Theology perceives Krishna as Vishnu’s incarnation but traditions of art have for them both different sets of iconography barring things like body colour. This statue blends both sets, though with greater focus on Vishnu-related aspects its primary emphasis seems to be on representing Krishna as a mere transform of Vishnu, or primarily as his incarnation.
This form of Krishna, iconographic vision, style of eyes, figure’s ornamentation and the overall ambience, lotus ‘pitha’ – seat, attendants, ‘prabhavali’ – fire-arch, among other things, reveal Orissa influence where Krishna is not seen as one of the incarnations of Vishnu but Vishnu himself, more popularly, Jagannatha – the Supreme Lord of the world. This apart, the artist seeks to continue with Krishna’s humanistic aspects. Umbrella of tree with birds perching over it and absence of halo – an essential feature of classical Vaishnava imagery and other attributes revealing majesty strengthen the image’s Krishna connection.
As suggests the absorption in eyes and on the face of the image, while blowing his pipe Krishna could not know when his legs moved to dance and the entire figure twisted to its notes. Entranced by what he has himself created, this form of Krishna, or Vishnu, reveals the aggregate of Vaishnava mysticism : He, Who Himself is the Creator of Maya, the manifest world, is as much the Maya’s slave. The divine ecstasy, which his flute creates, leaves the flute player transformed into a rhythmic trance. Now from his face and figure reveals the divine bliss, a blend of contentment, rapture, and grace.
Fine execution, not merely of the divine image or human figures in attendance but also the floral arabesque symbolic of both, the fire-arch as well as the tree under which he stands, sensitive treatment of the subject, perfect balance, anatomical and between various parts, a feeling of absorption and emotional bearing on the face impart to the artifact unique artistic merit and a distinction of its own. A non-resistant medium like wood which even a gentle stroke of chisel damages, in discovering forms – facial features or linear details, it reveals stone’s toughness, precision and accuracy, finest forms, minutest details, calligraphic contours, and fluidity of lines. The viewing eye discovers its magic in the rhythm with which the figure of the enrapt Krishna curves, the head with crown tilts to right, the shoulders, to left, the hips, to right, the left knee, to left, and finally, the upwards raised left foot, to right.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain
specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of
numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the
curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New
Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of
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