Krishna Slays King Shishupala (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

ca. 1780
Indian
Paintings
Works On Paper
opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Punjab Hills, Guler, India
Sheet: 10 5/16 × 13 1/4 in. (26.19 × 33.66 cm)
Mat: 16 × 20 in. (40.64 × 50.8 cm)
81.216
Not on view

For many years Krishna tolerated the malicious behavior of his jealous cousin and foe, King Shishupala. However, at a great royal sacrifice, Shishupala finally exhausted his cousin’s forbearance. After the attendees were asked to venerate the ceremony’s honored guest Krishna, Shishupala refused, deriding his cousin instead. Enraged by Shishupala’s arrogance, Krishna beheaded him on the spot with his flaming discus. This refined Guler painting depicts this culminating moment. Seated on a throne in the foreground of a palace courtyard, Krishna has just released the discus and decapitated the armed, onrushing Shishupala. Diademed rulers crowd the courtyard, Hindu priests tend the sacrificial fire, and court ladies look on from behind a blind in the background. So lightning-quick is

Krishna’s act that not one of them has had time to react.

Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund
Dye, Joseph M. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. London: Philipp Wilson, 2001. (cat. no. 147, pp. 343-344)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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