Category Archives: Mural paintings of India

Panchatantra in art : some depictions

           Panchatantra literally means five treatises. It is an ancient collection of animal fables. The animals have human virtues and vices. The original text is believed to be in Sanskrit prose and verse.  It has been dated to 300 B.C  and attributed to Vishnusharma, an octagenarian Brahmin who is mentioned in the prelude of the text of many translations that are available. Some sources mention Vasubhaga as the creator of the inter-related animal fables. The illustrations depicted below show some fables from the sub books of the Panchatantra.

Panchatantra manuscript, The Birds Try to Beat Down the Ocean, watercolor on paper, Rajasthan, India, 18th century. 

By Artist/maker unknown, India (18th century) – Philadelphia Museum of Arts: http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/results.html?searchTxt=panchatantra, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61455723

        The Panchatantra has been widely translated into as many as 50 languages across the world. Most European versions of the text are derivative works of the 12th-century Hebrew version of Panchatantra by Rabbi Joel. In 550 A.D it was translated into Pahlavi by Burzoa. In 750 A.D an Arabic translation Kalila wa Dimnah was done by Abdullah Ibn-al-Muqaffa. In the 12th century a Persian translation by Rudaki was titled  Kalileh-o-Damneh. In the 15th century Anwar-i-suhayli in Persian by Kashefi was done which was known as The fables of Bidpai in European languages. It was translated into English by Arthur Ryder in 1925.

18th century Panchatantra manuscript page, The Elephants Trample the Hares picture.jpg

Panchatantra manuscript, The elephants trample the hares, watercolour,18th century.

By Artist/maker unknown, India (18th century) – Philadelphia Museum of Arts: http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/results.html?searchTxt=panchatantra, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61455729

     The Panchatantra is for the learning of niti or appropriate moral conduct by three ignorant princes. The Panchatantra consists of five parts, each having a main story. Each story contains sub-stories. The titles of the sub-books are Mitrabheda, Mitralabha, Kakolukiyam, Labdhapranasam and Apariksitakaram.

Mitrabheda is the story of Damanaka who is an unemployed minister in a lion’s kingdom. Along with Karataka he conspires and breaks up aalaiances of the king. The book has over 30 fables.  Mitralabha is a collection of the adventures of a crow, a mouse, a turtle and a deer. This book focuses on the importance of friendship and alliances. It has ten fables.

8th century Panchatantra reliefs at Mallikarjuna temple, Pattadakal Hindu monuments Karnataka.jpg

Panchatantra reliefs, Mallikarjuna temple, Pattadakal, Karnataka, 8th century.

By Ms Sarah Welch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

     Kakolukiyam is  a treatise which focuses on war and peace. It points out that a battle of wits is more powerful than a battle of swords. it has 18 fables. Labdhapranasam is a compilation of ancient fables full of moral teachings. It is a guide on what not to do. It has 13 fables in the translation by Arthur Ryder.  Apariksitakaram  is acollection of moral filled fables. The characters are human beings. It has 12 fables in the translation into English by Arthur  Ryder. The stories are titled The loss of friends, The lion and the carpenter, The unteachable monkey, The monkey and the crocodile among many others in the five sub books.

8th century Panchatantra legends panels at Virupaksha Shaivism temple, Pattadakal Hindu monuments Karnataka 2.jpg

Panchatantra panel, Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal, Karnataka, 8th century .

By Ms Sarah Welch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 ‘Panchatantra’ relief ,Mendut temple, Central Java, Indonesia.

By Original uploader was BesselDekker at nl.wikipedia – Transferred from nl.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Shreevatsa using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5836212

A page from the 18th-century Panchatantra manuscript, Rajasthan India.jpg

Panchatantra manuscript, Rajasthan,18th century.

By Artist/maker unknown, India (18th century) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

References:

 

 

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

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Art of Kerala : magnificent murals

     Kerala is at the southern end of the Indian peninsula.  It is a part of the Western Ghats of India. Verdant with copious rainfall it is home to many trees, spice plantations, an amazing amount of flora and its well-known backwaters in the south.  Kerala, often referred to as God’s own country has a very interesting history of mural making. Believed to have started in the 7th and 8th century; majorly influenced by Pallava art. The oldest Kerala style murals have been found at a rock cut temple of Thirunandikara, now in Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu which was probably made in the 9th or 10th century. There is some doubt about mural making in between 10th and 13th centuries but from the 14th to 16th century many were made and continue to this day after continuing  revival efforts.

