This brass masterpiece, 34" tall and 16" wide, represents Krishna as Venu Gopal, the enrapt flute player. Fine execution, sensitive treatment of subject, perfect anatomical balance and great emotionality impart to it unique artistic merit and worth. The statue is an excellent example of how a piece of jewellery may transform into a divine icon with dimensions of a human figure. Except for its size, by its precision, elegance and exceptional beauty, it could well be a pendant to a necklace.
In it, the toughness of metal has been softened to yield the finest forms, minutest details, calligraphic contours, fluidity of lines, music's softness, and a song's lyricism. One of the most popular forms of Krishna is his Tribhanga, three-curved, posture, a deity-form, which the Banke Bihari temple at Vrindavana, one of the main shrines of Vaishnavism, enshrines. The image here moves to five directions, and has greater rhythm and magic for viewing eye. The face with crown tilts to left, the shoulder to right, the hip to left, the knee to right, and finally, the right foot to left. For this five-curved image of Krishna the Vaishnava iconography has no name. Brass statues are anodized for various colour effects but not so befittingly as here. Anodizing elevates here ordinary brass to Krishna's divine complexion.
This statue, an excellent work of metal-cast, represents Krishna as playing on his flute. He knows not when his legs moved to a dance mode and entire figure twisted to its notes, sending it into multi-curves. He is enraptured by the melody, which he himself is creating on his flute. Though this flute-playing form of Krishna is one of his most popular manifestations in his Lalita-rupa, it nonetheless reveals the pith of Vaishnava mysticism too. He, Who Himself is the Creator of Maya, the manifest world, is as much its slave. The divine ecstasy, which his flute effects, leaves the flute player transformed into a rhythmic trance. Now from his face and figure reveals the divine bliss and the unique bhava, in which blends contentment, rapture, and essence of music, dance and divine grace. The bhava also reveals in the entire cosmos, which his sash, flanking on sides, represents by its ecstatic curves.
Iconography, especially modeling of eyes, adornment and atmosphere that the artist created around the figure of Krishna in this statue, adhere to Orissa tradition of Vaishnava art. In Orissa, Krishna is not one of the incarnations of Vishnu but himself Vishnu or Jagannath. For emphasising this unity of Vishnu and Krishna, the artist conceived Krishna with the towering Vaishnava crown and tilaka. A couple of peacock feather surmounting it, however, turns it to Krishna-cult. In classical imagery, Vishnu is always conceived with a halo and lotus and Krishna very rarely. This image of Krishna has a halo behind its head. The halo comprises a ring of lotuses. Both lotuses and halo are elements of Vaishnava image. The artist, however, so shaped the halo and lotuses that they look more like a peacock feather rather than a halo and become part of Krishna.
The figure of Lord Krishna is placed on a high and elaborately rendered pitha, pedestal. Lotus leaf-like shaped octagonal pedestal comprises decorative friezes and lotuses. Lord Krishna is wearing khadayun, wooden slippers, and an exquisitely embellished lower garment. On his waist, he is wearing a broad girdle with beautiful bells frilling around. The drapery is heavily plated and large sash-ends flank most artistically on both sides. A dually stringed garland hung down the knees. He is adorned from toes to head with heavy ornaments gold bangles, bracelets, armlets, brooches, necklaces, anklets and so on. From the crown burst out locks of hair, which on the right side are dressed in a small coiffure.
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 books.
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