S I MO N RAY INDIAN
& ISLAMIC WORKS OF ART
S I MO N RAY INDIAN & ISLAMIC WORKS OF ART
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A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S
It is with great pleasure that I present this fourteenth catalogue of Simon Ray Indian & Islamic Works of Art. I would like to thank the many scholars and experts who have so kindly and generously helped us prepare this catalogue: Robert Skelton, Jerry Losty, Andrew Topsfield, Katrina van Grouw, Will Kwiatkowski, H端lya Bilgi, Amin Jaffer, Steven Cohen, Robert J. Del Bonta and Adeela Qureshi. I would like to thank the following for their expertise in the installation and display of the works of art: Helen Loveday, Louise Gooch, Colin Bowles, Caroline Turner and Tim Blake. Leng Tan has written the entries for this catalogue. I would like to thank Leng for his conscientious research and writing that conveys the spirit of each work of art so elegantly. William Edwards has written the sculpture and ceramic entries with superb research and great enthusiasm. I would also like to thank William for looking after the catalogue production at every stage. Finally, I would like to thank Alan Tabor for his excellent photography, Richard Harris for all his outstanding repro and colour preparation and Peter Keenan for his elegant design that presents the works of art so exquisitely.
Ivory & Wood
1 BUDDHA HEAD
GANDHARA, 2ND/3RD CENTURY HEIGHT: 25 CM WIDTH: 15.2 CM DEPTH: 15.4 CM
A carved and highly polished dark grey schist sculpture depicting the head of the Buddha. He faces forward and has his hair tied in a usnisha or top knot. To the top of the head, the hair, made up of large and prominent snail-shell curls rather than the more usual wavy lines normally seen on images of the Buddha, is gathered into a large bun-shaped usnisha. Below, to the centre of the forehead is an urna or third eye. Sharp and curving edges create the wide eyebrows which cover large deeply cut stylised almond-shaped eyes and lids. The eyes look directly out at the viewer and are half opened. His nose is long, thin and straight, with slightly flaring nostrils. The realistically carved mouth has a thin straight top lip which is covered slightly on either side by the thicker downturned bottom lip below, giving an expression of serenity and contemplation. He also has long, thin concave ears to either side. The colour of the schist used for this sculpture is an unusually dark grey, almost black, suggesting a lovely patina created over many years. For a Buddha sculpture with the same snail shell-curls, see W. Zwalf, A Catalogue of the Gandhara Sculpture in the British Museum, 1996, vol. II, p. 26, pl. 31. For a similarly dark polished head of the Buddha, see Pratapaditya Pal, Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum, Volume I: Art from the Indian Subcontinent, 2003, p. 52, no. 20. Provenance: Dr. Ernst A. Lomnitz
2 B O D H I S AT T VA B U S T
GANDHARA, 2ND/3RD CENTURY HEIGHT: 23.8 CM WIDTH: 18 CM DEPTH: 12 CM
A dark grey polished schist sculpture of the head and neck of a bodhisattva, probably Maitreya, the Buddha of the future. His long wavy hair is drawn up into an elaborate chignon and secured with a triangular beaded tiara featuring single large stones placed to each corner and to the middle. Further hair flows down either side in thick curls around his ears and onto his shoulders. Decorating his neck is a wide, flat necklace with a central jewelled section which stands proud. Over this falls a thick chain necklace which would have ended in angled makara heads that met in the middle across his broad chest at a central rectangular amulet. A part of his uttariya (robes) hangs gracefully from his right shoulder. His oval face looks down and slightly to the left, with an expression of deep concentration. His almond-shaped eyes are heavy-lidded below sharp-edged brows, with a bow-shaped mouth beneath his thin and wide moustache. An impressed urna sits above the nose. His elongated ears pin back the flowing locks behind, and sport the remains of large earrings. The overall impression is one of aristocratic elegance, with the many items of jewellery indicating his princely origin. For a similar jewelled tiara and group of necklaces on a Maitreya sculpture, see Isao Kurita, Gandharan Art II: The World of the Buddha, 2003, p. 34, fig. 73; for a similar bodhisattva bust, see p. 16, fig. 20 in the same publication.
