About the Book:
The Mughals brought miniature painting, an offshoot of manuscript painting to India in the 14th-15th centuries. It took deep root in what is known today as Rajasthan, hence the name Rajasthani painting. Its implantation in Rajasthan is mainly due to the close political and social contacts between the Mughal rulers of North India and the feudal Rajput princelings who flourished in northwestern India between the 15th and 18th centuries.
Many Rajput rulers and their courtiers were highly cultivated, and their courts were centres where the arts and artists received unstinted encouragement from their royal patrons. This was particularly so of painting, and what began as an offshoot of Mughal painting because in the years between the inception of Mughal rule and the British occupation of India from the 18th century, there was a rich flowering of many schools and styles of miniature painting which have found avid admirers among connoisseurs of art the world over.
Unfortunately, although Rajasthani paintings are treasured art collectors' items much sought after by discerning lovers of art because of their intrinsic merit, little effort has been expended to delve deep into the various modes of this painting and present an overall picture of the numerous schools, styles and substyles which are the priceless heritage today not only of Rajasthan, their place of birth, but also of India as a whole.
Art experts, mainly foreign savants, have written knowledgeably about various aspects of Rajasthani painting, but nobody, it is worth recording, has undertaken to produce a comprehensive study in depth of this vast cultural field. This is absolutely essential as no study of India civilisation is complete without it.
The present study does not claim to fulfil this requirement. That would need much more intensive, detailed and patient research. But it provides a good point of takeoff for such a study.
In Splendour of Rajasthani Painting, assembled obviously with great care and deep love of the subject, Dr. Jai Singh Neeraj has laid the ground-work for such a project.
He has succeeded in conveying to the art-loving reader the fact that Rajasthani art is a many-splendoured thing that deserves much more attention than it has received so far.
About the Author:
Born on February 11, 1929 at Tolawas (Alwar) in Rajasthan, Dr. Neeraj is one of the distinguished authors of Hindi. With a brilliant academic career he jointed the teaching profession, and after serving the department for more than three decades, retired as Principal of a Govt. College in Rajasthan. An eminent poet and critic Dr. Neeraj has to his credit a large number of reputed publications, such as: Neel Jai Soi Parchhaiyan (Poetry 63), Dukhant Samaroh (Poetry 71), Rajasthani Painting and Krishnayat Poetry (Theses 76), Srijan Ke Vividh Ayam (Essays 83), Dhani Ka Admi (Poetry 85), Besides, he has edited a number of books/magazines for Rajasthan Sahitya Academy and Rajasthan Secondary Education Board. He is a recipient of Rajasthan Sahitya Academy award for his creative work in Hindi.
A member of the Executive of Rajasthan Sahitya Academy, Dr. Neeraj has been associated with a number of institutions like Shruti Mandal, Rajasthan Kala Kendra and United front of Writers, Artists and Intellectuals, Jaipur. His writings have appeared in almost all the leading magazines of the country. Also, he is frequently seen and heard on the T.V. and the A.I.R. He has contributed remarkably to an interdisciplinary approach to poetry, music and painting. He has wide-ranging interest like visiting places of cultural importance, listening to classical music, and photography. Currently he is engaged in independent writing, and is working on a book-writing project on "Modern Painting and Hindi Poetry", sponsored by the University Grants Commission.
Rajasthan has played a significant role in the growth of Indian art. Loke other fine arts, painting flourished widely in this region and established a distinct form called Rajasthani painting. Because of its charming, folk-artistic and feudalistic perspectives, many styles of painting developed here, and among them the Mewar, Bundi and Kishangarh schools acquired world wide acclaim.
It is a matter of regret that though many small and large publications on various styles and substyles have been brought out in India and foreign countries from time to time, but a comprehensive study of Rajasthani painting has not yet been published in the form of a book. This publication is an humble effort to bring out a concise study of the subject. I hope it will prove a great asset to scholars and connoisseurs of art and open new vistas for undertaking a more detailed study.
