This Patachitra painting was done by an artist on the broad guidelines that I wanted a black and white kandarpa Hathi. In Hindu mythology, the kandarpa hathi means the erotic vehicle of love (the elephant – the hathi) that the Gopis (female cowherds) make during raasleela with Lord Krishna. You can read more about the Kandarpa theme and feast your eyes of some more such works here
Anyway, back to the painting. When she (the artist) finally finished it and handed it over to me, I was pleased with it; however, what I wasn’t prepared for was my continuing delight with it as time progressed. Every time I would gaze at the painting, I would discover something new in it. At first it was the pleated hair on the last Gopi making the elephant’s tail, then it was the ‘odhani'(scarf) of the gopi forming the head of the elephant. Then how the Gopis interlocked in each others embrace – they seemed happy and non competing – in some sort of a trance, dancing & swaying to some unearthly music only heard by them. In fact, mythology has it that during the rasleelas each gopi felt Krishna was dancing only beside her.
Look at the painting closely. The temple structure, the pillars and the double border of the painting -isn’t there so much beauty in the details that it’s magical? Can you spot more stories in this painting? Would love to hear about it. 🙂