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‘Hiranyagarbha’ (the Golden Egg) by Manaku

On January 4, an egg broke the internet and the world will never be the same again. The ‘world record egg‘ became the “most-liked” picture on Instagram, beating Kylie Jenner’s record of 18 million likes. So we thought – why not introduce the world to another “famous” egg from the 18th century. This isn’t an ordinary egg-photo but a hologram-like painting created by the master painter Manaku. Read on:

This masterpiece by Manaku deserves to be as recognized: The Hiranyagarbha (Golden Egg) is an interpretation of an ancient story.

The painting:

The story of creation has fascinated generations around the world. According to the Matsya-purana (a Hindu scripture), after the great dissolution of the universe, the SWAYAMBHU (the self manifested being), arose. It created the primordial waters first and placed the seed of creation into it, which turned into a golden womb, the Hiranyagarbha. The Golden Egg or Hiranyagarbha floated around in the ocean of non-existence till it broke into two and Life began.

To communicate a story such as this with a visual is no ordinary feat; Manaku achieved this way back in 1740!

What also makes this Egg a masterpiece is the way it is painted

Back in April 2018, we worked with Prof. Goswamy owing to a collaboration with the Oxford University Press which had published ‘Readings in Indian Art’. That is when we got to know, this painting has a 3-D effect. When laid flat, it appears brown but once it is held in hand to be viewed, it gleams golden. It’s like one of those holograms we played with as kids; only, it was created more than 200 years ago! Manku’s brilliance is also evident in the contrast he creates between the swirls of the ocean in the background and the stillness of the perfectly oval Golden Egg in the foreground.

You don’t even have to venture somewhere far away abroad to see this masterpiece! It’s in our very own Bharat Kala Bhavan in Varanasi, a folio of the Bhagavata Purana series in their collection.

Who was Manaku?

Manaku was the older brother of celebrated painter Nainsukh hailed from a small town (Guler) in the hills of northern India. His series on poet Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda and the Bhagvata Purana are considered to be masterpieces given his precise workmanship and treatment of various scenes. The two brothers’ contribution towards Pahari art has been tremendous.

Solve a Manaku jigsaw puzzle here

Take a look at this portrait of Manaku painted by his brother, Nainsukh [part of the Govt. Museum & Art Gallery Chandigarh collection]

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