Clad entirely in lotus petals and sitting on lotus thrones, Radha and Krishna here gaze intently into each other's eyes. Images of Radha and Krishna in flower adornment (phulsajjya) are somewhat rare, and the absence of inscription to accompany such paintings prevents a precise definition of the significance of the iconographic formula. Lotuses, however, are multivalent symbols with a long history of use in the religious imagery of the Indian subcontinent. Since lotuses rise gleaming and fresh out of muddy ponds, they generally represent fertility and purity. The lotus-petal garments further suggest a common act of devotional worship through the offering of flowers to the gods. Within the specific context of the worship of Radha and Krishna, the lotus may refer to the blissful union of the two in the land of Brindavan, Krishna's childhood home. Pilgrimage maps often depicted Brindavan in the shape of a lotus. Radha's lotus braid is a charming extra detail added by the artist.

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Lotus-Clad Radha and Krishna

Lotus-Clad Radha and Krishna
India, Punjab Hills, Basohli, ca. 1730. Opaque watercolor on paper. Lent by the Gursharan and Elvira Sidhu Collection.