Tag Archives: nature

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

 

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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

Bankura horse : icon of terracotta art of Bengal

 

         A horse is an animal who represents energy and movement, known to man for ages. The horse is a companion and a useful animal for various purposes and has been used extensively to drive chariots, carts and as the Cavalry Force along with its rider in battles of yore. Swift and reliable, the horse is revered and there have been many famous horses known to have even saved their riders life. Such is their loyalty.   In Bankura district of West Bengal the horse is depicted as an art object with some ornamentation.  This Bankura horse has become an iconic symbol of Bengal art . The Government of India uses it in its logo for All india Handicrafts. Such is the magic of the horse depiction. It is found at many homes across India and abroadin drawing rooms and gardens. The presence of the Bankura horse immediately livens the space. Made of terracotta or burnt clay, the horse is either mud-brown or black in colour. Elephants are also made by the craftsmen or karigar, but the horse has got more prominence and popularity. The Bankura horse is produced mostly  in the Panchmura village of Bankura district. The other places where the kumbhakars or  potters make this horse along with other depictions like the elephant are Rajagram,Sonamukhi and Hamirpur. Also at Biboda,Kamaridha,Bishnupur,Jaikrishnapur,Nakaijuri and Keyaboti. The popularity of the icon has led to its being made in metal and wood.

File:Horse clipart.svg

 

Horse, animal known for its swiftness and energy, graphic depiction, 21st century.

By warszawianka [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

          The history of the Bankura horse is interesting. It was initially used at village rituals as a symbolic sacrifice. This is done to appease village Gods and Goddesses for fulfillment of wishes. The horses stand tall and erect with lively long ears. They wear the Chandmala on the forehead. The horses made for worship are usually not hollow but solid.  Dharmathakur who is also believed to be a form of Hindu God Surya rides on a seven-horse chariot.

Surya.png.jpg

 

Lord Surya, painting by Raja Ravi Varma, 19th century.

By Raja Ravi Varma – http://barodaart.com/oleographs-mythological.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42516128

      The brick and terracotta temples of Bengal built during the 17th and 18th century depict animals, birds and humans along with floral and geometric patterns as part of the temples as plaques or medallions and also as narratives on the walls of the temples, of  the epics, the Puranas, Radha-Krishna and everyday scenes reflect the expertise of the artists and the refined taste of the patrons.

     The horses are made by the use of a tool called the ucha, a semi circular piece of bamboo. Balya is a stone tool, used for beating, also pitna, a wooden beater. Bamboo Chiari is used for decorating the figures.The potters wheel and kiln are also used. The parts of the horse or elephant are made separately on the wheel and later joined to from the horse. The ears and tails are made in moulds and fixed on the body on grooves. The figures are kept to dry a bit in the sun, then kept inside to dry fully and again heated outside and then the figures are coloured with natural colours. The pigments are mixed with water and applied. The colours are fixed in the kiln.

File:Bishnupur Terracotta Horse 3.JPG

Bankura horses and elephants,terracotta,21st century.

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

File:Artist, maker unknown, Bengali - Kantha (Embroidered Quilt) - Google Art Project.jpg

Kantha embroidery on quilt with a horse depiction, 19th century.

By Artist/maker unknown, Bengali – Artist/Maker (Bengali) Details of artist on Google Art Project [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

References :

  • Terracotta art of Bengal/Biswas,S.S,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,1981.
  • wikipedia.org
  • webindia123.com

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

 

 

Ritusamhara : a garland of seasons

          An epic poem by the celebrated poet of ancient India, Kalidasa from the Gupta era about the six seasons of India. A vivid, sensual and with frankly  erotic undertones, it is a work abounding with the shringara rasa.  This rasa is believed to be the source of all the other rasas; totally nine in number. The shringara rasa includes the feelings of erotic love,song, dance and decoration. Ritu means seasons and samhara means a group or compilation. A better translation of Ritusamhara would be a medley of seasons or a garland of seasonsRitusamhara has been translated into English, Tamil, Marathi etc.

