Metal Forms

Balarama carrying a plough over his shoulders. Bronze, cast in the cire perdue technique; 17 cm x 7 cm. Eastern India, perhaps Bihar. Contemporary. 84/6719.

In some sectarian texts of Hindu mythology, Balarama, also known as Balabhadra, the white-skinned brother of Krishna, is considered to be the eighth incarnation of Vishnu while Krishna is worshiped not as an incarnation but as the deity himself. In other accounts both the brothers together form the eighth incarnation, Krishna being created from a black, and Balarama from a white hair of Vishnu, from the wombs of Devaki and Rohini respectively. Being constant companions, the brothers were together in most of their adventures during their childhood at Ambadi.

The Vishnu Purana deals somewhat differently with the character of Balarama. He is known for his predilection for all sorts of liquor. A legend narrates his impudent demands after consuming too much alcohol. While strolling in the forest, the intoxicating fragrance of the flowers of the kadamba tree transported him into a state of inebriation. He called the river Yamuna to him so that he could bathe in her. When she refused, he got angry and threw his plough into the river and forcibly dragged her towards him. She was compelled to follow him till his anger was appeased and he finally set her free. Iconographically, Balarama is usually depicted with a drinking horn in one hand and a plough in the other which may also be hung across his shoulders.

In this image, created by the cire perdue process of metal casting, Balarama is depicted in a righteous pose with large eyes, side locks and hair tied into a conical top-knot. The breast ornamentation, in style with other figures of the region, consists of several concentric rings of necklaces and a long elaborate necklace hanging right down to the navel.

Recent items

Basketry and Matting
Dolls, Toys, Puppets and Masks
Metal Forms
Printed Wood Paper Mache Lac-Turnery
Terracotta and Glazed Pottery
Textile Traditions of India
Traditions of Indian Folk-Painting
Wood-Stone and Ivory Carving