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Manuscripts

Gita Govinda of Jayadeva

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Gita Govinda of Jayadeva
18th Century A.D.

Language: Sanskrit Script: Oriya
Materials: Palm-leaf
Dimensions: L: 26.5 W: 5.6 cm.
Acc. No. 57.46

One of the rare masterpieces, this palm leaf portraying in the centre Lord Jagannatha, the trio of the blue-bodied Krishna on the left, fair-complexioned Balarama, on the right, and sister Subhadra, in the centre, and text contained into neatly drawn vertical and rectangular columns on all sides, is a folio of the Gita Govinda, the great 12th century Sanskrit poem that had completely revolutionized the Vaishnava Bhakti movement. The poem in epic format was composed by Jaideva, the court poet of the Bengal&rsquos last Hindu ruler Lakshmanasena. The artist has conceived a temple form for enshrining the deities and containing the text.

The Gita Govinda is a poem with moderate length though set in epical formative extends into twelve Cantos. The palm leaf manuscript to which this folio belongs consists of fourteen leaves, each canto, except two, being contained into one leaf space, the two, with illustrations, overlapping. Whatever the constraint of the medium and its colour-resistant nature, the artist has shown rare ingenuity in minutely inscribing the text and drawing the figures. These leaves are stitched together like a hanging for keeping them intact. A pair of peacock, and another, that of loins are sitting on the upper wall of the temple and a full blown lotus on the top balances the entire ambience.

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