    The content of the murals are mostly religious and mythological depicting legends. Flora and  fauna also figure in the wall paintings. Magnificent murals are found all over Kerala. Murals have been made at palaces, termples, churches and also some other spaces. The Kanthaloor temple, Thiruvananthapuram, The Mattancherry palace, Cochin, Vaddakumnathan temple, Thrissur to mention a few. Murals have been made at churches at Alappuzha, Thiruvella, Angamly and Akkaparambu. Some temple murals   are highlighted here.  Also some depictions from Kalyana bhavanam or marriage halls.

Ananthasayanam, mural, 21st century, by artist Sastrasarman Prasad, Sree Karthyayani Temple,  Kunnamkulam, Thrissur,Kerala.

By Mural paintings (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

    The Mattancheri palace was built by the Portuguese in 1555. It is commonly called Dutch palace since 1663 after the Dutch made additions and renovations to it. there are shrines in the palace compound. Next to the palace is the Cochin synagogue built in 1567. On the west of the palace are murals painted in 1000 square feet in four chambers and two low ceilinged rooms from the 17th to mid 19th century. The depictions are from the Ramayana and some Krishna-lila scenes. The eastern chambers have Lord Shiva and Vishnu depictions. The scenes are dominated by browns,golds and red browns with touches of jewel-like green. There are many paintings which include Lord Vishnu as Anantasayana, Lord Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan, Lord Shiva with Parvati on Kailasa, Krishna with gopis, marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Also Lord Shiva with Vishnu as Mohini.

File:Mattancherry Palace DSC 0899.JPGMattancherri Palace, Cochin,Kerala.

By Ranjith Siji (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Mattancherry palace murals.jpg

Mural, Lord Shiva with Mohini, Parvati looking away in anger, Mattancheri palace, Cochin, Kerala.

By Mark Hills (originally posted to Flickr as mattancherry palace) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

    The Padmanabhapuram palace is located 40 kilometres from thiruvananthapuram, now in Tamil Nadu though historically a part of Kerala. This palace was a royal site, a centre for contact between the ruler Maharaja with visitors from abroad and for discussions with his advisors.  The murals at the palace are from the 17th and 18th centuries mostly found on the upper floor of the 4 storey tower, in a sacred bedroom devoted to Lord Vishnu. Deities and tales from the Puranas  are depicted on all four walls. The colours are light with uses of pastel shades and white as well. an are of 900 square feet is painted with murals. Lord Shiva resting with Parvati, Lord Krishna playing on his flute with gopis around him; are also depicted in the palace.

     The Krishnapuram palace, built in the early 18th century at Kayamkulam is located north of Kollam (Quilon) and has a mural of Gajendramoksham of 154 square feet made around 1725-40.  There is also an image of Ganesha. At some places European influences can be seen.

Krishnapuram palace1.jpg

Krishnapuram palace, Kayamkulam, Kerala.

By Appusviews at Malayalam Wikipedia – Transferred from ml.wikipedia to Commons by Sreejithk2000 using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12762847

Gajendramoksham, Krishnapuram Palace, Kayamkulam, Alappuzha, Kerala. 

By Essarpee1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32662595

    The magnificent art of mural painting is well depicted in many temples across Kerala. The Vaddakumnathan temple at Thrissur, the Chemmanthita Siva temple, Thrissur, Kudamaloor, Kannur, Thodeekkalam, Kannur, the Sreevallabha temple, Thiruvalla the Mahadeva Siva temple, Ettamanoor, Pallikarup Mahavishnu temple, Mannarkad, Palakkad, the Padmanabhaswamy temple at Thiruvananthapuram, Guruvayur temple, Guruvayur, Vaikom temple, Kottayam,  among many others.

           The Sreevallabha temple at Thiruvalla, Pathanamthitta is dedicated to Lord Sree Vallabham  and is very old. It is built on the banks of the Manimala river. The temple has fine stone-wooden carvings and grand architecture. There are  superb murals paintings in the  sreekovil (sanctum sanctorum) of Matsya avatara, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Sudarshana, Parashurama, Venugopala, Lord Krishna, Kaaliyamardana episode,  Balarama, Dakshinamurty, Purusha sukta, Lord Rama, Lakshmi, Ganapati,  Kalki avatara.

Sree Vallaba Temple 1.JPG

Sreevallabha Temple, Thiruvalla, Kerala.

