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Paintings > Hindu > The Begum of Oudh Flying a Kite
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The Begum of Oudh Flying a Kite

The Begum of Oudh Flying a Kite

The Begum of Oudh Flying a Kite

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Water Color On Paper

14.0" x 11.0"
Item Code:
HD01
Frame
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Viewed 9706 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
This elegantly rendered miniature, a reminiscent of medieval Oudh and the Subai Mughal art, represents a princess, in all likelihood the Begum of Oudh, engaged in the game of kite-flying, a popular pastime of the Mughal rulers of the decadent phase and the Nawabs of Oudh. The Begum, assisted by an attendant who is holding the reel and releasing, or winding back the thread as and when required, is in absolute command of her kite. Besides the large size, her kite has been further distinguished by its golden tail. The event has taken an altogether different turn from a sport of kite-flying to a battle of space and the Begum finds her majestic kingdom surrounded from all sides by attacking forces, which have seized almost the entire sky. Her maid is drawing her attention to one of the enemy planes, which has drawn quite close to her kingdom. The Begum, though quite alert and cautious, is not nervous or worried. She has her right hand ready to pull back and the left to make advances. Besides, she has, as stand by, a host of them, comprising of numerous kites and reels of thread, ready to replace it and re-enforce her position in the sky. There loom signs of anxiety on the face of the Nawab standing beside her on her right, though, as the reins are in the hands of his Begum, he is unable to avert the situation.

The scene is laid on a large size open palatial terrace running horizontally from one end of the canvas to its other. The maid clad in golden yellow defines the centre of the terrace. There stand towards her left the Begum, the Nawab and two male attendants. The terrace part, to her right, is covered by a number of colourful kites. There also lay two reels with green and red colour coated thread and a couple of bundles of extra thread without colour coat. Beyond the terrace, there stretches a township, all covered with Mughalia kind of Islamic architecture, octagonal, hexagonal, square and rectangular buildings, fluted domes of varied sizes, tall and short minarets, rectangular roofs with well defined parapet, kiosks and eaves, alcoves, arched doors and other Mughal elements. The town has great resemblance with the 19th century Lucknow, the capital of Oudh. The orange, spread all over the sky, is suggestive of the setting sun, the most usual hour for kite-flying. Both, the Nawab and the Begum, are clad in lavishly gold threaded garments and adorned with precious stones and jewelry, while their attendants are in moderate costume and ordinary ornaments. All the males are wearing Mughalia turbans of Jahangiri era, moderate jamas, short overcoats and tight pajamas.

The origin of the game of kite-flying, in India, is quite obscure. Man's fancy to fly in the sky could have inspired him to create an object, which he could send into the sky. The kite could have been the outcome of his efforts. As it involved a lot of cost, it could have remained initially confined only to men of means. But, in the course of time, it came down to common masses, who, as a precaution perhaps, attached it to one of India's minor festivals, known as Akshaya-tratiya. Now as a festive ritual even a common man could enjoy it but strictly as a rarer occasion occurring once a year and not overdoing it. For creating appropriate atmosphere, the artist has covered the entire framing space with variedly designed and coloured kite motifs. Soft colour tones, fine and delicate line-work, interplay of verticals and horizons, intelligently used gold and costume befitting a person's rank and status impart to the painting its distinction. The artist has attained similar distinction in rendering body complexion and each figure's individual features, although he has shown alike ingenuity in their rendering. The use of geometry in devising architectural forms is simply superb.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.


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