Harishchandra and his Minister Killing a Tiger, folio from a Harishchandra Series

Killing a tiger in personal combat was seen as the ultimate feat of valor in Indian martial society. It is not surprising, then, that this dynamic moment in the Harishchandra narrative, a Hindu religious epic, was chosen for illustration. Itinerant storytellers of the Chitrakarthi caste recounted the epic using a set of about forty paintings in this style, whose bold, graphic quality allowed the assembled audience to view them as the story was narrated in public performance. This distinctive style of painting has traditionally been associated with the town of Paithan, near Aurangabad in Maharashtra.

Opaque watercolor and ink on paper


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Metropolitan Museum of Art

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