Ceremonial Dagger with Fluting Krishna and Heraldic Eagles, 16th century
Unknown (Indian, Tamil Nadu - 16th century)
gilt copper with iron blade
26.7 cm high
Gift of Max Tanenbaum, Toronto, 1980
National Gallery of Canada (no. 26678)
Krishna is a manifestation of the god Vishnu. As a young herdsman in his native village of Vrindavan, he played the flute to charm the shepherdesses. This exceptional dagger displays a rich iconography: at centre, the divine musician is protected by Bherunda, the terrible eagle with two lion heads. Beneath him is Garuda, Vishnu's winged mount, who in turn is shown above the lion-headed Kirttimukha, the "Face of Glory." His herd of cows appears near Krishna's legs.