The Mahant (priest) offers Elokeshi a drink - 996.117.6_1


The Mahant (priest) offers Elokeshi a drink

Maker: Unknown artist
Medium:Watercolour on paper
Geography: Kalighat, Kolkata, Bengal, India
Date: 19th century
Object number: 996.117.6
Credit Line: Gift of Cawthra Mulock
Not on view

This image is part of a series of images representing a public scandal in 19th-century Kolkata of an illicit love affair between a young housewife and the head prient of a local shrine. Popularly referred to as the "Tarakeshwar affair," this 1873 incident involved the seduction and rape of Elokeshi, the young wife, by the head priest, her subsequent decapitation by her Government-official husband, his surrender and confession, and a public trial in which the husband and priest are found guilty. The popularity of this hisotrical event resulted in its translation into theatrical plays and popular paintings, such as this one, which illustrates the priest's romantic advances or his attempt to revive Elokeshi when she faints after taking his childbirth medication.

Kalighat paintings are characterized by bright, broad washes of color and were made in the neighborhood of Calcutta's Kalighat temple in the late19th and early 20th centuries. Subjects ranged from religious images to contemporary events and social commentary. They are an example of early mass produced images that resulted from the migration of artists from rural to urban spaces  and the new demands of a growing population in colonial India. They were frequently picked up by western tourists travelling through India since Calcutta was a major port city.

South Asia
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