By Ssriram mt – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42076069

Garuda picture sreevallabha temple.JPG

Garuda, mural, Sreevallabha temple, Thiruvalla, Kerala.

By Dvellakat (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

   The Vaikom Mahadeva temple in Kottayam is an elliptical plan temple founded in the 11th or 12th century. The murals here are dedicated to the story of Lord Shiva. The paintings are bright and the colours are intense. At the Mahadeva temple at Ettamanur in Kottayam is an awesome panel of Lord Shiva as Nataraja  on the inner wall of the gopura, 12 feet by 8 feet in size from the 16th century ! Lord Shiva is seen trampling the demon apasmara.

Image result for kerala murals images

Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, Kottayam, Kerala.

By Sivavkm (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       The Thodeekkalam Shiva temple at Kannur is believed to be 2000 years old ! It is having much admired murals which depict stories of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Also the rural life from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The two-storied temple associated with the Pazhassi royal family of Kottayam, has 150 murals  painted over an area of 700 square feet  on the walls of the garba-griha or sanctum sanctorum. The splendorous murals are painted with naturally sourced pigments and red, saffron-yellow, green, white, blue, black, golden yellow hues dominate the panels.

Mural painting of Ganesha, Thodeekkalam Shiva temple, Kannur,Kerala.

By Vijayakumarblathur – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48710571

Thodeekalam_mural_paintings

Mural painting, Thodeekkalam Shiva temple, Kannur, Kerala. 

By Vijayakumarblathur (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       The Pundareekapuram temple near Thalayolaparambhu in Kottayam has Lord Vishnu as the main deity on his Garuda along with Bhoodevi. The murals of this temple were made most probably in later 18th century. The themes include Mahisasuramardini, Krishnalila, Sri Rama-pattabhishekam among others. The murals are bold and striking with accurate lines. Many images of Nagaraja along with Garuda are found in the temple.

 

 

Pundareekapuram temple.jpg

Pundareekapuram temple, Kottayam, Kerala.

By Sivavkm – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16060370

Pundareekapuram temple  mural, Kottayam, Kerala.

By Sivavkm – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16060393

Kalyana-bhavanam mural painting, Achikanam, Kasargod, Kerala.

By Vijayanrajapuram – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53875551

File:Murals in Palakkad Junction railway station.jpg

 Mural at Olavakhode Railway Station, Palakkad, Kerala.

 By Prof tpms (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

   

References :

  • Temple arts of Kerala/Bernier,Ronald M, New Delhi : S Chand & Company Ltd, 1982.
  •  Murals of Kerala/Shashibhushan,M.G, Tvm : Department of Public Relations. (article)
  • connectingmalayali.com
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

 

©author

 

 

 

 

Mughal miniatures : some fauna depictions

   Mughal miniatures are much admired across the art and history world and the artworks have captured the Mughal times and the opulence related with the Emperors and their reign.The Mughals ruled in India 1526 – 1857 A.D. The Mughals were patrons of art and maintained ateliers of their own. They had their own court artists.  The Mughal atelier included artists like  Abu’l Hasan, Farrukh Beg,Manohar, Govardhan, Inayat, Muhammad Nadir among others. Mansur was a 17th century painter under Emperors Akbar and Jahangir. He excelled in painting flora and fauna. Animal subjects were his passion and he earned the title of ustad or master during Akbar’s reign. He used to travel with the emperor recording natural subjects. He earned the title Nãdir-al-’Asr, someone who is unparalelled in his time.

Nilgai (blue bull).jpg

Nilgai, by Ustad Mansur, from the Shah Jahan Album, Mughal painting, 17th century.

Ustad Mansur [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

File:DodoMansur.jpg

Dodo bird along with others, Mughal painting, 1625.

Ustad Mansur [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Ustad Mansur Truthahn.jpeg

Turkey-cock, Mughal painting, 17th century.

By Ustad Mansur, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1938648

Siberian Crane.jpg

Siberian crane, Mughal painting, Indian Museum, Kolkata.

By Ustad Mansur – Indian Museum, Kolkata, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30561300

Ustad Mansur Chameleon.jpg

Indian chameleon, Mughal painting, 17th century,British Royal Collection,U.K.

By Ustad Mansur – The Royal Collection, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29182473

Spotted Forktail, by Abu’l Hasan, Shah Jahan Album,1610–15 A.D. Metropolitan Museum, New-York.

