Krishna is a Hindu deity often depicted as a
young man playing the flute. In some Hindu
traditions he is regarded as an incarnation of
Vishnu. According to ancient epics, such as the
Mahabharata, he was born of royal parents, the
princess Devaki and her husband Vasudeva.
Devaki’s brother had previously seized the
throne unlawfully and deposed their father. A
prophecy warned him that one of Devaki’s
children would seek revenge for this unlawful act
so he tried to obliterate them. Krishna escaped
and was brought up by foster parents, Yasoda
and Nanda in Gokul. Nanda was the head of a
community of cow-herders hence the
iconography of the present piece. Krishna
became known as ‘Govinda’ (finder of cows) or
‘Gopala’ (protector of cows) and is often depicted
leaning against a standing cow. Other traditions
illustrate him surrounded by milkmaids.
In this piece the divine herdsman raises his flute
to his lips, the end of which is hung with bells.
He stands in a relaxed pose with his right leg
bent at the knee and his left foot raised off the
ground, clearly resting his weight on the cow.
The gilded details of his dhoti are extraordinary
and he is also heavily adorned with jewellery,
presumably reflecting his royal background.
A sense of movement is implied by the
headdress which leans towards the figure’s right.
Both figures stand on an octagonal two-tiered
brass base. This is a charming and detailed piece
in excellent condition. The technique of working
in two metals is referred to as 'Ganga Jumna',
and represents the meeting of the Ganga and
Jumna rivers in India. (AM)