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9. An illustration to a Mahabharata series: Vidura confers with Dhritharashtra
Kangra, North India
c. 1820; Attributed to Purkhu
Opaque pigments heightened with gold on paper
18 ½ x 13 ¼ in. (47 x 34 cm.)
An illustration to a Mahabharata series: Vidura confers with Dhritharashtra

This leaf from the Mahabharata is a depiction of the scene in which the blind king ofHastinapur, Dhristarashtra, confers with Vidura, the most respected adviser of the Pandavas.

The rival Kauravas and the Pandavas have gathered with weapons at the ready. To the left are Bhima, Yudhishthira, Drona, Arjuna, as well as the twins Nakula, and Sahadeva. To the right stands Duryodhana and Ashwatthama. Clad in shimmering gold armor to the far left, gifted by his father the sun god Surya, stands Karna. To the upper right sits Gandhari, mother of the Kauravas, blind folded to share her husband’s debility. On the opposite corner is Kunti, mother of the Pandavas.

“In many narrative paintings ascribed to Purkhu and his workshop, diagonals are employed freely in the composition and architecture is a dominant characteristic. Several balconies and terraces, walls and connecting courtyards appear, peopled with multiple figures. Although unable to convey spatial depth in the scene, these elements of design are considered essential for the narrative and for the establishment of atmosphere (Goswamy and Fischer, 1992, pg. 371).”

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