    An early work of Kalidasa; though sometimes its authorship has been challenged. The six seasons portrayed are the grishsma, summer, the varsha or rains, sharat or autumn, hemanta or early winter, shishira or winter and vasanta the spring season. The poet has set lovers ,animals and the separated against the backdrop of nature in different seasons. The sensuality of the work is very raw; the moods captured by the poet in a primal form. Every canto ends with a blessing or benediction !

File:Henri Biva, Looking out onto a lake on a summer day, oil on canvas, 73 x 60.3 cm.jpg

Summer,landscape painting.

By Henri Biva (Christie’s London) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The poet describes the summer season or grishma first. The description is vivid with references to the searing heat and its effect on human beings and animals. The animals are thirsty, the men lacking in longing for their beloved and the separated looking up to the sky. The women are trying to rekindle passion in their lovers by various means.

   ससीकराम्भोधरमत्तकुञ्जरस्तडित्पताकोऽशनिशब्दमर्दलः ।
समागतो राजवदुद्धतद्युतिर्घनागमः कामिजनप्रियः प्रिये ।। २.१ ।।

नितान्तनीलोत्पलपत्त्रकान्तिभिः क्वचित्प्रभिन्नाञ्जनराशिसंनिभैः ।
क्वचित्सगर्भप्रमदास्तनप्रभैः समाचितं व्य्ॐअ घनैः समन्ततः ।। २.२ ।।

तृषाकुलैश्चातकपक्षिणां कुलैः प्रयाचितास्तोयभरावलम्बिनः ।
प्रयान्ति मन्दं बहुधारवर्षिणो बलाहकाः श्रोत्रमनोहरस्वनाः ।। २.३ ।।

बलाहकाश्चाशनिशब्दमर्दलाः सुरेन्द्रचापं दधतस्तडिद्गुणं ।
सुतीक्ष्णधारापतनोग्रसायकैस्तुदन्ति चेतः प्रसभं प्रवासिनां ।। २.४ ।।

प्रभिन्नवैडूर्यनिभैस्तृणाङ्कुरैः समाचिता प्रोत्थितकन्दलीदलैः ।
विभाति शुक्लेतररत्नभूषिता वराङ्गनेव क्षितिरिन्द्रगोपकैः ।। २.५ ।।

The rains or the Varsha ritu is depicted full of energy. The earth has come to life with thunder and lightning and rivers full of water speeding towards the oceans. Forests are green and verdant. Women hurry to meet their lovers bedecked with flowers and perfume. The separated lovers gaze at the clouds with dismay and longing.

सुवासितं हर्म्यतलं मनोहरं प्रियामुखोच्छ्वासविकम्पितं मधु ।
सुतन्त्रिगीतं मदनस्य दीपनं शुचौ निशीथेऽनुभवन्ति कामिनः ।। १.३ ।।

नितम्बबिम्बैः सदुकूलमेखलैः स्तनैः सहाराभरणैः सचन्दनैः ।
शिरोरुहैः स्नानकषायवासितैः स्त्रियो निदाघं शमयन्ति कामिनां ।। १.४ ।।

नितान्तलाक्षारसरागरञ्जितैर्नितम्बिनीनां चरणैः सनूपुरैः ।
पदे पदे हंसरुतानुकारिभिर्जनस्य चित्तं क्रियते समन्मथं ।। १.५ ।।

पयोधराश्चन्दनपङ्कचर्चितास्तुषारगौरार्पितहारशेखराः ।
नितम्बदेशाश्च सहेममेखलाः प्रकुर्वते कस्य मनो न सोत्सुकं ।। १.६

File:The Eager Heroine on Her Way to Meet Her Lover out of Love (Kama Abhisarika Nayika) LACMA M.71.49.6.jpg

Eager maiden in the rain, abhisarika nayika,painting,18th century, Nurpur, Himachal Pradesh,LACMA,USA.

