Brass Figure of Krishna Dancing with a Butter Ball

SKU OF.010

1850 AD to 1900 AD


4.5″ (11.4cm) high x 3″ (7.6cm) wide





Gallery Location



Krishna is a Hindu deity often regarded as an incarnation of Vishnu. According to ancient epics, such as the Mahabharata, he was born of royal parents, the princess Devaki and her husband Vasudeva. Devaki’s brother had previously seized the throne unlawfully and deposed their father. A prophecy warned him that one of Devaki’s children would seek revenge for this unlawful act so he tried to obliterate them. Krishna escaped and was brought up by foster parents, Yasoda and Nanda in Gokul. Nanda was the head of a community of cow- herders hence Krishna’s association with cows, butter and milkmaids. He became known as ‘Govinda’ (finder of cows) or ‘Gopala’ (protector of cows) and is often depicted leaning against a standing cow.

In this lively piece Krishna holds a round butter ball in his right hand. As a child he was notorious for stealing butter from his neighbours. Despite his mother’s protests he frequently escaped punishment. The left arm is extended to balance his body in a dancing movement suggestive of his mischievous joy. The right leg is raised and rests on what is possibly a lotus bud. The weight rests firmly on the left leg which is bent at the knee. The body is delightfully rotund with rounded belly, breasts and buttocks. As was customary, Krishna is depicted naked except for the jeweled ornaments (which are made of brass, whereas the main figure is of bronze) which are draped elegantly over the body. Particularly splendid is the high crown or mukuta, with the details highlighted by gilding. Although the dance of the butter thief (navanita-nritta-murti) is not an uncommon subject, it is certainly rarer than depictions of Krishna playing the flute. This is a detailed and well-executed work in excellent condition.

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