Gum tempera and ink on paper
Paper: 55.5 x 36.2 cm (21 7/8 x 14 1/4 in.); Painting only: 32.2 x 51.5 cm (12 11/16 x 20 1/4 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 2022.45
Krishna’s arrowheads are crescent-shaped, meaning that they have the destructive power of special mantras.
From a series depicting the life of Krishna, an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, this scene takes place at the demon king Naraka’s citadel. Seen from above, the mountaintop fortress is surrounded by concentric fortifications that recall the format of a mandala.
In the upper left chambers, Naraka sits with nymphs he abducted from heaven. At the right, coming to rescue them, the blue Krishna with his wife blasts through the fortifications on his man-eagle mount Garuda. He prepares to shoot a crescent-shaped arrowhead that has the magical power of a mantra capable of destroying the multiheaded red demon guard.
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