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

Photo of Trees Being Poured by Rain

Rain,image.

http://www.pexels.com

Painting by Sobha Singh,20th century.

By India4art – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28320346

Sharat ritu or autumn has arrived and the rivers have slowed down. The sky has few clouds and the moons glows clearly. Cool breezes blow and the beautiful maidens watch the scene in delight. They wear jasmine in their hair.

व्योम क्वचिद्रजतशङ्खमृणालगौरैस्त्यक्ताम्बुभिर्लघुतया शतशः प्रयातैः ।
संलक्ष्यते पवनवेगचलैः पयोदै राजेव चामरशतैरुपवीज्यमानः ।। ३.४ ।।

भिन्नाञ्जनप्रचयकान्ति नभो मनोज्ञं बन्धूकपुष्परजसारुणिता च भूमिः ।
वप्राश्च पक्वकलमावृतभूमिभागाः प्रोत्कण्ठयन्ति न मनो भुवि कस्य यूनः ।। ३.५ ।।

मन्दानिलाकुलितचारुतराग्रशाखः पुष्पोद्गमप्रचयक्ॐअलपल्लवाग्रः ।
मत्तद्विरेफपरिपीतमधुप्रसेकश्चित्तं विदारयति कस्य न कोविदारः ।। ३.६ ।।

तारागणप्रवरभूषणमुद्वहन्ती मेघावरोधपरिमुक्तशशाङ्कवक्त्रा ।
ज्योत्स्नादुकूलममलं रजनी दधाना वृद्धिं प्रयात्यनुदिनं प्रमदेव बाला ।। ३.७ ।।

कारण्डवाननविघट्टितवीचिमालाः कादम्बसारसकुलाकुलतीरदेशाः ।
कुर्वन्ति हंसविरुतैः परितो जनस्य प्रीतिं सरोरुहरजोऽरुणितास्तटिन्यः ।। ३.८ ।।

 

Maple Tree and Body of Water Photo

Autumn, image.

Source ; pexels.com

        Hemanta or early winter comes and the rice is harvested. Women don’t find lotuses; they use sandalwood paste on their bodies and use fragrant waters in their hair. They come together with their lovers at night. Women show signs of the night’s passion in the morning with tousled hair and sleeping till the sun rises spreading its warmth.

    Shishira is winter and it is very cold. People decide to stay indoors. Harvested rice lies on the floor. Snow fall also happens in some places. Lovers drink wine and after a night of lovemaking women emerge like goddesses; says the poet. their hair is freshly washed and after decorating their faces they begin the day.

पाकं व्रजन्ती हिमजातशीतैराधूयमाना सततं मरुद्भिः ।
प्रिये प्रियङ्गुः प्रियविप्रयुक्ता विपाण्डुतां याति विलासिनीव ।। ४.११ ।।

पुष्पासवामोदसुगन्धिवक्त्रो निःश्वासवातैः सुरभीकृताङ्गः ।
परस्पराङ्गव्यतिषङ्गशायी शेते जनः कामरसानुविद्धः ।। ४.१२ ।।

दन्तच्छदैः सव्रणदन्तचिह्नैः स्तनैश्च पाण्यग्रकृताभिलेखैः ।
संसूच्यते निर्दयमङ्गनानां रतोपभोगो नवयौवनानां ।। ४.१३ ।।

काचिद्विभूषयति दर्पणसक्तहस्ता बालातपेषु वनिता वदनारविन्दं ।
दन्तच्छदं प्रियतमेन निपीतसारं दन्ताग्रभिन्नं अवकृष्य निरीक्षते च ।। ४.१४ ।।

File:Adolf Kaufmann - Sonnenuntergang in Winterlandschaft.jpg

Winter, painting.

