Category Archives: Golconda

Tree of life : images from Golconda textiles

           The art of Kalamkari  originated in Machilipatnam, Pallakolu and other places along the Coromandel coast during the 17th century.  It originated as a religious tapestry and later became a secular craft under Muslim rule. The kingdom of Golconda in the Deccan, India was a trading centre for diamonds, gems and textiles. The word Kalamkari or working with the pen evolved when the Golconda Sultans called the craftsmen as ‘kalamkars‘. ‘Kalamkari‘ thus literally means, art work done using a pen. The craft continues to this day with many families devoted to this art. Natural substances from plants, trees and seeds are used in the art and called painted using resist and mordant technique. Depicted are some images using this technique, of the tree of life, a unique and universal concept.
    The tree of life is a concept mainly from mythology, a sacred belief connecting all forms of creation. it is depicted in various cultures and traditions of the world. The tree of life is thought of as related to the eternal, a destroyer of sorrow, health, fertility, wisdom and calmness. In the Hindu faith it is the wish fulfilling Kalpavriksha which grants every wish. In Christianity the tree is the source of eternal life. The tree of life is the tree of immortality in Islamic faith. The concept spans across cultures. It is asymbol of connectivity, having roots with the soil; the leaves and branches reaching to the sky, receiving the sun and air. The tree of life represents continuity as it grows from a seed and creates a fruit with seeds, which again gives birth to the new. The tree of life is a symbol of rebirth, the leaves fall in autumn or hibernate in winter and in spring the new leaves appear like being born again.
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Tree of life,  Tent Hanging or Curtain, late 17th century, Golconda, LACMA, U. S. A.
      Charles Darwin proposed a tree of life which is symbolic of the source of all living things. In Chinese mythology,a dragon and phoenix are depicted in the tree of life. The dragon represents immortality. The Bodhi tree is the wisdom tree under which Siddharta Gautama attained enlightenment and became the Buddha. This tree is seen as one where once can seek refuge from worldly desires. the Celtic tree symbolises the forces of nature joining together to maintain balance in the universe. Many animals are are also seen in the tree of life depictions. Birds too are seen on the branches. sometimes the underworld is shown with a water-monster. All forms of life are connected and humans should live in harmony with the world. Everyone has a right to exist and grow as we are children of the Universe.

                The block-printed and dyed textile from the Coromandel coast depicted below consists of a tree of life within ovoid medallions, flanked by cobras and peacocks, the border is of a continuous floral garland. Originally this technique of painted resist and mordant happened under the rule of the Golconda kingdom (1512-1687). However the practice continued in the following centuries with ups and downs, but continues to this day though the designs have changed over the years. The technique was called Kalamkari which is still prevalent.

A PALAMPORE COROMANDEL COAST, SOUTH INDIA, SECOND QUARTER 19TH CENTURY The block-printed and dyed decoration consisting of a central tree within ovoid medallions, flanked by cobras and peacocks, the border a continuous floral garland, small inventory or shipping stamp to a corner 116 ½ x 91in. (296 x 231cm.

Palampore, painted resist and mordant, dyed textile, Coromandel coast, 19th century.

Image sourced from Christie’s.com

       Palampores were a regular feature of the 18th-century chintz trade to Europe, where they were used as wall hangings and bed-covers and table-cloths. The embroidered palampore below was chain stitched in silk on cotton to create a painted effect. The craftsmen have worked out white silk stitches within the flowers to simulate the tiny white  patterns that appear on painted textiles. Instead of shown as emerging from the usual hilly mound, this tree grows out of an interpretation of a Chinese scholar’s rock, highlighting the overlapping of Chinese, Indian, and European motifs in 18th-century exotic textiles from the East.

* Palampore Cotton embroidered with silk mid-18th century (Coromandel Coast), for the European market Embroidered Palampore was chain stitched in silk on cotton to imitate a painted palampore with remarkable precision. The embroiderers even used white silk stitches within the flowers to simulate the tiny white reserve patterns that appear on painted examples.

Palampore, embroidered textile, cotton with silk, Coromandel coast, mid-18th century, Met Museum, U S A

        Palmapores depicting the tree of life show a central flower-and-fruit-bearing serpentine tree emerging from a hillock with stylized peaks or rocks. In addition to those produced for the Dutch and English markets, a class of smaller palampores was made expressly for the intra-Asian trade. This painted version depicted below was originally sourced to Sri Lanka, maybe produced for the European communities in Batavia and Colombo.


Palampore, Cotton (painted resist and mordant, dyed), India (Coromandel Coast), for the Sri Lankan market

Palampore, painted resist and mordant, dyed textile, Coromandel coast, early 18th century, Met Museum, U S A.
The textile piece below is a tree of life depicting the mound, peacocks and flowering tree. The border is an ornate double floral scroll. Done using the Kalamkari technique it is an exquisite work.

Olive-Multicolor Cotton Hand Painted Kalamkari Wall Hanging 46in x 32.5in
Tree of life, Kalamkari hanging, 21st century.

