|In this evocation of a momentous scene from the Mahabharata epic, the imperious expression and outstretched arm of the Kaurava prince Duryodhana direct attention to the miracle unfolding below. Duryodhana's brother Dushasana forcibly attempts to disrobe Draupadi in the center of the assembly hall. Draupadi's husbands, the Pandavas, who have lost her as well as their kingdom in a crooked game of dice, sit helplessly to the right.|
The Disrobing of Draupadi
Attributed to Nainsukh (1710-1778). India, Punjab Hills, Basohli, ca. 1765. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper. Lent by the Howard Hodgkin Collection, London.
|As Dushasana repeatedly tries to strip Draupadi, Krishna's divine grace provides her with an unending length of material as a sari, thus sparing her further humiliation. The episode of the dice game and the disrobing of Draupadi is the most important drama enacted in an eighteen-night festival held in many towns and cities. This inauspicious event, which tarnishes Draupadi's honor, marks her metamorphosis from contented wife into vengeful goddess.