Adolf Kaufmann [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

      Spring or Vasanta ritu has been personified as a ”he” by the poet. ‘He’ touches and transforms everything. Nature.Humans. Ponds are full of water.Lotuses bloom. Trees are flowering. Women wear bright clothes,flowers,pearlstrings, bangles and anklets. Bees are humming. the soud of the koel (cuckoo bird) is very appealing. Lovers are busy with each other, as described by the poet.

सुगन्धिनिःश्वासविकम्पितोत्पलं मनोहरं कामरतिप्रबोधकं ।
निशासु हृष्टा सह कामिभिः स्त्रियः पिबन्ति मद्यं मदनीयमुत्तमं ।। ५.१० ।।

अपगतमदरागा योषिदेका प्रभाते कृतनिबिडकुचाग्रा पत्युरालिङ्गनेन ।
प्रियतमपरिभुक्तं वीक्षमाणा स्वदेहं व्रजति शयनवासाद्वासमन्यं हसन्ती ।। ५.११ ।।

अगुरुसुरभिधूपामोदितं केशपाशं गलितकुसुममालं कुञ्चिताग्रं वहन्ती ।
त्यजति गुरुनितम्बा निम्ननाभिः सुमध्या उषसि शयनमन्या कामिनी चारुशोभां ।। ५.१२ ।।

कनककमलकान्तैश्चारुताम्राधरोष्ठैः श्रवणतटनिषक्तैः पाटलोपान्तनेत्रैः ।
उषसि वदनबिम्बैरंससंसक्तकेशैः श्रिय इव गृहमध्ये संस्थिता योषितोऽद्य ।। ५.१३ ।।

प्रफुल्लचूताङ्कुरतीक्ष्णसायको द्विरेफमालाविलसद्धनुर्गुणः ।
मनांसि भेत्तुं सुरतप्रसङ्गिनां वसन्तयोद्धा समुपागतः प्रिये ।। ६.१ ।।

द्रुमाः सपुष्पाः सलिलं सपद्मं स्त्रियः सकामाः पवनः सुगन्धिः ।
सुखाः प्रदोषा दिवसाश्च रम्याः सर्वं प्रिये चारुतरं वसन्ते ।। ६.२ ।।

ईषत्तुषारैः कृतशीतहर्म्यः सुवासितं चारुशिरश्च चम्पकैः ।
कुर्वन्ति नार्योऽपि वसन्तकाले स्तनं सहारं कुसुमैर्मनोहरैः ।। ६.३ ।।

वापीजलानां मणिमेखलानां शशाङ्कभासां प्रमदाजनानां ।
चूतद्रुमाणां कुसुमान्वितानां ददाति सौभाग्यमयं वसन्तः ।। ६.४ ।।

 

File:Vasant Ragini, Ragamala, Rajput, 1770.jpg

Vasant ragini,Ragamala, Rajput, Kota, Rajasthan. 1770.

By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mural,Ajanta caves,Maharashtra.

By Indischer Maler des 6. Jahrhunderts – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=153070

File:First night.png

Mithila painting.

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

Source of Sanskrit text : sa.wikisource.org

 

 

References :

  • Kalidasa;Ritusamhara (The garland of seasons/Rajendra Tandon,tr. New Delhi :Rupa and Co, 2008.
  • indianetzone.com

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

Ancient literature : Meghduta of Kalidasa

         Kalidasa, poet from ancient India has written a beautiful poem. Titled Meghaduta, it means cloud messenger. Though there is some controversy it is generally believed that Kalidasa lived in the Gupta period (Beginning of fourth to end of seventh century) of ancient India. He most probably flourished in the court of emperor Kumaragupta. He was among the nine gems at the Gupta court.

         Nature played an important part in his writings. He has visualised nature in terms of human relationships. Meghaduta is a lyrical poem of 111 stanzas divided into purvamegha and uttaramegha, previous cloud and later cloud.

Kalidasa writing in the fourth century, illustration.

Excerpt from Meghadootam by Kalidasa.

