Apr 15, 2014
Aug 3, 2012
Apr 15, 2014

The First Adventure of the White Horse, Page from the Khan Khanan's Razm Nama (Book of Wars)

The First Adventure of the White Horse, Page from the Khan Khanan's Razm Nama (Book of Wars)

c. 1610–17

Ink and color on paper

Overall: 38 x 22.4 cm (14 15/16 x 8 13/16 in.)

James Parmelee Fund 1964.52



After the five Pandava brothers defeated their cousins, the oldest, who became king, performed an ancient Vedic ritual known as the horse sacrifice in order to determine the physical extent of his rule. For one year a horse wanders freely around the country, attended by warriors, and every land through which the horse passes becomes part of the king’s territory. The warriors go to battle with any local resistance. In this case, the warrior following the horse is Arjuna, one of the five Pandava brothers. He has encountered the son-in-law of the god of fire, Agni, who creates a river of fire to block the warriors. In a dramatic composition set on the banks of the swirling golden river of fire, running diagonally down the page between multicolored rocky outcrops, Arjuna, dark-skinned and crowned, pleads with Agni, the god of fire. He prays that the horse be allowed to pass, saying that the horse sacrifice is in accordance with sacred Vedic injunctions, and that at the end of the year, the horse will be sacrificed to him, the god of fire himself.


Book of Wars
First Adventure of the White Horse
See also
Indian Art
Type of artwork: 
Credit line: 
James Parmelee Fund

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