Rajasthani painting is an integral part of ancient Indian painting. From the point of view of artistic and geographical development, I have classified it in four sections- the Mewar school, the Marwar school, the Hadoti school and the Dhundar school. Among these four schools numerous styles and substyles have flourished. They require a great deal of research work.
I hope this publication will be an important link in the study of the cultural renaissance of Rajasthan and will help understand the comprehensive form and constitution of Rajasthani painting.
Finally, I should like to express my gratitude to all eminent scholars and friends with whose cooperation the present work was accomplished. I also owe an immense debt to Kumar Sangram Singh of the Jaipur City Museum, New Delhi, for the use of colour transparencies. I cannot adequately thank my worthy friends and well- wishers like Pasmashri Ramgopal Vijaivargiya, Kumar Sangram Singh, Dr. Prem Chand Goswami, Sarsvashri Vijai Kumar, Bhagirath Bhargava and Vijai Verma for the valuable suggestions and advice I received from them from time to time in our fruitful discussions. Shri Shakti Malik, Proprietor, Abhinav Publications, deserves my most profound thanks for his excellent production of this book.
Art is a unique example of expressing a cultured way of life. The experience of joy relating to the visible or invisible physical or astral body or sentiments beings in real form, appear before human beings in expressive forms. That expression is termed art.
The word kala is derived from Sanskrit. It has been used in Sanskrit literature in numerous interpretations, in which the 16th part of a principal object, “a part of time”, the expected intelligences in performing and task deserves special mention. Before the advent of Bharat Muni, Kala had been applied in almost all other acts of intelligence except poetry, and was a special world for such work of the intellect. Any useful business regarding life had ever been placed in the category of art.
The best example of the application of the word is clearly discernible in the Natyashastra by Bharat: “Na tajjanam na tachhilypam na vidyaa na saa kala”. The word kala frequently used by Bharat comes very near to fine art and architecture (shilpa) in near to a useful art. In India all such knowledge and vocations requiring the slightest intelligence are termed art, kala.
The western view of art seems similar. Art is related to old French art or Latin ars, whose meaning is to produce, to express or to adjust. Since the 13th century in England the world art has been used with the meaning intelligence. Since the 17th century the word has been associated with poetry, music, painting, iconography, architecture and the fine arts.
According to place, time and circumstance, the word art has been used in numerous contexts, but still it has never been deprived of expressing the of intelligent acts and thoughtful depiction.
From time to time intellectuals and connoisseurs have defined art in a manner which clearly echoes the meaning of fine art. To attain the exalted status of Shiv and express the beautiful form of truth, art is a powerful medium which according to the tastes and instincts of the artist has been conveyed from time to time for that eternal depiction. Hence through poetry, music, painting, iconography and through construction of splendid buildings, the artist from time to time made his special contribution to society. Among the above five arts paintings occupies a unique status.
“Chiyate iti chitram”, or the artist sorts out introvert and extrovert sentiments. Paintings containing sweetness, dynamism and liveliness could be termed beautiful painting. Owing to such beauty painting is accorded an exalted position. In ancients India Vishnudharmottara Puran makes the following reference; “Kalanaam pravarm chitran dharma kaamartha mokshdam, Mangalyam prathamam chetadgrihai yatra pratishatham”. The art of painting is considered a subtle means to pursue religion, pleasure and liberation. With this desire for happiness a painting is installed in the home. Such sentiments have motivated the decoration of houses with drawings. Frescoes from the Ajanta caves to the havelis of Shekhawati are a testimony to this view.
Lines and colours are the medium of painting. On any infrasurface the artist could express his feelings through the application of lines and colours. “On any surface, smooth or rough, drawing an attractive object with lines of watery, oily or wet or dry colours is termed painting. Such a depicted object is called a picture. Such infrasurface chiefly belongs to fresco, stone, wood, utensils and phalaks of baked clay, ivory, leather, cloth, palm leaves and paper. The artist possesses a distinct characteristic to depict heights, distance and nearness on a plane surface in which he turns his imaginative ideas into visible paintings through the arrangement of colours and lines according to his capability. Hence it is said: “Poetry is a speaking picture and a picture is mute poetry.”