Provenance: Dr. Ernst A. Lomnitz
Literature: W. Zwalf, A Catalogue of the Gandhara Sculpture in the British Museum, 1996, vol. II, pp. 37-48.
3 S E AT E D B U D D H A
GANDHARA, 2ND/3RD CENTURY HEIGHT: 32 CM WIDTH: 29 CM DEPTH: 8 CM
A carved grey-brown schist architectural element formed as a square tile with a relief sculpture of a seated Buddha to its centre, framed above by two horizontally carved stepped sections also in relief and separated to the middle by a dovetailed void. The unusually coloured stone, possibly micaceous schist, is closely related to slate, and certainly has a similar appearance. The centrally placed Buddha is seated in the meditative dhyanasana pose with the accompanying dhyanamudra hand gesture. His hair, with a slight widow’s peak, is drawn up into a bun or usnisha, the thick wavy strands contrasting with his smooth polished countenance below. His round face has half-closed eyes below sharply defined brows, a slightly upturned mouth with full lips and long prominent nose, framed to either side by concave ears. He exudes an air of quiet and solemn contemplation. His robes or uttariya fall down in thick folds across his torso with only his clasped hands showing. Above, framing the Buddha’s head is a leafy arcing branch, probably part
of the Bodhi tree which still stands to this day beside the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, India, and is where he attained enlightenment some two thousand five hundred years ago. The Buddha sits on a rounded lotus pedestal base which tapers in, therefore giving the impression that he is almost floating above it. Behind is a double nimbus, indicative of his status, and also possibly suggesting the “brilliancy of his person like the brightness of the Sun or the Moon” 1. According to Pratapaditya Pal, there is only one cited instance of a Gandhara sculpture with a double nimbus or aureole2, and so our sculpture is a rare and until now undiscovered further example.
For a similar sized architectural tile featuring the same dovetailed void, see “The Buddha’s First Sermon at Sarnath”, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, accession no. 1980.527.4.
Provenance: Dr. Ernst A. Lomnitz and thence by descent to his daughter Georgina Lomnitz.
This sculpture and catalogue nos. 1 and 2 were acquired by Dr. Lomnitz in the 1930s in India and brought to England via Italy in 1961. When the Nazi regime came to power in Germany, Dr. Lomnitz fled first to France and then to India, where he lived from the 1930s to the 1950s in Bombay (Mumbai). Dr. Lomnitz was a lawyer by training but he worked for a commercial firm in Bombay.
The square shape and dovetailed void above the seated Buddha suggests that this piece would have been joined to other similar elements to form a large panel, possibly depicting a story or jataka from the Buddha’s life. The nimbus, the unusual slate schist in its muted grey-brown tones and the plain nature of the panel surrounding the Buddha combine to create an extremely unusual and rare sculptural element.
In 1956, Dr. Lomnitz left India for Milan where he continued to work for the same commercial firm. Dr. Lomnitz settled in London in 1961, bringing the three sculptures with him. He was Deputy General Secretary of the Association of Jewish Refugees from 1963 to 1976. Dr. Lomnitz died in London in 1985.
References: 1. Pratapaditya Pal, Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum, Volume 1: Art from the Indian Subcontinent, 2003, p. 57, no. 25. 2. Ibid.
For the only other known example of a double nimbus, see Pratapaditya Pal, Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum, Volume I: Art from the Indian Subcontinent, 2003, p. 57, no. 25.