By Abu’l Hasan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

        Ustad Mansur  was a colourist for pages in the  Akbarnama. His animal paintings earned him a place in history of painting. He also drew some birds and animals from his own imagination or world of fantasy. He used floral borders around his compositions. His attention to detail make his works mesmerising to the viewer. There were copies of his works made. His portrayal of the dodo bird (now extinct) is an important source for zoologists. He remains the most celebrated; he mixed objective naturalism with artistic creativity and depiction.

        Ustad Mansur made portraits in his early career. He painted birds like the dipper described by Emperor Jahangir in his memoirs Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri. His last painting was that of a zebra which had been gifted to emperor Jahangir. It is now in the V & A Museum, U.K. Jahangir was a keen naturalist like Emperor Babur. Emperor Jahangir has left amazing descriptions of fauna. As a prince Jahangir had his own studio in the 1580s with Aqa Riza, a  painter from Herat, as his chief artist.  He  made  Ustad Mansur copy all the flowers in the valley of Kashmir during his visit. During Emperor Akbar’s reign Mishkin was a talented artist. He has painted Laila-Majnun surrounded by many animals. Artists Abu’l Hasan, son of Aqa Riza and Manohar Das or Manohar, son of Basawaan during the reign of Emperor Jahangir were also good at making paintings of fauna.

Squirrels in a Plane Tree, by Abu’l Hasan, 1610, India Office Library and Records, London,U.K.

By Abu’l Hasan and Mansur (scan from book) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

"Akbar Hunting with Cheetahs", Folio from an Akbarnama MET sf30-95-174-8a.jpg

Akbar Hunting with Cheetahs, By Manohar Das, from an Akbarnama, Metropolitan Museum, New-York.

By Creator:Manohar [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

"Black Buck", Folio from the Shah Jahan Album MET DP246551.jpg

Black buck, by Manohar, folio from a Shah Jahan album, early 17th century, Metropolitan Museum, New York.

By Creator:Manohar [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Mansur-8.png

Peacocks, illustration, Mughal painting,17th century.

By Ustad Mansur, Nãdir-al-’Asr (Ustad Mansur, Nãdir-al-’Asr) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Two Cranes - Ustad Mansur

Two cranes, Mughal painting, 17th century.

http://www.wikiart.org/en/ustad-mansur/two-cranes

 

Zebra, 1621 - Ustad Mansur

Zebra, by Ustad Mansur, Mughal painting, 17th century.

Source :www.wikiart.org/en/ustad-mansur/zebra-1621

References :

  • Court paintings of India/Pal, Pratapadiya, New Delhi : Kumar Gallery,1983.
  • Animals and birds in Mughal miniature paintings/Khanam, Zaheda,New Delhi : D. K Print world, 2009.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

 

©author

 

The Barahmasa : depictions in Indian miniature paintings

         The twelve months or Barahmasa correspond to the length of a year which is a span of time. During these months various seasons happen in nature. Human activities change and so does the scenery with its various elements, the sky, birds, water bodies, animals and vegetation. The various months are Chaitra (March-April). starting in the spring season.  The following months are Vaishakha(April-May), Jyestha (May-June, Asadha (June-July), Sravana(July-August), Bhadon (August-September), Ashvin (September-October), Kartikka (October-November), Margasirsa (November-December), Pausa(December-January), Magha ( January-February) and Phalguna (February-March).

    The folio from a Hindu calendar, Vikram Samvat is seen below. The left column shows the ten avatars of Vishnu, the center-right column shows the twelve signs of the Hindu zodiac. Top middle panel shows Ganesha with two consorts. The second panel shows Krishna with two consorts. The seasons are well recognized and has been depicted in all forms in India’s art and literature and it’s overall cultural landscape. Poetry, painting and sculpture have awesome portrayals and descriptions of the seasons. Seasons in India are part of her ethos and life. Festivals are also celebrated in connections with seasons.  The Barahmasa is a genre of poetry, a concept to which there have been many contributions. Indian paintings have been closely associated with literature. Many important literary works right from ancient times have been depicted  in art and sculpture. The Jataka tales have been depicted in many Buddhist sites of India.

  .     

Hindu calendar/almanac corresponding to Western years 1871-1872, Rajasthan. 

