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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Unknown Artist
The Disrobement of Draupadi, from a Mahabharata Series
Work Type
19th century
Creation Place: South Asia, India, Himachal Pradesh
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
25.5 x 33.3 cm (10 1/16 x 13 1/8 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mr. Frederic Wulsin
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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The painting depicts a pivotal scene from the Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata. Draupadi, the daughter of Drupada, King of Panchala, has just been gambled away in a game of Parcheesi by her husband, Yudhishthira, King of Indraprashta. Her husband was a successful leader of the Pandava side in the Kurukshetra War, which the Mahabharata is the focus of. Yudhishthira lost his wife to Duryodhana and his magic dice. Duryodhana was the Crown Prince of the Hastinapur Kingdom and on the Kaurava side of the Kurukshetra war. Duryodhana was insulted by Draupadi, so this was an opportunity to humiliate her among all the many kings gathered at this gambling event. He asks his brother Dussasana to disrobe her. Draupadi realizes that her passive husband will not come to her aid, so she begins to pray to Krishna, the eighth avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu who is revered was a deity in his own right, and is a major character in the Mahabharata. Miraculously, her sari seems to be never-ending, and eventually, Dussasana is exhausted from trying to disrobe her.
The background features an assembly of kings seated on an enclosed terrace. The elderly king at the center of the terrace is the blind King Pandu, the father of Duryodhana. Standing at the edge of the center of the terrace with his arm extended is Duryodhana. He gestures to Dussasana, who attempts to disrobe Draupadi. She stands on a pile of fabric, signifying her never-ending garments. The Parcheesi game rests on the floor in the center.

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