Peacock: In Indian Art, Thought and Literature

Peacock: In Indian Art, Thought and Literature

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Item Code: IDI078
Author: Krishna Lal
Publisher: Abhinav Publication
Language: English
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 97881701742955
Pages: 169 (Throughout Color and B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 11.0 inch x 9.0 inch
Weight 960 gm
About The Book

The National Bird of India is the Peacock. Majestic and graceful, with a beautiful form and charming colors, it caught the fancy of the Indian artisans from early times, who used it profusely in their artistic creations. From the Harappan period to the present day, in every art expression the Peacock is beautifully portrayed. It has been depicted as a sacred bird; mount of Kartikeya an important deity of Hindu pantheon and an absent lover in the miniature paintings.

The present monograph is an in-depth study of all aspects related to this bird -its habitat, history, narration in Indian mythology and literature various forms its used and medicinal properties mentioned in ancient texts. 107 carefully selected colourful illustrations and 25 sketches on the subject show various aspects of Peacock in art forms.


About The Author

Ms. Krishna Lal (M.A. history from Aligarh University) served in the department of Decorative Arts and Textiles for 34 years in the National Museum, New Delhi. In 1971-72, she was awarded a French Government Scholarship to study in France for a 'Diploma in Museography'. Under Cultural Exchange programmes, she made a special study of Decorative Arts, visiting most museums in France and the then U.S.S.R.

Ms. Lal Participated in several seminars and international conferences held in U.K. Mexico and Greece and presented papers there. In addition to coordinating several national and participant in the festival of India Exhibition, She was an active participant in the Festival of India Exhibition in U.K. France and the U.S.S.R. during 1982-88.

Her literary/ research work includes writing a catalogue " Bidriware in the National Museum Collection, New Delhi" (1990), two catalogues on " Indian Decorative Arts" published in German (1985) in Russian (1987) co-authoring two books titled "Tourism Museums and Monuments in India" (1974) and "Cultural Tourism in India" (2003). She has also contributed a chapter on "Indian Decorative Arts" in Masterpieces of National Museum Collection published by the National Museum in 1985.

After retiring from the national Museum in 1994, she joined the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts as an adviser for documentation and cataloguing of the art objects in the Cultural Archives of the Centre and worked there for five years.

Presently she busy in a research project assigned by the Government of India.



From early childhood, I was much fascinated by the peacock, its majestic and graceful from and the charming colors of its plumage. My curiosity and fascination was later whetted when I saw at the National Museum New Delhi, a figure of the Peacock painted on a burial jar from Harappa carrying a man in its stomach then a peacock as a vehicle for Skanda in stone sculpture and bronze as also a wooden peacock with a seat at its back to carry deities during a procession. After further study I learnt that the Peacock found an honourable place among the decorative motifs of Indian Arts such as pottery sculptures terracottas, bronzes, textiles, paintings and applied arts- ivory, jewellery, metalware, etc. Based on my early study, I published a paper entitled 'Peacock in Indian art', in the Journal of the Oriental Institute of the M.S. University of Baroda, in 1973.

The paper received appreciation from several eminent art historians and thus I was encouraged to study the subject in detail. My official duties as Keeper of Decorative Arts in the National Museum kept me occupied most of time. But whatever little time I could spare, I devoted to collecting material, selecting and acquiring from service that I could devote ample time to sift through my notes, work the final chapters, arrange the photographs and give the book its final shape.

At present, I have been assigned the task of cataloguing the Textile Collection of the National Museum.


Preface 7
Acknowledgements 9
Introduction 11
List of Illustrations 17
List of Sketches 23
Chapter 1: Peacock in History, Mythology and Literature 25
Chapter 2: Peacock in Stone, Terracotta and Bronze Sculpture 39
Chapter 3: Peacock in Paintings 47
Chapter 4: Peacock in Decorative Arts 65
Chapter 5: Peacock in Textiles 101
Chapter 6: Peacock- Its Uses 129
References 135
Appendix I: Takht-I- Taos (Peacock Throne) 139
Appendix II: Peacock in Brihat Samhita 141
Appendix III: Peacock in Charaka Samhita 146
Appendix IV: Peacock in Sushrut Samhita 149
Glossary 153
Bibliography 159
Index 167


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