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

              Coming to the subject at hand, this theme has been depicted mostly from late medieval period.  An Indian treatise Chitrasutra composed by Vishnudhrmaottara, sometime during the interval of the Kushana and Gupta times has a set of guidelines on how the seasons are to be depicted in art. Painters have followed the guidelines in ancient and medieval India.

   The Barahmasa was popular in Hindi literature during 13th to 16th centuries and also was a part of Sufi poetry. However, Barahmasa in miniature paintings were mostly done or executed in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The paintings had writings in Devanagari on top or behind the painting. Many royal courts had their own painters and ateliers. This theme has not found much favour with Mughal miniatures and Deccani painting though nature by itself has been a subject of composition in these schools. Many animal and bird portraitures have been made in the Mughal paintings; the Deccani schools depict clouds, ponds and lotuses.

        The Rajasthani painting evolved in the courts of Rajputana. They were done in the mniature format. and also on walls of havelis(mansions), palaces and inner chambers of forts. The pigmetns were derived from minerals,plants, conches and precious stones too ! Gold and silver were used at places. The paintings depicted avrious themes from the social viewpoint, also stories form the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. Nature was depicted too’; these paintings were representative of a rulers legacy. The Rajasthani school has many sub-schools. like Jaipur,Bikaner, Bundi, Kota, Mewar. Alwar and Jodhpur. The style of painting has been influenced by Persian, European, Mughal and Chinese art of painting.The paintings are rich, mostly due to the arid desert landscape, dry hills and less vegetation.

     The Barahmasa theme has been depicted in Chamba, Garhwal, Guler, Kangra, Mandi and Nurpur schools from among the Pahari school. The Pahari schools developed in the hilly regions of North India during 17th to 19th century. From Jammu to Almora and Garhwal,Himachal Pradesh. the range is wide,varied and very interesting. Basohli school is from Jammu which is known for its bold colours. Kangra is famous for its Radha-Krishna depictions and its lyrical quality.; being greatly inspired by Jayadeva’s Geeta-govinda. Central India has the Malwa, Datia and Bundelkhand schools.

     The Chitrasutra as already mentioned has given guidelines for the seasons and they seem to be followed by artists across India. Summer is indicated by the sun in the sky, spring with its seasonal trees in bloom, humming bees,cuckoo depictions and men and women going around happily ! Further, summer depicts fatigue experienced by men,animals, dry pools,birds hiding in trees,lions and  tigers resting in their mountainous hideouts. The rainy season has its dark, laden clouds and streaks of lightning in the sky. Autumn has trees full of fruits,corn ripe in the fields, pools full of swans and lotuses. The winter has its dew and fog, the earth is a bit bare and misty. Crows and elephants are joyous.  There is snowfall in some places.

    Depicted below are some Barahmasa paintings from different schools. The month of Chaitra is depicted with the seasonal trees in bloom and men and women joyous and in conversation. Birds and sarus cranes are seen in the background and where the lotuses are abounding in the pool nearby.

1 The month of Chaitra. Barahmasa series. March-April. 1675-1700 (circa) Bundi. British Museum.jpg

Chaitra (March-April), Barahmasa, Bundi, 1675-1700 A.D, British Museum,U.K.

By Unknown – British Museum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20762741

       The month of Jyeshtha is hot and humid, people are seen using hand fans reclining under shades and birds are hiding in the trees. The sun is scorching the earth and there is bright light around. Tree ahve shed their leaves due to the heat. The animals are resting in shade or retreating to the forest.

2 Jestha (may-june). Barahmasa series. Jaipur, ca. 1800, British Museum.jpg

Jyestha (May-June). Barahmasa, Jaipur, 1800s, British Museum,U.K.

By Unknown – British Museum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20762750

 Jyestha (May-June), Folio from a Barahmasa,  Uniara, Rajasthan, 1775, LACMA- public domain image.

      The Asadha month is the pre-monsoon month and clouds are seen to start arriving in the sky with sporadic rain. In Shravan the sky gets laden with rain bearing clouds and the opens with lightning and thunder ! Peacocks are happiest during this time and dance to full glory with their splendorous tail spread out. Nature all around is green and verdant. Pangs of separation are felt more strongly in this season. Forlorn heroines are eager to meet their beloved !

 Ashadha (June-July), Folio from a Barahmasa, Kota, 1700-1725.

LACMA- public domain image.

File:4 Sravana (july-august). Barahmasa series. Jaipur, ca. 1800, British Museum.jpg

Sravana (July-August), Barahmasa, Jaipur, 1800, British  Museum,U.K.

