Krishna and the Golden City of Dwarkafrom the Harivamsha (Geneology of Vishnu)

Artist: Miskin (active late 1570s–ca. 1604)
Designer: Kesu Kalan (active ca. 1570–1604)
Historical period(s)
Mughal dynasty, Reign of Akbar, ca. 1585
Mughal Court
Mughal School
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
H x W (overall): 34.9 x 23.2 cm (13 3/4 x 9 1/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Manuscript folio

city, Harivamsha, Hinduism, India, Krishna, Mughal dynasty (1526 - 1858), nasta'liq script, Reign of Akbar (1556 - 1605), worship
Provenance research underway.

The painting represents the mythical city of Dwarka, where the blue-skinned Krishna, an incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu, is enthroned on a golden palace and surrounded by his kinsmen. A pastoral scene in the foreground evokes a familiar village setting and a sense that the gods are present in everyday life.

This manuscript was painted for the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605) who was quite interested in other religions. Akbar had translations made of major Hindu texts, including the Sanskrit epic the Mahabharata (Great Story of the Bharatas), known in its Persian translation as Razmnama (Book of Wars). This page is from a section appended to the Razmnama known as the Harivamsa (Genealogy of Vishnu), which narrates of the life of Krishna.

Published References
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Paintings of the Sultans and Emperors of India in American Collections. Lalit Kala Series of Indian Art New Delhi. pl. 5.
  • Krishna Chaitanya. A History of Indian Painting. 5 vols., New Delhi, 1976-1994. Vol. 2, pl. 29.
  • Capolavori nei secoli: Enciclopedia di tutte i popoli in tutti i tempi. 12 vols., Milan, 1961 - 1964. vol. 3: p. 216.
  • Francesco Abbate. Arte dell'Inde e dell'Indonesia. Milan. pl. 74.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court. Exh. cat. Washington, 1981. cat. 6, pp. 21, 47, 70-1.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd ed. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 7, pp. 60-1.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Worlds within Worlds: Imperial Paintings from India and Iran
Google Cultural Institute
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