THE ICONOGRAPHY OF LORD KRISHNA IN CHANGING TIMES, WHEN DID FAMILIAR BLUE BODY AND YELLOW CLOTHES START?

THE ICONOGRAPHY OF LORD KRISHNA IN CHANGING TIMES,
WHEN DID FAMILIAR BLUE BODY AND YELLOW CLOTHES START?

Krishna 14th century

It is interesting to know that iconography of gods and goddesses change over a period of time. We used to watch Abdur Rahman Chughtai paint Hindu themes. The blue body and yellow clothes vexed us. Our questions were usual, why blue? The usual answer was that he was bitten by a snake and that is why it is blue? But all ancients texts, including the word KRSHNA in Sanskirit means BLACK. The ancient imagery changed over the times. Usually we find a young naked boy, with a fantastic cap on his head, known as the butter-thief. But as time went on, plenty of jewelry adorned Lord Krishna, and a yellow dhoti surrounded his body. Obviously a Peacock feather came in his head dress. That today is routine.

Krishna in Mughal view
Krishna in Mughal dress

It was Emperor Zainul Abideen who started the translation of Hindu Holy texts into Persian language, and that was in Kashmeer itself. The Mughals were very much interested in knowing more about Hindu religion and Emperor Akbar started avidly the process of translating the Holy Texts. There was much resentment in the Brahmins, who did not want the texts to fall in hands and knowledge of common people. But there it was clash of an egalitarian society with a rigid class system here. The Mughals (even their ladies commissioned Royal albums of Hindu texts) were reluctant to use a masculine naked imagery and the clothing of Krishna came into being. The evolution of the new Krishna iconography.

Radha and Krishna

This continued and spread all over the Indian region. Contrary to familiar argument that painters fled the Mughal Court within the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb, it was actually the sack of Delhi by Nadir Shah, which triggered this movement. In fact Emperor Aurangzeb even had a wife of Hindu origin. But more on that later!

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