The present volume of the Annual Series of Art and Culture carrying the
sub-title ‘Painting and Perspective’ relates to the following themes: (a)
Cultural set – up and Values; (b) Sculpture and Painting and (c) Science
and Technology. The articles of the volume are not restricted to any
particular period or geographical area. Moreover, the purpose is to
encourage scholars to think and write in terms of social mores and values
as far as possible.
The names of the contributors along with their contributions are given
A. Jan Qaisar and Som Prakash Verma, ‘The Miftahul Fuzala: A Study of an
Illustrations; Som Prakash Verma, ‘Symbols and Motifs in the Mughal School
of Art’; Som Prakash Verma, ‘Similar Themes, Different treatment; The
Mughal Experience’; A. Jan Qaisar, ‘Similar themes, different treatment;
The European experience’; Sreeramula Rajeswara Sarma, ‘Scientific
Instruments: Evidence from Mughal Paintings’; Som Prakash Verma, ‘Ordinary
Life in Mughal India’; A survey of Mughal painting’; Asloob Ahmad Ansari,
‘William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’; Neelima Vashishtha,
‘Sculptural depiction of the Ramayana themes in the temple of Dadhimatimata
in Rajasthan’; A Jan Qaisar, ‘Packaging Technology and Stowing Technique
during the Seventeenth Century’; Hassan Imam, ‘Educational and Political
Perceptions of Muslim Women during Trivedi, ‘Female performing Artistes in
North India: A Survey.
Ahasn Jan Qaisar (b. 1933) is a product of Aligarh Muslim University. He
resigned from his alma mater in October 1994 as a Professor of Social and
Cultural History. He is the author of two books published by the Oxford
University Press, New Delhi: The Indian Response to European Technology and
Culture, A.D. 1498-1707 (1982) and Building construction in Mughal India:
The Evidence from Paintings (1988). He has edited Art and Culture
(Felicitation Volume in Honour of Professor S. Nurul Hasan) in 1993 and Art
and Culture: Endeavours in Interpretation in 1996, both jointly with
Professor Som Prakash Verma. He worked as a Visiting Fellow for one year at
the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (India) during 1974 – 1975.
He went to the U.K. on a visiting fellowship sponsored by the Indian
council of historical research, New Delhi (1977 – 78). Later he worked at
the University of Wisconsin (Madison) during 1986-87 as a Fulbright fellow.
He was the president of the medieval India section of the Indian History
Congress on the occasion of its Golden Jubilee Year, held at Goa in 1987.
He has been a member of the advisory board (Medieval India), Indian
National Commission for History of Science (INSA), New Delhi. He also
served as the Chairman of the above Advisory Board (1996 – 98). Qaisar has
attended a number of International Seminars and Conferences on History of
Science and Technology. He has published path breaking articles in may
journals, Indian and foreign.
Professor Som Prakash Verma (b.1942), an art historian, at present at the
Centre of Advanced Study, Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University,
has three books and numerous articles to his credit. His Art and Material
Culture in the Paintings of Akbar’s Court published in 1978 by Vikas
Publishing House, New Delhi, may rightly be said to be the first authentic
treatment of art as a source of history by an Indian scholar. His second
work entitled Mughal Painters and Their Work – A Biographical Survey and
Comprehensive Catalogue was published in 1994 by Oxford University Press,
New Delhi. This is the first comprehensive book of reference as well as a
critical reappraisal of the works of more than two hundred Mughal painters.
His third book Mughal Pinter of Flora and Fauna, Ustad Mansur was published
in 1999 by Abhivan Publications, New Delhi. He edited the volume Flora and
Fauna in Mughal Art, Marg Publications, Mumbai, 1999.
Professor Verma is a practicing artist as well. He is the recipient of two
prestigious awards by the Indian Academy of Fine Arts, Amritsar (1981) and
the Academy of Fine Arts, Calcutta (1982).
In 1986-7, he worked at the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, D.C. as a Fulbright Fellow.
Here is yet another volume of our Art and Culture; actually the third one
in our proposed series.
This volume carries the sub – title ‘Painting and Perspective’. Art,
whether paintings or sculpture, is not value – free. We may go to the
extent of saying that no human endeavour in any sphere of life can escape
the value syndrome. The moment an individual, a group or a community
decides to create or do something, values, aspirations and objectives start
playing their role nay, their very decision is determined by an assortment
of motivations and ideals. Utilitarian requirements and pragmatic
considerations, too, cannot cold shoulder the prevailing or fresh mores and
values of a cultural environment.
It is not rational to look upon paintings as a purely aesthetic exercise
since aesthetics itself is a complex product of refined thought and
reflection rooted in the psyche of social groups during the course of their
various material activities.
Colour is the keystone of a painting, and do we need reminding ourselves
that colour is obtained from material objects? But colour combination in a
painting for contrast or other purposes, is the result of the artist’s
individual perceptions and insight. Indeed, a study of painting would be
bereft of any meaning it they are not situated in their contemporary
Keeping in view the above observations, the majority of the articles in the
present volume in some way elaborate our understanding what art constitutes
of. One can glean from paintings facets of science and technology, daily
life of the people, children’s games, symbols and signs of cultural
significance, attitude towards nudity, etc. Sculpture claims only one
contribution, depicting some episodes of the Ramayana.
Of especial mention is a piece of literary criticism concerning William
Blake, the unique English poet, who used to illustrate his mystic verses in
an exclusive manner. The reader will find that only three articles in the
volume are without pictures: two belong to the category of women’s studies,
and one is on an aspect of marine transport technology. We have avoided
diacritical marks with some exceptions.
We take this opportunity to thank the contributors who warmly responded,
when requested, to participate in our earnest undertaking.
Once again, we are sincerely grateful to our experienced and distinguished
publisher Mr. Shakti Mali (Abhivan Publications, New Delhi) for bringing
out this volume against heavy odds.
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