balarama putul (Figure)

About this object

History of use

These figures were made by Bengali potters for sale as ritual objects at Shelda Market in Calcutta during the Bengali equivalent of the Ratha Yatra Festival. After the Festival, their function doubles as toys for children. Made by Bengali Kumbhakara caste (Kumara).

Narrative

Local mythology explains that the carpenter and architect of the gods, Viswa Karma, was interrupted while making the original temple image and refused to complete it, leaving it in an unfinished crude form.

Iconographic meaning

This figure depicts Balarama, seventh son of Vasudeva and Devaki and the older brother of Krishna, or, in this instance, of Jagannath, a form of Krishna. His complexion is usually white or blue and he is said to have been reared with Krishna in a cowherd's family at Vrindaban. In his form in the Jagannath trinity he is called Balbhadra.

Physical description

Clay model of human figure. Torso is pinched at waist. Lower extremities form skirt that also serves as solid base. The skirt is painted yellow, red, and green. Arms are stumpy and roughly depicted. Face is painted blue with orange features. Wears silver crown.