Image : Jaypore.com



References :

  • wikipedia.org
  • wootandhammy.com
  • spiritualray.com
  • old-earth.com
Posted by:
Soma Ghosh
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Golconda in art : images of royalty

          Golconda was one among the Sultanates of the Deccan during 16th -18th century India. Known all over the world for its fortifications, big arsenals, ruined palaces, gardens, fountains, pools, mosques and terraces and leader in diamond trade with expertise in cutting an polishing the stone; as it was available in the mines in the bed of the river Krishna. The hill fortress at a height of 400 feet above the ground, housed the king’s soldiers, harem, treasury, courtiers and followers. The area within the fort also housed a population which grew too large and a new capital for the kingdom was made at Hyderabad by Sultan Mohammad Quli in 1591. The kingdom extended over the Southern peninsula starting from the Godavari river upto the Cape Comorin and up to the Indian Ocean in the east.

   The art of the Golconda kingdom and some of it’s representations are elucidated for an idea of the art of the Golconda and Hyderabad school of Deccani painting. Deccani painting evolved when the Deccan Sultanates namely, Ahmadnagar, Bijapur and Golconda started producing paintings of great quality. There was a strong Persian influence on their art. However their art was distinct and has earned itself a unique place in the history of Indian painting. Deccani paintings were not dated or inscribed with the name of the painter as the Mughal ones.

  Coming to the subject at hand, namely Golconda, it can be said that the Persianate character of their painting can be attributed to the fact that the first king, Sultan Quli had migrated from Persia to Bidar in 1478. The Qutub Shahis maintained close ties; which included matrimony with the Safavids and patronised poets and painters from Persia.The typicality of Golconda paintings lies in its opulence and vitality which has an Indian flavour of richness.

File:Abdullah Qutb Shah.jpg

Portrait, Sultan Abdullah Qutub Shah of Golconda.

By Unknown – , CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24570593

      The Kulliyat-e- Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah , a collection of the Sultan’s poetry contains many illustrations which depict the Golconda school of painting. Iridiscent colours including bluish-purple, salmon-red,pricked gold surfaces are typically Golconda style.There are other astonishing and splendorous  examples too.

File:Illuminated Manuscript of the History of the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda LACMA M.89.159.4 (2 of 5).jpg

lIluminated Manuscript of the History of the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda LACMA , 17th century.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AIlluminated_Manuscript_of_the_History_of_the_Qutb_Shahi_Sultans_of_Golconda_LACMA_M.89.159.4_(2_of_5).jpg

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Illuminated Manuscript of the History of the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda LACMA M.89.159.4 (3 of 5).jpg

lIluminated Manuscript of the History of the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda LACMA , 17th century.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AIlluminated_Manuscript_of_the_History_of_the_Qutb_Shahi_Sultans_of_Golconda_LACMA_M.89.159.4_(3_of_5).jpgSee page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Illuminated Manuscript of the History of the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda LACMA M.89.159.4 (1 of 5).jpg

Illuminated Manuscript of the History of the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda,LACMA , 17th century.

By Image: http:/collections.lacma.org/sites/default/files/remote_images/piction/ma-2794559-O3.jpgGallery: http://collections.lacma.org/node/177837, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27254257

 

After the death of Sultan Abdullah Qutub Shah. Abul Hasan ascended the throne. He was the son-in-law, ie. husband of the second daughter of Abdullah Qutub Shah. He was a follower of Shah Raju, and used to live in Gulbarga. Both of them came to Hyderabad. Shah Raju was a mystic and influenced the new court. Madanna, a Hindu became prime -minister and farmans (royal diktats) began to be issued in both Telugu and Persian. Urdu, Telugu and Arabic literature was patronised. There were influences in art too. Abul Hasan was nicknamed Tana Shah meaning king of taste. Many paintings of the Golconda school can be attributed to his time. The school was kept alive even after the defeat of Tana Shah in 1687 to Aurangzeb.The Mughal governors and local aristocracy engaged painters to work for them.

*Portrait of Navab General Firoz Khan, c.1670.jpg
Firuz Khan,nobleman, 17th century, Golconda.

By Unknown – http://www.artsmia.org/viewer/detail.php?v=12&id=2734, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19044933

Visit of Sufi singer Shir Muhammad to Abul Hasan Qutb Shah, later Golconda school,1720.

By Govardhan II – http://expositions.bnf.fr/inde/grand/exp_031.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19082077

Akbar Shah, son of the Deccani saint Shah Raju (6124544567).jpg

Akbar Shah, Son of saint Shah Raju,17th century.

By thesandiegomuseumofartcollection – Flickr, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38309515

Lady with the Myna Bird.jpg

Lady with a myna bird, early 17th century,Golconda.

By Deccan School – http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/features/12-11/features2319.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21077969

 

 

 

 

References :

  • Khan, Nazirul-Islam/Guide to Golconda, Bombay : Thacker & Company Limited,1941.
  • Zebrowski, Mark/Deccani painting, New Delhi : Roli Books,1983.

 

 

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Soma Ghosh

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