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

Bhadon (August-September), Folio from a Barahmasa ,LACMA ,U.S.A

http://www.flickr.com/photos/50398299@N08/16260026998/ image by Ashley Van Haeften

          The painting below shows a forlorn heroine trying to go out to meet her beloved and her sakhi or friend refraining her as the sky is full of menacing clouds during the month of Bhadon.

'Virahini' (Lovesick Heroine), India, c. 1740, Honolulu Museum of Art, 10689.1.JPG

Virahini (lovesick heroine), Bhadon (August-September)1740, Barahmasa,  Honolulu Museum of Art,U.S.A.

By Unknown – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29363548

Bhadon (August-September), Barahmasa, Malwa, 1640-1650, LACMA- public domain image.
Bhadon (August-September). Barahmasa, Jaipur, 1800, British Museum,U.K.
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

6 Asoja (september-october). Barahmasa series. Jaipur, ca. 1800, British Museum.jpg

 Ashvin or Asoja, (September-October). Barahmasa, Jaipur, 1800, British Museum,U.K.
 See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
 7 Kartikka (october-november). Barahmasa series. Jaipur, ca. 1800, British Museum.jpg
  Kartikka,(October-November). Barahmasa, Jaipur, 1800, British Museum,U.K.
 See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
8 Margasira (november-december) Barahmasa series..jpg
Margasirsa or Agrahayana,(November-December) Barahmasa series,1800, Rajasthan. British Museum, London,U.K.
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
         The month of Pausa is depicted with people warming their hands over fire and  sleeping under blankets to face the biting cold. Shawls are worn around the head and shoulders. People seem to be suffering from fever and are making visits to the vaidya or doctor for treatment.
Pausa, (December-January). Barahmasa, Jaipur, 1800, British Museum,U.K.
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
References :
  • Barahmasa/Dwivedi,V.P, Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,1980.
  • wikipedia.org
Posted by

Soma Ghosh

©author

Lord Mahavira : painted images

      Lord Mahavira is the 24th tirthankara in Jainism. He lived in 6th century B.C and was born in Kundagrama in present day Bihar in India. He  was born to King Siddhartha and his queen Trishala of the Ishkvaku dynasty. In his childhood he was called Vardhamana. He was given the name Mahavira or Great hero because of his heroic deeds in his childhood. He is believed to be consecrated by Indra on Mount Meru. His previous births are mentioned in Mahapurana.

   At the age of thirty Mahavira left the comforts of his palace and left to lead the life of an ascetic. His aim was spiritual awakening. He gave up everything he had including his clothes. He went to various places and meditated; underwent rigorous hardships. The places included Nalanda, Mithila,Shravasti and Vaishali.  He attained enlightenment or kevalajnana under a sala tree. Jaina texts Harivamsa-purana and Uttara-purana have described this event. He  became all-knowing and all-seeing. After this he travelled all over India to spread his message. He had thousands of lay followers, sravakas(male) and sravikas(female). His royal followers included King Bimbisara of Magadha and King Kunika of Anga. His teachings are brought together in Agamas, canons. His chief disciple Gautama Swami compiled many of his teachings.  Lord Mahavira preached ahimsa or non-violence, satya or truthfulness, brahmacharya  or chastity, for monks, aparigraha or non-attachment and achaurya  or non-stealing.

   Lord Mahavira attained to nirvana from samsara or the cycles of birth and death at 72 in Pawapuri (in Bihar). The funeral rites are done by heavenly beings of tirthankaras and only the hair and nails are left behind, the rest of the body dissolving into air, as said in the Pravachana-sara.

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Birth of Mahavira, Kalpasutra, late 14th century, gouache on paper, India.

By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The depiction below shows  Mahavira  on the left decked in jewellery, probably during his consecration.

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Mahavira in a miniature from Kalpasutra, early 15th century,Gujarat, British Museum, London.

By Jaina manuscript [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

        Depicted below is Mahavira’s nirvana, the crescent shaped siddhashila,a place where all siddhas reside after nirvana is clearly seen.

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Mahavira’s nirvana or moksa, Folio from Kalpasutra series, loose leaf manuscript,15th century, Patan, Gujarat.

By Anishshah19 (15th Century art) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Mahavira attaining enlightenment in goduhasana posture,painting.

By Amitjain80 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Mahavira,manuscript, early 15th century,Gujarat.

