Festival Banner Showing Krishna Rescuing and Marrying Rukmini

India, Punjab Hills, kingdom of Chamba

Not on view

This banner was likely used in an annual festival commemorating Krishna’s marriage to his first wife, Rukmini, that is still celebrated today in parts of the Himalayan foothills. As the work was shown only periodically, the colors remain vivid. The brilliant hues were produced from vegetable dyes: red derived from cochineal and lac insects, blue and green from indigo plants, and orange from safflower. In contrast, the silk threads, which were bleached white or etched with mordant to enable black coloring to bond to the fibers, have disintegrated, making it possible to see the underdrawing. Painted in henna with details created in carbon black, the preparatory sketch served as the guide for the final embroidery. This technique is similar to that used to make preliminary sketches for paintings, which are also produced in red and black.

Festival Banner Showing Krishna Rescuing and Marrying Rukmini, Cotton embroidered with floss silk dyed with safflower, cochineal, lac, and indigo, and metal-wrapped thread, India, Punjab Hills, kingdom of Chamba

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