Baramasa (Bara- twelve, masa-months), is a
term in Indian art and aesthetics used to denote the tradition of painting and
poetry which describes the romantic aspect of 12 seasons- through an intense
and artistic rendition of the phases of Sanyoga (union) and Viyoga
(separation). The convention of Baramasa paintings developed sumptuously in the
school of Pahari paintings- in the court art of Kangara, Chamba, Guler, Nurpur,
and Mandi between the 17th to 19th centuries, where the painters visualized the
Nayaka (romantic hero) as Krishna and the Nayika (heroine) as his beloved,
whose gestures, attires, and the backgrounds of the paintings conjured to the
viewer’s mind, the image of one of the twelve seasons.
watercolor on canvas painting by Kailash Raj is a representation of the month
of Magha or Shishir which coincides with the January-February months of the
Gregorian calendar. Magha is imagined by the artists of Kangra school as the
time of change, a time of separation which follows the love-filled frolicking
of the month of Kartika. Providing a complementing background to the scene in
this Baramasa painting are hilltops, marble buildings, people in groups, and
lush green trees with floral vines. On the trees we can observe bird pairs, a
symbol of romance and conjugal bliss in Indian culture, sitting slightly
distant from each other, becoming an extension of the anticipation of
separation felt by the couple that stands in the center of the painting.
blue-skinned and slightly taller than the heroine is dressed in a pleasing
yellow Jama (robe), clasped by a beautifully decorated waist cloth and a light
pink shawl which is draped around his upper body. On his pagadi he has
bejeweled ornaments, in his neck is a three-stringed pearl necklace and
ornaments of pearls and gold beautify his ear and hands. From his hand
gestures, we deduce that he is in a conversation with the exquisite fair-maiden
standing in front of him, probably breaking to her the news of his departure.
The Nayika wears a light blue Peshwaj (a medieval Indian robe-like garment for
royal women), and a luxuriant red shawl, embodying the love of her beloved
which enwraps her in its warm embrace. She is ornamented using refined jewelry
and Aalata (red tint) on her palms and soles. Hearing the news of the sudden
departure of the Nayaka, the heroine has her hand raised in an emotive gesture.
Though her heart wants to stop her lover, the gorgeous and intelligent maiden
knows that separation and reunion are fellow travelers for anyone who is stuck
by the arrows of Kamadeva- the Hindu god of Love. This quiet acceptance of the
unexpected turn of events can be witnessed on the faces of both the Nayaka and
the Nayika, which appear to be surprisingly calm.
poetry of Baramasa as shown in this watercolor painting of Magha is outlined by
an intricately decorated oval frame, adorned by lovely yellow and red flora and
the second row of floral vines painted on a dark base runs around the painting.
In the lowermost section of the painting, using his brush as his calligraphy
pen, Kailash Raj has inscribed “Magha Maha” (the month of Magha) in Devanagari
script, finishing the task of identification of this enchanting Baramasa
painting for us.
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