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6698017

References :

  • The peaceful liberators : Jain art from India/Pal,Pratapaditya,Los Angeles : LACMA,1996.
  • wikipedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

Shakuntala’s story : painted depictions

 

The story of Shakuntala and King Dushyanta is from the Indian epic Mahabharata and retold by poet Kalidasa in his Abhignanashakuntalam . It is a very popular story in India.

        Shakuntala was born to apsara Menaka and Sage Viswamitra. Viswamitra however refused to accept the child. Sage Kanva found her in a forest and surrounded by shakunta birds. He named her Shakuntala; on who is protected by shakunta birds. Shakuntala grew up to be beautiful damsel. One day King Dushyanta who the son of Ilina and Rathantara and king of Hastinapur and ancestor of the Kurus;  was travelling through the forest with his entourage and trying to hunt down a male deer. He meets Shakuntala and both fall in love with each other. He spends time with her and they have a Gandharva marriage. Before leaving back for his royal duties, he gives  Shakuntala his royal ring, promising he would return to take her to his palace.

      During Dushyanta’s absence Shakuntala kept dreaming about him. One day while she was lost in thoughts of Dushyanta, Sage Durvasa came to the ashram where she lived, but Shakuntala did not greet him properly. He cursed her saying that the person she was thinking about would forget her. Immediately her friends came and intervened and the sage modified his curse saying that he would remember on showing a personal token given to her.

       Much time passed but King Dushyanta did not come to take her. She along with some companions set out for the city along with age Kanva. On the way they had to cross ariver by a boat and finding the blue water, Shakuntala ran her hand through it. The ring given by Dushyanta slipped out of her finger without her realising it. She reached Dushyanta’s court but he failed to recognise her. Her ring too had gone missing so Shakuntala had to return. She was devastated by the happenings and in grief settled in the wild forest along with her son Bharata. Bharata, surrounded only by wild animals, grew to be a strong youth and made a game of opening the mouths of tigers and lions to count their teeth.

  However fate had other plans. The ring was swallowed by a fish. A fisherman was surprised to see a royal ring in the stomach of  a fish and took it to the palace. On seeing the ring, King Dushyanta recalled everything !

   He set out for the forest and came to the ashram where Shakuntala used to live. On not finding her, he started roaming in the wild forest looking for her. He came upon a young boy who was playing with lion cubs. He asked him his name. He replied saying he was Bharata, King Dushyanta’s son. The king was very happy and the boy led him to his beautiful bride Shakuntala and the family was reunited.

         Some different versions of the story too exist and has been retold by many authors. According to one version apsara Menaka takes Shakuntala to heaven after Dushyanta fails to recognise her and Bharata is born there. King Dushyanta then had to fight with the devas to get her back along with his son Bharata. Bharata is believed to have become the emperor who founded the Bharata dynasty of India and the name Bharatvarsha is after the same dynasty.

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Birth of Shakuntala,painting, Raja Ravi Varma,19th century.

Raja Ravi Varma [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Shakuntala,painting, Raja Ravi Varma,19th century.

Raja Ravi Varma [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Dushyant and Shakuntala in a landscape, folio from a Mahabharata, 1800, Kangra,Himachal Pradesh.

By India, Himachal Pradesh, Kangra Valley, South Asia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Dushyant and Shakuntala, print, 1940s.

By vinatge Pints [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Shakuntala

Shakuntala,painting,Raja Ravi Varma, 19th century.

By Raja Ravi Varma – http://abhisays.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/raja_ravivarma_painting_sakunthala1.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10258137

 

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Sage Durvasa cursing Shakuntala, lithograph, 1895.

By Chore Bagan Art Studio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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Shakuntala writing letter to Dushyant,painting, Raja Ravi Varma, 19th century. 

Raja Ravi Varma [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Shakuntala in grief, painting,1919.

By Sunity Devee, Maharanee Artist – S. N. Das (Nine ideal Indian women (1919)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Raja Ravi Varma, Menaka and Sakunthala (1891).jpg

Apsara Menaka taking her daughter Shakunthala to heaven, painting,Raja Ravi Varma,19th century.

Raja Ravi Varma [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Bharat playing with lion cubs,illustration,20th century.

By Ramnadayandatta Shastri Pandey [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

References :

  • wikipedia.org
  • Epics, myths and legends of India/Thomas, P, Bombay : D.B. Taraporevala and Sons.