Basis of Painting
To create paintings artists have selected different media in accordance with circumstances of times and space and among them are frequently available paintings in the form of frescoes and scripts.
The art of frescoed belongs to the instinct of primitive human beings. Ancient cave paintings testify to this view. The frescoes in the caves of Ajanta, Ellora, Allania (Rajasthan) have attracted worldwide attention of art connoisseurs. Frescoes have been drawn in temples, palaces and cenotaphs. After the 16th century palaces, temples, cenotaphs and havelis frequently appeared in temples dedicated to the Vallabha sect, houses and cenotaphs of feudal lords and palatial buildings(havelis) belonging to the capitalists of Shekhawati. Frescoes have ever been an ancient tradition in our country, and accordingly paintings have been produced with new techniques.
In India the tradition of script painting is very old. Like fresco painting it is still prevalent. From the commercial angle, drawing of padd and picchavai is done even today in Rajasthan. In regard to script paintings, a Tantric text of Buddism titled Aray Manjushri Kalp says drawing is to be done on clean white cloth which has borders on both sides. Silk cloth is prohibited for this purpose.
Script paintings are available in two forms as padd or picchavai scrolls. Padds are based on stories of folk gods while picchavais relate to Krishna-Lila. Kundalipat or scrolls have been made with less width and more length. The whole text has been painted in this scroll. A scroll of Bhagvad Puran decorated with 107 paintings of the Alwar school preserved in the museum at Alwar is the longest scroll in my knowledge.
In ancient days the tradition of writing poetry and making drawing on bhuri leaves or palm leaves was kept alive. This resulted in the abundance of pictorial texts preserved in many Jain homes and museums, and in this Rajasthan’s contribution deserves special mention.
The themes of the pictorial texts mostly relate to Jainism. Among them Kalpa- Sutra, Kalikacharya Kathanak and Neminath Charitra deserve special mentions. Texts compiled on palm leaves had a definite dimension and the reverse sides of different leaves had been written or painted on. Such leaves had been compiled as texts after making holes in the centre.
The invention of paper in the 12th century ushered in a new era in the compilation of pictorial text. Uttarayan Sutra of V.S. 1270 and Nyaya, Tatparya- Tikka compiled by Vachaspati Mishra in V.S.1270 and painted on paper are preserved in the Granth-Bhandar of Jaisalmer. Credit for encouraging this tradition goes to the Sagun- Bhakti movement and the Mughal rules of India.
The Sagun- Bhakti movement provided fresh inspiration for folklife. Lilas of Ram and Krishna turned into really through the media of poetry and painting. The tradition of painting texts, making poetry the basis, received a great impetus.
The coming of Mughal rule popularised the tradition of text painting greatly. Two artists, Sayid Ali and Abdul Samad, from Persia accompanied Humayun to India and painted the text Ameer Hamza. In the royal court of Akbar, a keen lover of painting, great artists like Bassavan, Dasvant, Sanval Dass, Farukhd Beg enjoyed imperial patronage. Besides Babar- Nama, Akbar-Nama, Rajjam- Nama and Tuti-Nama had also painted religious texts like Mahabhrat, Ramayan and Anwar-a- Suhali (Panchatantra).
After the advent of Akbar the tradition of manuscript painting gathered momentum. The Mughal school, the Rajasthani school and the Pahari school were important links in the art of painting texts based upon Ram Kavya, Krishna Kavya, Sufi Kavya, Riti Kavya, Barah- Masa, Ritu-Varnan, Rag-Ragini, which are still available.
Miniature art is an offshoot of manuscript paintings. On the basis of imagination or poetical sentiments, providing a heading or without a title, such miniatures are available in large numbers in numerous and private collection. Laghuchitra or miniature painting is the heritage of Rajasthani paintings.
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