त्वामारूढं पवनपदवीमुद्गृहीतालकान्ताः
प्रेक्षिष्यन्ते पथिकवनिताः प्रत्ययादाश्वसन्त्यः
कः संनद्धे विरहविधुरां त्वय्युपेक्षेत जायां
न स्यादन्योऽप्यहमिव जनो यः पराधीनवृत्तिः॥१.८॥

त्वां चावश्यं दिवसगणनातत्पराम एकपत्नीम
अव्यापन्नाम अविहतगतिर द्रक्ष्यसि भ्रातृजायाम
आशाबन्धः कुसुमसदृशं प्रायशो ह्य अङ्गनानां
सद्यः पाति प्रणयि हृदयं विप्रयोगे रुणद्धि॥१.९॥

Source : sa.wikisource.org/wiki/मेघदूतम्/मेघदूतम्_-_पूर्वमेघ:

     It is a poem about separation and the longing to be with one’s beloved. This bitter-sweet account is vivid with description. A yaksha, an attendee of the God of wealth, Kubera,he has been banished to the thick forests on earth due to negligence of duties.  He has been given this punishment by  Kubera. He had started neglecting his duties because he is completely smitten with his wife.

   As his days pass in the forests, one day it starts to rain. He sees a rain-cloud and requests it to take a message to his beloved who stays at Alakapuri on Mount Kailash; a mythical city in the Himalayas. The poem describes all the sights the rain cloud will see on his northward way to the city. The scenes described are as vivid as possible so that the rain-cloud is encouraged to deliver the message. Such is the longing to connect with one’s beloved. This composition is a sandesa kavya or messenger poem.

  Meghaduta has been translated to English in 1813, By Horace Hayman Wilson, and also into many other languages. Many artists have made paintings based on the scenes described.

An excerpt of the translation :

…..Reflexion told what promise of delight

sprang from such gathering shades to happier sight

Where the worn traveller is joyed to trace

His home approaching and a wife’s embrace

What hope alas was his ! yet fancy found,

Some solace in the glooms that deepened around.

And bade him hail amidst the labouring stir.

A friendly envoy to his distant fair….

Utka Nayika,lady awaits her lover, late 18th century, Kangra, British Museum, London.

Cloud, Rain, Texture, Abstract, Landscape, Sky, Clouds

Rain cloud.

Background, Air, Clouds, Grass, Tree, Blue Sky, Cloud

Moving clouds.

 

ज्योतिर्लेखावलयि गलितं यस्य बर्हं भवानी
पुत्रप्रेम्णा कुवलयदलप्रापि कर्णे करोति
धौतापाङ्गं हरशशिरुचा पावकेस तं मयूरं
पश्चाद अद्रिग्रहणगुरुभिर गर्जितैर नर्तयेथाः॥१.४७॥

आराद्यैनं शरवणभवं देवम उल्लङ्घिताध्वा
सिद्धद्वन्द्वैर जलकणभयाद वीणिभिर मुक्तमार्गः
व्यालम्बेथाः सुरभितनयालम्भजां मानयिष्यन
स्रोतोमूर्त्या भुवि परिणतां रन्तिदेवस्य कीर्तिम॥१.४८॥

https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki

Image result for meghaduta

Valley of flowers.

clouds, forest, mountains

Clouds and mountains.

 

 

References :

  • Marg : Vol. 42 Issue no. 3; March 1991.
  • wikipedia.org

Image attributions in sequence :

  1. By Unknown – https://archive.org/details/hutchinsonsstory00londuoft, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39272105
  2. By Anonymous – British Museum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20756358
  3. maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com
  4. maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com
  5. By अंग्रेज़ी Wikipedia पर Araghu(Original text: Raghuram. A) – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.(Original text: Photo taken by en:User:araghu), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2148384
  6. http://www.pexels.com

 

Posted by ;

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

Kalpavriksha or tree of life : depictions from Asia

 

 The concept of the tree of life, wish fulfilling tree  exists in many cultures. In India the word used is kalpataru or kalpavrikhsha.  Also known as Kalpadruma, it  is a divine tree in Hinduism. It has been mentioned in Sanskrit  literature like Manasara, part of Shilpashastra  and Jain cosmology.  Some depictions in art are mentioned  herein from Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka in India and Java in Indonesia.

