Like Ashvina Kartika is also the month of autumn’s freshness, unpolluted winds and clear sky with nights bathed in the translucent light of brilliant moon, though the days are not as bright as those in Ashvina. Unlike Ashvina when vegetation and flower-plants yet wrest to gain their form and shape, and ponds and reservoirs, to contain within their bounds, Kartika is the month when plants, trees and creepers begin growing and gaining their forms, and multi-hued flowers, blooming in full. Now ponds and reservoirs are brimful but well-contained and quiet, and ready for sportive birds and men. They are dedicated to lotuses during the days, and to lilies, during the nights.
This miniature brilliantly explores these dimensions of the month of Kartika. A bright full moon, which the legendary love-birds ‘chakva’ and ‘chakvi’ – male and female large orange brown ducks encircle, defines both, the night and the sky of Kartika. ‘Chakva’ and ‘chakvi’, believed to separate during the night, are together suggesting that a Kartika night does not separate lovers but rather unites them. The peacock perching on the top of the tower in full colours portrays the mood of the month. The earth is covered with beds of variously coloured flowers and multi-hued plants and trees. The pond in the foreground is covered with lotuses and boat is ready for enjoying a ride across waters. The prince, attired like Lord Vishnu, enjoying music in the pavilion below, and his Lakshmi or Shri-like gracious consort, in the terrace pavilion above, suggest return of normalcy in life. Kartika is the month when new crops are sown, and thus a month when the process of sustenance begins its course. Maybe, while conceiving the figures of the prince and princess the artist unconsciously modeled them as Vishnu and Shri, one representing sustenance, and other, fertility and riches, the primary means of sustenance. Significantly, not trays of food or jars of drinks, around him are laid the pots of flowers, the symbols of the month of Kartika and fertility and sustenance.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.