While the Phads related to Dev Narayana portrayed some aspect of Dev Narayana’s stately authority, those related to Pabuji, often represented some aspect of an act of his great sacrifice; however, sometimes a Phad devoted to Pabuji also portrayed him as seated in his court with his four trusted warriors like Dev Narayana and his four cousins. In such Phads Pabuji’s favourite black mare posted outside, as in this Phad, determines the portrayed figure’s identity. Black mare is believed to be Pabuji’s mother, a nymph he was mythically born of, in her new birth. As the tradition goes, Pabuji was born of a celestial nymph who had foretold that she would be re-born after twelve years as a black mare and would always be with her son and protect him. Such identity feature apart, the Phad does not represent other usual features of a Phad devoted to Pabuji. In all such Phads Pabuji and Dev Narayana are often portrayed as enshrining deities, and some aspects of Rajasthan’s life are knitted around them.
Pabuji, the main theme of this Phad, a semi-historical figure, a legend for masses immersed in great divinity and the subject-matter of research for historians, appears to have been born sometimes in fourteenth century or sixteenth, as some scholars consider. Born as one of the four children of Dhadal Rathor of the village Kolu, three other being a brother and two sisters, Pabuji belonged to Rathor line of Rajputs. During his early days he fought many battles mainly against Khichis and evicted them of the Rathor land, and another, against Mirza Khan Patan and protected the honour of womenfolk and the lives of cows he was went upon destroying. The marriage of his loved niece Kelam put his real prowess at trial. While other guests gave her various gift, Pabuji promised her to give a herd of a rare breed of camels from Lanka. Soon after her marriage he set out to obtain them and faced many trials, though finally succeeding in bringing a huge herd of camels for his niece. On his way he also fell in love with the princess of Sindh and married her.
The central part of the Phad represents a groom riding a black horse, perhaps Pabuji himself when marrying the princess of Sindh. The depiction relates to ‘torana’ ceremony so important a rite in Rajasthani style of marriage. The horse-rider bridegroom leaps to the ‘torana’ and strikes it with his sword. There are guests on horses comprising marriage procession and umbrella and chowri bearers on foot. In upper balconies are drummers and trumpeters, and in the lower, ladies with pots on heads and lamps in hands. Some royal ladies with attendants house the upper pavilions on the inner side, and royal personages with a chowri-bearer, those on the lower side. Proper marriage rites, the groom holding the bride’s hand under a specially raised ‘mandapa’ and a ‘Purna-ghata’ placed on the ritual wooden pole, a priest reciting holy hymns, a ‘devi’ form with trident attending the ceremony … have been painted in the pavilion on the bottom on the extreme right. On the left to the centre is seated in an arched pavilion Pabuji with a flower in hand and his four trusted warriors facing him. The Phad does not have such divine presence as a Phad usually has. On the extreme left on top there is a form of child Krishna with royal couple making offerings. On the bottom, on the left of the black mare of Pabuji, there are two trident holding females, perhaps ‘Yoginis’ or some minor goddesses.
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.