    The birth of the kalpavriksha happened during the samudramanthan or churning of the ocean as per Hindu mythology. Along with the tree, the wish fulfilling cow kamadhenu was also born. Lord Indra is supposed to have taken them to heaven, devaloka, along with him and planted it there.  As per mythology  there are five kalpavrikshas; mandana, parijata, santana, kalpavrikhsa and harichandana. All these are believed to grant different wishes to the  devas or gods and out of jealousy the asuras or demons waged wars with them. Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati gave away their daughter Aranyani to a Kalpavriskha for safekeeping when the demon Andhakasura waged war, with a request to bring her up as Vanadevi, or protector of forests. Another daughter Ashokasundari was created from a Kalpavriksha to be a companion to Parvati during period of loneliness.

     The banyan tree or nyagrodha is called kalpataru; the coconut tree whose every part is utilised by human beings for various purposes,the ashwatha (fig) tree, believed to be sacred, mahua tree, shami tree or jaant  of Rajasthan which stays green always and checks soil erosion is also referred to as kalapataru. A variety of palm is considered as kalpataru in Tamil Nadu in India. The Baobab or Parijata  tree is called kalpavriksh in Uttar Pradesh, believed to have been brought by Arjuna, one of the main Pandavas from the epic Mahabharata.    

      The Great Stupa at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh, India has many depictions of the bodhi tree which is shown as being worshipped for its association with Lord Buddha. The bodhi tree is an akshaya vata, eternal, life giving tree. Originally commissioned by King Ashoka in 3rd century B.C many structures were added to the stupa complex by other dynasties. Scenes from Lord  Buddha’s life are sculpted on the toranas (gateways) and other structures in and around the stupa.

image001.png

Sculpture at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.

Photographed at the Sanchi Hill, Raisen district of the state of Madhya Pradesh, India.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

image003.png

Sculpture at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia

image005.png

Sculpture at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.

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

      A Hindu temple at Java in Indonesia Candi Prambanan from the 9th century is dedicated to the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The temple has pointed architecture with a large complex of many individual shrines. The epics Ramayana and Bhagavata-purana are depicted along the inner balustrade walls of the main shrines. The kalpataru is depicted on the lower outer wall niches.

image007.png

Kalpataru guarded by Kinnara and Kinnari, mythical beings at Candi Prambanan, Java, Indonesia.

By Gunawan Kartapranata (Own work originally uploaded in english wikipedia) [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
image009

Kalpataru and Kinnara, Siva Temple, Candi Prambanan, Java.

Photograph from Prambanan temple compound near Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia taken by Anandajoti.By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (043 Kalpataru and Kinnara, Siva Temple) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

image011.png

Kalpataru and peacocks, Vishnu Temple, Candi Prambanan, Java,Indonesia.

Photograph from Prambanan temple compound near Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia taken by Anandajoti.
By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (124 Kalpataru and Peacocks, Visnu Temple) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

image013.png

Kalpataru and lions, Nandi Temple, Candi Prambanan, Java,Indonesia.

Photograph from Prambanan temple compound near Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia taken by Anandajoti.
By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (129 Kalpataru and Lions, Nandi Temple) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

image015.png

Kalpataru and monkeys, Brahma Temple,Candi Prambanan , Java, Indonesia.