4 S TA N D I N G G A N E S H A
CAMBODIA (PRE-ANGKOR), CIRCA 7TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 46 CM WIDTH: 27.5 CM DEPTH: 18 CM
A carved greyish yellow sandstone sculpture of a standing Ganesha, wearing a sampot and facing forwards, his trunk bent at a right angle so as to reach the sweets in his left hand. Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god of auspiciousness, stands in a formal pose, staring directly out at the viewer through his heavily incised eyes. His ears, chased to the tops to indicate bone or sinew, sit to either side, gently resting upon his broad shoulders. Below, his large tusk-less trunk swings to his left side, bringing a constant supply of sweets or laddus from his hand and towards his hidden mouth. His mostly naked body has a prominent bulbous belly, almost echoing the curves of the trunk above, whilst framing below his traditional Khmer wraparound sampot with a portion of the garments hanging as a sash between his legs. His now missing right arm would possibly have carried his broken tusks.
in Wolfgang Felten and Martin Lerner, Thai and Cambodian Sculpture from the 6th to the 14th centuries, 1988, pp. 174-175, colour pl. 6. Felten and Lerner observe that representations of Ganesha in pre-Angkorian art are rare and disparate in style. They cite two related examples, one at the Phnom Penh Museum and another at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The earliest representations of Ganesha in Cambodian art are from the seventh century, the dating of our sculpture. Indian Ganeshas tended to have four arms rather than the two we see here. The lack of adornment to his body and his naturalistic and anatomical portrayal are all signs of sculpture from this period.1
Provenance: Douglas Latchford since the 1980s
Reference: 1. Helen Ibbitson Jessup and Thierry
A related standing Ganesha from the pre-Angkor period is illustrated
ZĂŠphir (eds.), Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia, 1997, p. 180.
5 FEMALE DEITY
the sculpture takes on a certain delicate elegance due to its unusual thinness and slight S-curve shape.
KHMER (ANGKOR PERIOD, BAPHUON STYLE), SECOND HALF OF THE 11TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 21 CM WIDTH: 7.3 CM DEPTH: 3.4 CM
It is probable that the deity is either Uma or Lakshmi, the consorts of Vishnu and Shiva, but as her hands and attributes are missing, we cannot be certain. For similar sculptures, see Helen Ibbitson Jessup and Thierry ZĂŠphir (eds.), Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia, 1997, pp. 254-255, no. 56; and Wolfgang Felten and Martin Lerner, Thai and Cambodian Sculpture from the 6th to the 14th Centuries, 1988, pl. 28 and p. 215, no. 28.
A carved yellow sandstone sculpture of the body of a graceful female deity, with slender proportions and presented in a stiff formal pose. She is clothed in a decorative pleated sampot which flares slightly to the bottom edge. It hangs high up from her hips, dipping low to the front below her navel where it is tied together and secured by a plain scarf with a thin border to its top and bottom. The vertical hem is folded over in the standard Baphuon fashion to create the long front panel which ends in a flaring fishtail motif.1 She is unadorned, though her bare torso may have been decorated with jewellery during religious ceremonies.2 Her breasts are firm and close together, suggesting youth whilst her pinched waist contrasts with her wider hips and shoulders. When seen in profile,
Provenance: Collection of the author Axel Aylwen who was in Thailand in the 1960s and early 1970s, then the UK and New York.
References: 1. Wolfgang Felten and Martin Lerner, Thai and Cambodian Sculpture from the 6th to the 14th Centuries, 1988, p. 215. 2. Emma C. Bunker and Douglas Latchford, Adoration and Glory: The Golden Age of Khmer Art, 2004, p. 224.
6 BRONZE BUDDHA HEAD
THAILAND (AYUTTHAYA STYLE), 14TH/15TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 13 CM WIDTH: 7.2 CM DEPTH: 8 CM
A delightful small bronze head of the Buddha with a polished face depicting a calm, tranquil expression. He has long sweeping earlobes, prominently outlined downcast eyes and narrow but full lips, a pointed nose and small hair curls. His bun-shaped usnisha rises to the remains of a flame finial. There are extensive traces of gilding remaining, concentrated around his nose, mouth and neck. This Buddha head has a slight tilt to the neck and may have once been part of a reclining Parinirvana figure. It has strong influences from the U-Thong tradition. For two similar seated Buddhas, see Hiram W.
