Jubilant Child Krishna


Jubilant Child Krishna



Images of the mischievous but endearing child Krishna are among the most charming created by south Indian artists, especially in metal. A favourite was that in which the naked toddler is shown dancing in joy holding a butter ball in his
right hand. Symbolically the ball may also double as the universe, as it does in the hand of the adult Vishnu who is no different from Krishna. The pedestal with rings and the circular base make it clear that this was meant to be a processional image but without these supports the representation is remarkable for its naturalism and spontaneity.
The robust toddler with plump but muscular legs is given a belly bloated with the butter and other goodies he has consumed. He is naked except for various ornaments as befitting a child from an affluent family. Noteworthy is the necklace with a pair of tiger claws that he wears as a talisman. The only unnatural part of his anatomy is the profusion of his hair and its sophisticated arrangement into a crown, unlikely for his tender age. His posture too is that of an accomplished dancer rather than a prankster child. The step he takes with his right leg is expertly balanced by the graceful extension of his left arm, as if he has mastered the technique.
Curious is the depiction of the pupils of his eyes in his boyish face that seem to make him squint. A sculpture of great charm and originality, this dancing figure of the jubilant butter thief remains a fascinating realisation of the lively theme by an unknown master sculptor of a Karnataka workshop at the height of the Vijayanagara empire, perhaps under the great monarch Achyutaraya (1529–42).



Object Type





Vijayanagara period


Lost Wax


15th century CE


Bellary district, Karnataka dist.,


42 cm.