By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (085 Kaplataru and Monkeys, Brahma Temple) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

     In Jainism too the kalpavrikshas are wish fulfilling trees. There are ten such trees who grant different wishes. The madyanga trees provides delicious drinks, the Bhojananga provides great food, yotiranga gives light, dopanga gives indoor light  The others  include pananga, turiyanga, bhusananga, vatthanga, alayanga, diviyanga who provide music, ornaments, mansions, utensils etc.

image017.png

Kalpataru, wall painting, Jain Basadi, Moodbidri, Karnataka,India

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

Ranakpur temple - Kalpavriksha leaf carving

Kalapavriksha  carving in marble, Jain temple at Ranakpur, Rajasthan, India.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pbarry ( Photo taken by Patrick Barry)

 

References :

  • wikipedia.org

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

©author

Fauna in Indian art : depictions through time

Man is as much a part of the earth as is the nature around him. The best of nature exists as rocks, trees and animals. Some animals have played a big role in man’s life. He has captured them in art in sculpture,painting and even on coins as symbolic depictions. Fauna is a term used to represent animals in general. Various representations of fauna can be seen in different works of art, mythological story depictions, Buddhist and Jaina relics and rock shelters from prehistoric times. Mughal emperors have left behind hundreds of animal and bird depictions in miniature paintings for posterity.

In Madhya Pradesh, in present day India, rock shelters in Bhimbetka has paintings which depict the early life,beliefs and thoughts of early human populations. Rock art is found in all five continents of the world, two third of India’s art is found in Madhya Pradesh alone. Rock shelters depict many aspects of society and life of the earlier times they were made in; the hunting scenes,scenes of dancing,types of animals,costumes and tools used etc. Many drawings were pictographic representations and connected to the ecosystem of the group or individuals who made them. The paintings at Bhimbetka are most likely from the mesolithic period. Paintings were often made to appease deities,chase away diseases or to ensure fertility.image001

Animal figures at Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh

By Michael Gunther – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39414027

image003

Horse and man,  Bhimbetka caves,Madhya Pradesh

By Bernard Gagnon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33749834

At Amaravati in Guntur district ,right of the Krishna river of present day Andhra Pradesh, erstwhile capital of the Satavahana dynasty  from 2nd century B.C to 3rd century A.D., is a stupa site.Founded by an emissary of emperor Ashoka, Amaravati is an important Buddhist centre, identified as Dhanyakataka and a place of origin of Tantric teachings especially Kalchakra. The stupa was originally a simple structure with limestone crossbars and simple carvings.The Satavahanas renovated and embellished it with superb and intricate carvings depicting Lord Buddha’s life and teachings. Acharya Nagarjuna’s efforts have also gone into the construction of the stupa which was also called Deepaladinne, Mahastupa and Mahachaitya. The slabs of the stupa are famous for its Buddhist inscriptions.  The stupa is believed to have stood taller than the Great Stupa at Sanchi. The important remains of the stupa are at The Government Museum, Chennai.

image005

Horse depicted in Amaravati art, Andhra Pradesh

By I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22568696

image007

Gazelles in sculpture, Amaravati art,Andhra Pradesh

By I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22568681

Madhubani paintings, an age old folk art form of Mithila region , in present day Bihar, literally meaning  ‘forest of honey’, portrays images of gods, goddesses and various objects from the animal and plant world. These paintings vibrate with life and hold a very unique place. One of the avatars of Lord Vishnu of the Hindu trinity, as the fish or Matsya avatar, from the Dasavataras or his ten incarnations is depicted in Madhubani art.

image009

Lord Vishnu in a fish, depicting Matsya avatar, Madhubani painting

By Mithiart.com – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30977311

The Hoysala dynasty built  ornate, richly carved grand temples at Halebidu and Belur,  in present day Karnataka in the 12th and 13th centuries. Built on stellate platforms with chloritic schist, a grey-green stone,these temples had high domed towers with many shrines in the temple complex. Temples of the time were educational centres, musical centres and courts of justice. The outside of the temples are covered with sculptures, the lower friezes include animals and plants and scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana.The term Hoysala means ‘a young man fighting a lion’ and their royal emblem depicting this idea is seen at their Chennakesava temple at Belur.