Woodward, Jr., The Sacred Sculpture of Thailand: The Alexander B. Griswold Collection, The Walters Art Gallery, 1997, cat. nos. 63 and 64. The kingdom of Ayutthaya, established by King U-Thong in 1350 in the Chao Phraya River basin to the north of Bangkok, was until the Burmese attacked and burned its capital in 1767 one of the richest and most enduring kingdoms of Southeast Asia, attracting innumerable merchants and other visitors, not only from neighbouring Asian countries but also from Europe as well. Colossal stone and stucco images of the Buddha characterise the artistic creations of the early Ayutthaya period.
Provenance: Private UK collection. Purchased by David Davies of Myers and Davies, City Accountants in the1930s and thence by decent.
firmly drawn yet suffused and softened to the edges by turquoise and lilac glazes that penetrate the white border from either side. The palmette is crowned at the apex by a small trefoil bud, just bursting into flower. A small circular disc of turquoise glazed terracotta would have been placed like a jewel within each of the loops to either side of the central palmette.
A mihrab-shaped arch in the Sadberk Hanim Museum, Istanbul, is illustrated in Hülya Bilgi, Reunited after centuries: Works of art restored to Turkey by the Sadberk Hanim Museum, 2005, pp. 28-29, cat. no. 4.
Provenance: The Xavier Guerrand-Hermès Collection, Paris Xavier Guerrand-Hermès is the Vice
The lilac arabesques to either side of the central palmette and to the spandrels above are drawn in a contrasting, more naturalistic style, with the flowers and leaves growing organically upwards as if from a point in the soil. The floral forms are also different and include stylised lotus and carnations together with more exotic composite flowers and crescent-shaped leaves. A broad white border frames the whole design.
Chairman of Hermès of Paris and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, which was established in 1996 with the aim to effect change in the world, beginning with the individual’s own connection with spirituality, and through social transformation, the promotion of inter-religious dialogue and innovative solutions to poverty and injustice in the world.
Xavier Guerrand-Hermès is an Honorary Fellow of Oxford University and Treasurer of Religions for Peace. Reflecting his deep
delicately carved in high relief to give the pierced effect of a veil of lace, the subtle glazes floating against the deeply recessed ground.
Carved and glazed terracotta is a highly attractive technique that predates the Timurid conquest, one of the earliest examples being a fragment in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London dated AH 722/ 1322 AD. Unlike other techniques in the wide range employed by the Timurid tile-makers, such as cut-tile mosaic and cuerda seca, carved and glazed terracotta seems only to have been used in the fourteenth century.
The central trefoil palmette is filled with a symmetrical design in turquoise of interlacing twisting spirals and tendrils, from which sprout variegated cusped and serrated leaves, split-leaf palmettes, composite flowers, curling and trefoil buds and single leaves that float within the tendrils as if blown free by the wind. The taut arabesques are contained within the crisp white outlines of the trefoil palmette,
Similar mihrab-shaped arches are illustrated in Jean Soustiel and Yves Porter, with photography by Antoine Lesieur, Tombs of Paradise: The Shah-e Zende in Samarkand and architectural ceramics of Central Asia, 2003, p. 87. The photograph shows a corner muqarnas squinch at the Mausoleum of an Anonymous Woman, which dates to 1360, at the Shah-e Zende necropolis complex in Samarkand.
7 TIMURID MIHRAB
WESTERN CENTRAL ASIA (TIMURID), SECOND HALF OF THE 14TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 55.5 CM WIDTH: 40 CM DEPTH: 5 CM
A magnificent carved and glazed terracotta panel in the form of a mihrab arch enclosing an inner trefoil palmette standing on a short waisted foot, the surface densely filled with elegant scrolling floral and leafy arabesques in luminous glazes of rich turquoise, white, lilac and aubergine. The terracotta is
interest in the culture of the Muslim world, Xavier Guerrand-Hermès has amassed over many years a diverse collection of the arts of the Islamic worlds, including medieval and later Islamic ceramics, metalwork, miniature paintings and Qur’an manuscripts. Guerrand-Hermès has made the observation that “Islamic Art made me understand how, through calligraphy, one could mix art and spirituality”.
