Postcard depicting Kaliya Mardan

S.S. Brij Basi & Sons (Karachi)Early 20th century

Museum of Art & Photography

Museum of Art & Photography
Bangalore, India

A postcard depicting the scene of Kaliya Mardan by an unknown artist that is reminiscent of Ravi Varma's composition of the same. Printed in Germany for the Indian market.

According to Hindu mythology, Kaliya was the name of a Naga (semi-divine serpent) who moved to the Yamuna River in Vrindavan and began to poison its waters with his venom. In one version of the story, poisonous fumes began to rise from the river, cows drinking its water began to die, and Krishna was approached by the townspeople for help. In another version, Krishna chases after a ball that falls into the river while playing with his friends. Then he proceeds to overpower Kaliya, leaping onto his head and dancing, while assuming the weight of the whole universe – slowly draining Kaliya of his strength and life. It is believed that Kaliya's wives come and pray to Krishna to pardon their husband and spare his life, thus saving him. Some depictions therefore, also show them surrounding the dancing Krishna.


  • Title: Postcard depicting Kaliya Mardan
  • Creator: S.S. Brij Basi & Sons (Karachi)
  • Date Created: Early 20th century
  • Location: India; Germany
  • Physical Dimensions: H.14 cm, W. 9 cm
  • Type: Postcard
  • Rights: Courtesy of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP)
  • Medium: Chromolithograph
  • Museum No.: POP.00728
  • Department: Popular Culture

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