Never does Radha look more charming than when She is in Her lover’s arms. Her legs are wound around His hips, which are jutting out laterally in order to support Her weight. With one hand He holds the all-important flute, with the other He holds Her by the waist. In keeping with His traditional iconography, His form is in the tribhanga stance, which means that it is jutting out (‘bhanga’) at three (‘tri’) different junctures namely the shoulders, the hips, and the ankles. With their faces held close against each other’s, the lovers gaze deeply into each other’s eyes.
The leela of the handsome and widely adored cowherd of Vrindavan is a popular subject of choice with the painters of Orissa. The painting that you see on this page is a superfine pattachitra, the name given to the regional folk art form. It is a portmanteau of the words ‘chitra’, which means picture, and ‘patta’, which refers to the homemade fabric-based canvas the chitras are executed on. The hallmark of this pattachitra’s grade is the sheer proportion of detail introduced into the composition. The embroidery on the dresses the figures are wearing, including the milkmaids (gopiyaan). The blue currents swirling in the stream in the foreground. The creases in the ivory-coloured petals of the lotus on which stand Radha-Krishna.
An inky shade of blue dominates the colour palette of this painting. The pristine bodies of the swans swimming in the stream and the single halo that frames the heads of the lovers bring out the surrounding colours and details to perfection.
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