Literature: Frédérique Beaupertius-Bressand, L’or
Bleu de Samarkand: The Blue Gold of Samarkand, 1997. Gérard Degeorge and Yves Porter, The Art of the Islamic Tile, 2002. Thomas W. Lentz and Glenn D. Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision: Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century, 1989. Roland and Sabrina Michaud and Michael Barry, Colour and Symbolism in Islamic Architecture: Eight Centuries of the Tile-Maker’s Art, 1995. Venetia Porter, Islamic Tiles, 1997.
8 MUQARNAS TILE
aid the chemical process of manganese oxide applied with a sticky substance. The deep grooves help to separate the glazes and prevent them from running into each other, while the manganese purple that also holds the colours apart darkens to dark brown or black during firing.
WESTERN CENTRAL ASIA (TIMURID, SAMARKAND), LATE 14TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 30.3 CM WIDTH: 21.7 CM DEPTH: 17 CM
A carved and glazed terracotta muqarnas tile, decorated with a deeply carved symmetrical composition of interlacing vines, overlapping ogivals and split-leaf palmettes, embellished with curling tendrils, trefoil flowers, pointed leaves and delicate buds to form an elegant and complex arabesque. The tile is covered overall with a luminous translucent turquoise glaze, offset by a crisp white border that outlines its pointed arch form. The glaze is thickly applied in an unctuous layer that fills even the deepest recesses, covering the undulating relief with rich, gleaming colour.
Muqarnas is an Arabic term referring to corbels covered in â€œstalactitesâ€?, especially in the vaulted areas of archways or in cupolas. This device, which became widespread in the twelfth century throughout almost the whole of the Islamic world, is one of the most characteristic features of Islamic architecture. This tile would have formed part of a muqarnas structure within and below the spandrels of an arch, in a mausoleum or a mosque. This form can also be seen spread like the leaves of a palm tree as the capital of a round pillar. Carved and glazed terracotta is a highly attractive technique that predates the Timurid conquest, one of the earliest examples being a fragment in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London dated AH 722/1322 AD. Unlike other techniques in the wide range employed by the Timurid tile-makers such as cut-tile mosaic and cuerda seca, carved and glazed terracotta seems only to have been used in the fourteenth century.
An unusual element is the highlighting of the central cusped trefoil palmette in lilac, adding richness and variety to the design while visually projecting the trefoil so that it resonates as the principal motif, floating above the other turquoise scrolls. The tile has a curved triangular projection at the top of its rectangular body, which gives it a three-dimensional quality, complemented by the deep carving in relief to the surface. The projecting spandrels are decorated with a turquoise triangle on each side. The turquoise colour is separated from the white border by deeply incised lines that hold the colours apart. This is an early form of cuerda seca that uses mechanical means to
Provenance: Private Collection assembled in the 1950s Private Scottish Collection
Exhibited and Published: Mikhail Baskhanov, Maria Baskhanova, Pavel Petrov and Nikolaj Serikoff, Arts from the Land of Timur: An Exhibition from a Scottish Private Collection, 8th to 13th January 2013, p. 222, cat. no. 466; catalogue published 2012.
9 MUQARNAS TILE
WESTERN CENTRAL ASIA (TIMURID, SAMARKAND), LATE 14TH CENTURY
separated from each other by deeply incised lines that hold the colours apart and outline the motifs such as the leaves and petals. This is an early form of cuerda seca that uses mechanical means rather than the chemical process of manganese oxide applied with a sticky substance to hold the glazes within the outlines during firing. The deep grooves separate the glazes and prevent them from running into each other. What appear to be the dark manganese outlines of the cuerda seca technique are in fact deep shadows in the narrow crevices.
HEIGHT: 29.5 CM WIDTH: 18 CM DEPTH: 15 CM
An incised and glazed terracotta muqarnas tile, decorated in white and deep manganese purple against a turquoise ground, the design of scrolling tendrils and split-leaves forming interlaced ogival cartouches that enclose and link two stylised lotus flowers.
