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Four Centuries of Paintings and Manuscripts from the Indian Subcontinent

CAT. NO. 54

Hiranyakashipu conquers all the world's territories Pahari, Nainsukh family workshop, c.1775–90

Folio from a series depicting the Bhagavata Purana (see cat. no. 51) | Painting in opaque watercolour including gold and silver metallic paints on paper with wide painted margins | 30.5 × 38.5 cm (folio); 23.7 × 31.6 cm (image) | RCIN 925231

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Having received his wish from Brahma, Hiranyakashipu unleashed a reign of terror, conquering the world in all directions. Here he leads his demon army into battle against an army of gods including Indra (on his elephant), Yama (on his buffalo), Surya (the sun god, with an orange halo) and Chandra (the moon god, with a white halo) whose soldiers already begin to flee.

Examination using infrared reflectography reveals a number of figures in underdrawings which were not included in the final composition. Such working and reworking is visible in most of the paintings in this series, evidence that the creation process was not singly driven from the initial drawing to the end result but involved reassessment and likely collaboration as the painting progressed.[193] Colophon notes on other series of Pahari paintings reveal how artists worked closely with pandits who could read and relay the Sanskrit texts the paintings illustrated, and would at times suggest corrections.[194] 

  • [193] For the techniques and processes of Pahari painting see Cameron 2015, p. 27. For a later drawing of this painting see Losty 2017, cat. no. 13.

    [194] See Goswamy and Fischer 1992, p. 313. 

  • Thought to have been acquired by Queen Mary