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Elephants, Hoysaleswara temple, Halebidu, Karnataka

By Pushkar V – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19050536

image015.jpg

The royal Hoysala emblem, depicting man and lion, Belur

By Dineshkannambadi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4609444

The Kakatiyas ruled Andhradesa including the areas of Telangana, from Warangal, in present day Telangana during 1150 A.D to 1323 A.D. Great builders, they  built many temples. They also built an impressive fort at Warangal whose ruins can be seen today, depicting beautiful sculptural work. The fort’s four impressive gateways called the Keerthithoranams are grand and has been adopted in the logo of the state of Telangana. Among other sculpture depictions, animal motifs, kirtimukha(gargoyles), floral designs have been used  to enhance the charm of the creations.

image017

Frieze of lions, Kakatiya sculpture, Warangal, Telangana

Pic : Isha Vatsa

The shalabhanjikas,alasa kanyas and madanikas and  are an important idiom in Indian sculpture. A young maiden holding the branch of the sala tree, or holding a mirror, or playing a musical instrument, or as huntress or seen holding a parrot are frequently depicted. The Chennakesava temple at Belur (already mentioned) has around 40 such shalabhanjikas in different moods. Mentionable here is the one with the parrot, ornately carved, with the maiden wearing a serene expression and  in harmony with the bird in her hand.

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Madanika holding a parrot, Chennakesava temple, Belur ,Karnataka

By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – Madanika (Temple de Chennakeshava à Belur, Inde), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37213510

The Virabhadra temple at Lepakshi, in Anantapur district of present day Andhra Pradesh is a marvellous example of Vijayanagara art and architecture. It is believed that sage Agastya visited this place on his sojourn to the Vindhya region. The area where Lepakshi is appears to have been under the Mauryas, Satavahanas,Gangas, Chalukyas of Badami,Nolambas and the Chalukyas of Kalyani. The Vijayanagara kings ruled this region between the 14th and 17th centuries. Built by Virupanna, treasurer under King Achyutaraya, the temple is dedicated to Virabhadra.  The temple has a rangamandapa, ardhamandapa, a kalyanamandapa and garbagriha. The temple has beautiful mural paintings on its walls and ceilings. The pillars are ornately done in the temple.The great sculptures of the temple are the Nagalinga and Basavanna, a huge monolithic bull, beautifully carved,15 feet high and 27 feet wide, some distance away from the temple.

image011

Monolithic bull at Lepakshi, Anantapur,Andhra Pradesh

By Vinay332211 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21123320

 

The Mughal empire in India started in 1526 with emperor Babur, after the decisive First Battle of Panipat. During the 16th,17th and 18th centuries Mughal painting emerged as a combination of Persian, Turkish and Indian styles. It grew and developed  under different emperors. Emperor Akbar commissioned the painting of Persian and Indian epics. Under Emperor Jahangir, the scenes were mostly from his own life and included flowers, animals and birds. Emperor Shahjahan encouraged painting of palace scenes, gardens, lovers and ascetics.

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Emperor Babur on a rhino hunt near Peshawar,from the  Baburnama

By Unknown – Painting from the Babur Nama reproduced with the kind permission of the National Museum, New Delhi in pg 127 of Treasures of Natural History (2005) eds A. S. Kothari & B. F. Chhapgar, Bombay Natural History Society and Oxford University Press, Mumbai., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3217018

image022

A Mughal tournament, Mughal  painting

By Payāg, Indian style – http://www.iranica.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12223783

image024Ganjifa playing cards. Mughal style, 19th century.

By Jainamishra – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47578537

 

References :

Chakravarty, K. K,ed./Rock art of India;New Delhi : Arnold Heinemann,1984.

Thakur,Upendra/Madhubani painting;New Delhi ; Abhinav Publications.

Rao,Amancharla Gopala/Lepakshi;Hyderabad: A.P.Lalit Kala Akademi,1969.

Knox,Robert/Amravati;London: British Museum,1992.

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Posted by : Soma Ghosh