Similar tiles form part of the muqarnas squinches at the Mausoleum of an Anonymous Woman in the necropolis complex of Shah-e Zende at Samarkand. A corner vault from this building containing a similar tile is illustrated in Jean Soustiel and Yves Porter, with photography by Antoine Lesieur, Tombs of Paradise: The Shah-e Zende in Samarkand and architectural tiles of Central Asia, 2003, p. 87.
The lotus to the top has three upper petals, the white central petal flanked by two purple petals that rise from a base of bifurcated tendrils and buds. The tendrils scroll down to frame the lotus flower at the base of the design. The lower lotus has six purple petals enclosing a single white petal. The white petal bifurcates at its tip to form split-leaf tendrils that rise up to enclose the upper lotus with a knotted heart at the apex, just beneath the point of the muqarnas tile. A crisp white border frames the design.
Provenance: Private Collection assembled in the 1950s Private Scottish Collection
The tile has a curved triangular projection at the top of its rectangular body, which gives it a three-dimensional quality. The spandrels are covered with a rich gleaming turquoise glaze. The colours of the main design are
Exhibited and Published: Mikhail Baskhanov, Maria Baskhanova, Pavel Petrov and Nikolaj Serikoff, Arts from the Land of Timur: An Exhibition from a Scottish Private Collection, 8th to 13th January 2013, p. 217, cat. no. 454; catalogue published 2012.
10 MUQARNAS TILE
WESTERN CENTRAL ASIA (TIMURID, SAMARKAND), LATE 14TH CENTURY
Muqarnas is an Arabic term referring to corbels covered in “stalactites”, especially in the vaulted areas of archways or in cupolas. This device, which became widespread in the twelfth century throughout almost the whole of the Islamic world, is one of the most characteristic features of Islamic architecture. This tile would have formed part of a muqarnas structure within and below the spandrels of an arch, in a mausoleum or a mosque. This form can also be seen spread like the leaves of a palm tree as the capital of a round pillar.
HEIGHT: 25.5 CM WIDTH: 10 CM DEPTH: 12 CM
A carved and glazed terracotta muqarnas tile, decorated with a finely and deeply carved symmetrical design of an ogival lattice composed of four pairs of addorsed split-leaf palmettes. The stems of the split-leaf palmettes interlace between the overlapping ogival forms. The leaves face outwards to give a sense of luxuriant growth and spikiness of form characteristic of the Timurid period. Each of the four ogivals encloses a different stylised floral spray, with varying configurations of three, four and five rounded and pointed petals. The uppermost ogival is crowned by a trefoil palmette enclosing an arabesque interlace. The ogival below has cusped outlines following the shape of the enclosed floral spray.
Provenance: Private Collection assembled in the 1950s Private Scottish Collection
Exhibited and Published: Mikhail Baskhanov, Maria Baskhanova, Pavel Petrov and Nikolaj Serikoff, Arts from the Land of Timur: An Exhibition from a Scottish Private Collection, 8th to 13th January 2013, p. 224, cat. no. 468; catalogue published 2012.
Literature: Frédérique Beaupertius-Bressand, L’or Bleu de Samarkand: The Blue Gold of Samarkand, 1997.
The tile has a slightly curved triangular projection at the top of its elongated rectangular body, which gives it a three-dimensional quality, complemented by the deep carving in relief to the surface. The tile is covered with a luminous translucent turquoise glaze, offset by a crisp white border. The glaze is thickly applied in an unctuous layer, covering the undulating relief with rich, gleaming colour.
Gérard Degeorge and Yves Porter, The Art of the Islamic Tile, 2002. Thomas W. Lentz and Glenn D. Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision: Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century, 1989. Roland and Sabrina Michaud and Michael Barry, Colour and Symbolism in Islamic Architecture: Eight Centuries of the Tile-Maker’s Art, 1995.
