AMNH 70.0/8318 Adiparwa: Sang Weda and Uttangka

Date range: 1820 - 1880

Adiparwa. The story of Uttangka.

This painting is in fourteen scenes, organised thus (AMNH 70.2/1107 shows the narrative incident which immediately preceeds this story): In Scene 1 Uttangka, a novice priest, talks to his teacher, Weda, and Weda's wife, who, according to the story, orders him to go and request earrings (a ring?) from the wife of King Posya. In Scene 2 Uttangka encounters a cow-herd along the way. In Scene 3 the cow-herd asks the novice to eat the shit of the cow he has with him, which he does. Scene 4 - Uttangka meets with King Posya. According to the story, Uttangka cannot see Posya's wife because he is impure, and therefore has to bathe first. He bathes in Scene 5 (actually depicted before Scene 4), and meets the queen in Scene 6. Scene 7 - Uttangka curses the king to be blind because he has offered him impure food (the reciprocal curse, that Uttangka will be infertile, is not shown). Scene 8 - Uttangka bathes, and while he does Taksaka, the snake ruler, steals the ring given to Uttangka in Scene 6. Scene 9 - a human figure in a blue coat (Taksaka also wears blue) talks to Uttangka, who has his hands in a gesture of sorrow. Scene 10 - in the right half of this scene an elephant is shown (the story explains that the cow in Scene 3 is actually the elephant of the god Indra), and in the left half Uttangka is shown passing fire (the entrance to the underworld of the snakes?). Scene 11 - Uttangka encounters Taksaka again (or could this be the scene which follows Scene 9?). Scene 12 - Uttangka sees the signs of five children and eight cakra or discus (in the Sanskrit original six children and a wheel with twelve spokes). Scene 13 - Uttangka blows into what appears to be a bellows from which fire issues (to smoke out the snakes' realm). Scene 14 - Uttangka talks to Taksaka (who presumably is returning the ring). This langse is a fine work, although with much flaking, probably 19th century, despite the fact that it is on European cloth.

232 by 83 cm
European cloth (cotton)

Collection of the American Museum of Natural History

Depicts: Adiparwa

Previously in the Bateson and Mead Collection

original institutional site