Nala Damayanti

West Bengal, Calcutta

Not on view

The tale of King Nala and his beloved wife the princess Damayanti is one of the best-known romance dramas within the epic Mahabharata. [There, it is r] Retold in the famous Nishadha Charita, one of the five famous epic poems, the Mahakavyas, of Sanskrit literature, written by Sriharsha. In this poem, Nala loses all in a gambling match, and the couple is forced into exile in the forests, the abode of serpents (nagas) and demons (asuras). Here the princess sleeps on the ground as Nala gazes pensively, reflecting on his ill-fortune, brought about by his weakness for the dice. Numerous misadventures are visited upon the unfortunate royals before all is restored. A crowned diaphanous figure emerges from the storm clouds to tell Nala to desert his wife in search of his lost kingdom. This melodrama is enacted in a landscape setting that is worthy of a stage backdrop.

Nala Damayanti, Lithograph, printed in black and hand-coloring with watercolor and selectively applied glaze, West Bengal, Calcutta

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