11 H E X A G O N S A N D S TA R S
contained by the plain turquoise borders on the long vertical edges. While the tile is part of a much larger frieze that in turn functions within a vast architectural revetment scheme, the geometric perfection of the self-contained design and the unity imparted by the gleaming single colour, make the tile a satisfying integral object, subject only to the internal logic of the mathematical laws that govern the pattern.
WESTERN CENTRAL ASIA (TIMURID, SAMARKAND), LATE 14TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 26.2 CM WIDTH: 17 CM DEPTH: 4.8 CM
A carved and glazed terracotta tile, the surface carved in deep relief with a geometric pattern of hexagons, each with a six-pointed star to the centre from which radiate parallel horizontals and diagonals that connect the stars and hexagons in a complex yet elegant matrix to give a lace-like effect. The surface is covered in a rich turquoise glaze that accentuates the mathematical precision of the design. The dark shadows of the recesses create the impression that the tile is pierced through.
A similar tile in the collection of the Sadberk Hanim Museum, Istanbul, is illustrated in H端lya Bilgi, Reunited after centuries: Works of art restored to Turkey by the Sadberk Hanim Museum, 2005, pp. 26 and 27, cat. no. 3, detail on p. 2, inv. no. 17505-P.657.
Provenance: Private Collection assembled in the 1950s
Five full hexagons at the centre of the design are flanked by half and quarter hexagons emerging from the edges and corners of the tile, giving the effect of an infinitely repeating pattern. The design seems to expand beyond the boundaries of the tile yet it is simultaneously
Private Scottish Collection
Exhibited and Published: Mikhail Baskhanov, Maria Baskhanova, Pavel Petrov and Nikolaj Serikoff, Arts from the Land of Timur: An Exhibition from a Scottish Private Collection, 8th to 13th January 2013, p. 215, cat. no. 450; catalogue published 2012.
12 STRIPED BORDERS AND ARABESQUES
WESTERN CENTRAL ASIA (TIMURID, SAMARKAND), LATE 14TH CENTURY
and the framing margins of cobalt, are held apart by incised outlines to the forms, the glazes thickly applied in unctuous layers of rich, gleaming colour separated by the cut grooves rather than manganese.
HEIGHT: 37.5 CM WIDTH: 16.5 CM DEPTH: 7 CM
The carved and glazed terracotta of the turquoise arabesques is a highly attractive technique that predates the Timurid conquest, one of the earliest examples being a fragment in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London dated AH 722/1322 AD. Unlike other techniques in the wide range employed by the Timurid tile-makers such as cut-tile mosaic and cuerda seca, carved and glazed terracotta seems only to have been used in the fourteenth century. As seen here, the effect has the delicacy of lace, while the deep recesses contrast with the bold graphic effect of the crisp aubergine and white bands, creating a play of undulating surfaces as well as juxtaposing geometry with foliate forms.
A relief carved and glazed terracotta architectural tile element, painted in shades of turquoise, cobalt blue, white and aubergine. The decoration is of two contrasting designs, the first of alternating thick horizontal bands of white and very dark aubergine framed on the inside by cobalt blue margins; the second of deeply carved and glazed turquoise floral arabesques with scrolling tendrils, stylised trefoil and quatrefoil flowers, and split-leaf palmettes. The two techniques of decoration used in this architectural revetment panel are of great interest. The aubergine and white glazes are applied in an unusual technique that may be regarded as an early form of cuerda seca. In the cuerda seca technique, which developed in the second half of the fourteenth century, the colours are separated from each other to prevent running by an oily substance mixed with manganese, which leaves a dark recessed outline after firing. In this tile the aubergine and white bands,
Provenance: Private Collection assembled in the 1950s Private Scottish Collection
Exhibited and Published: Mikhail Baskhanov, Maria Baskhanova, Pavel Petrov and Nikolaj Serikoff, Arts from the Land of Timur: An Exhibition from a Scottish Private Collection, 8th to 13th January 2013, p. 221, cat. no. 463; catalogue published 2012.