 

Posted by:

Soma Ghosh

© author

 

 

 

Ram-Sita in art : varied depictions

      Rama is the main protagonist in the great Indian epic, Ramayana of Hinduism. Rama is believed to be  the seventh avatar of Vishnu from the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.The Ramayana is the story of his ideals, his greatness, his life events,  his marriage, his exile, the abduction of his wife Sita and his battle with Ravana.  Scriptures and texts based on the Ramayana exist in many cultures in south Asia.

   Rama was the eldest son of King Dasaratha and Kaushalya of  Kosala (area in present day Uttar Pradesh). Rama is considered to be a perfect man and Sita is considered to be an avatar of Goddess Lakshmi  and a great woman. Rama is revered for his exemplary courage and devotion to religious values, dharma.  Lord Rama faces many obstacles and hardships in his life, serves an exile of fourteen arduous years in the forest along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. During this time ,Sita is abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka. After a long search and with the help of Hanuman, his devotee, she if found there and after a colossal battle with monkey armies where Ravana is killed, he frees Sita. He finally returns to Ayodhya and is crowned to rule with justice and prosperity ; the period is called Rama-rajya.

  Lord Rama is known by other names as Raghava, Raghunandan, Siyavaara, Dasarathaputra, Maryada-purushottama among others.

Lord Rama,painting, probably Thanjavur or Tiruchirapally,Tamil Nadu,early 19th century.

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

              The epic Ramayana is composed by the sage  Valmiki. The Bhagavata purana retells the events up to the defeat of Ravana and Rama’s coronation in Ayodhya. As per the  Vishnu purana, Lord Rama is the seventh  avatar of Vishnu.The stories of Rama are mentioned in the Mahabharata too. In Buddhist texts the Dasaratha Jataka mentions Rama.

  Sita,also known as Siya, Vaidehi, Janaki, Maithili or Bhoomija, is the wife of Rama in Ramayana. She is the daughter of King Janaka of Videha and his wife Sunaina. She is revered for her feminine virtues,dedication, self-sacrifice, courage and purity.Sita has been a much revered figure amongst the Hindus. She has been portrayed as an ideal daughter, an ideal wife and an ideal mother in various texts and stories. Sita is often worshipped with Rama as his consort, as Ram-Sita.

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Marriage of Rama and his brothers,Mandi artists,1750.

By Mandi Artists [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsFile:Rama taking leave of Dasharatha.jpg

Rama taking leave of Dasaratha,painting,late 16th century.

By Asian Art at the San Diego Museum of Art [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Rama,Sita and Lakshmana in exile,painting,19th century.

By Raja Ravi Press [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Ravana visiting Sita as an ascetic,oleograph,19th century.

By Raja Ravi Varma (http://www.barodaart.com/oleographs-ramayana.html) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Ravana approaching Sita during her captivity,painting,20th century.

Nina Paley [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

            Various versions of the Ramayana exist in major Indian languages. In Tamil the epic poem Ramavataram by 12th century poet Kambar, the Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas in the 16th century in Hindi  have been celebrated. Some contemporary versions too have gained importance like Shri Ramayana darshanam by Kuvempu in Kannada and Ramayana kalpavriksham by Viswanatha Satyanarayana in Telugu. 

   Ancient sources say that Rama was born in the end of Tretayuga ,880 thousand years ago. However Ramayana in its current form is dated to 7th-4th century B.C.

 

Rama,Sita and Lakshmana at Rishi Bharadwaj ashram, painting, Kangra,Himachal Pradesh,18th century.

By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Lakshmana and Sita leave Ayodhya,painting,Kangra, early 19th century, Honolulu Academy of Arts,USA.

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

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Sita during agnipariksha, painting, Mughal school,1600s.

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

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Ram-Sita, bazaar art image,1950.

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

Rama,Lakshmana and Sita setting up their house at Panchavati, illustration,Mewar,17th century.

By Sahib Din – he Mewar Ramayana manuscriptshttp://www.bing.com/images/search?q=ramayana&view=detail&id=0C0E701EB344D9DE7CB522AF96579BA349080A53&first=271&FORM=IDFRIR, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18323491

 

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Rama and Sita, Kalighat painting, 19th century,Kolkata.

By Unknown – The Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41948605

 

 

References :

  • wikipedia.org
  • Epics, myths and legends of India/Thomas, P, Bombay : D.B. Taraporevala and Sons.

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

 

© author