13 STRIPED BORDERS AND ARABESQUES
WESTERN CENTRAL ASIA (TIMURID, SAMARKAND), LATE 14TH CENTURY
the forms, the glazes thickly applied in unctuous layers of rich, gleaming colour separated by the cut grooves rather than manganese. The slight curve to the top of the bi-coloured band on the right indicates the beginning of an arch.
HEIGHT: 28 CM WIDTH: 16.5 CM DEPTH: 7 CM
The carved and glazed terracotta of the turquoise arabesques is a highly attractive technique that predates the Timurid conquest, one of the earliest examples being a fragment in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London dated AH 722/1322 AD. Unlike other techniques in the wide range employed by the Timurid tile-makers such as cut-tile mosaic and cuerda seca, carved and glazed terracotta seems only to have been used in the fourteenth century. As seen here, the effect has the delicacy of lace, while the deep recesses contrast with the bold graphic effect of the crisp aubergine and white bands, creating a play of undulating surfaces as well as juxtaposing geometry with foliate forms.
A relief carved and glazed terracotta architectural tile element, painted in shades of turquoise, cobalt blue, white and aubergine. The decoration is of two contrasting designs, the first of alternating thick horizontal bands of white and very dark aubergine framed on the inside by cobalt blue margins; the second of deeply carved and glazed turquoise floral arabesques with scrolling tendrils, stylised trefoil and quatrefoil flowers, and split-leaf palmettes. The two techniques of decoration used in this architectural revetment panel are of great interest. The aubergine and white glazes are applied in an unusual technique that may be regarded as an early form of cuerda seca. In the cuerda seca technique, which developed in the second half of the fourteenth century, the colours are separated from each other to prevent running by an oily substance mixed with manganese, which leaves a dark recessed outline after firing. In this tile the aubergine and white bands, and the framing margins of cobalt, are held apart by incised outlines to
Provenance: Private Collection assembled in the 1950s Private Scottish Collection
Exhibited and Published: Mikhail Baskhanov, Maria Baskhanova, Pavel Petrov and Nikolaj Serikoff, Arts from the Land of Timur: An Exhibition from a Scottish Private Collection, 8th to 13th January 2013, p. 221, cat. no. 463; catalogue published 2012.
14 PORCELAIN MOSAIC
WESTERN CENTRAL ASIA (CHAGHATAYID, KHWARAZM), 14TH CENTURY
this type of porcelain decoration was made by a master craftsman specially brought in from China.
HEIGHT: 23.5 CM WIDTH: 20 CM DEPTH: 3.5 CM
There is relatively little information about how art developed under the Chaghatayids. They were khans of Mongol ancestry who ruled from 1227-1370 in Mawarannahr, Semirechye and Eastern Turkestan. The Chaghatai Khans were descended from Chaghatai (died 1241), the second son of Genghis Khan.
A fragment of a mosaic tile composed of individual pieces of porcelain in shades of white, turquoise, cobalt blue and yellow, with some elements gilded, the design of a five-petalled flower with a yellow centre and white petals on a short turquoise stem.
Provenance: Private Collection assembled in the 1950s
This piece, extremely rare for Central Asia, has been put together using a mosaic technique and is made up of separate elements prepared from porcelain. Materials of this type were not used for architectural decoration in Central Asia during the Chaghatayid era. Mosaic of the Timurid period is made of faience or glazed stone-paste pieces (mocarraq). It is highly possible that
Private Scottish Collection
Exhibited and Published: Mikhail Baskhanov, Maria Baskhanova, Pavel Petrov and Nikolaj Serikoff, Arts from the Land of Timur: An Exhibition from a Scottish Private Collection, 8th to 13th January 2013, p. 200, cat. no. 422; catalogue published 2012.
Published: Chekti [Prayer Beads], Issue 2, 2009, p. 112.
15 C A R N AT I O N S , T U L I P S A N D H YA C I N T H S P R AY S
TURKEY (IZNIK), CIRCA 1565 DIAMETER: 31.7 CM
A polychrome underglaze-painted dish in shades of cobalt blue, black, turquoise, sage green and sealing wax red against a white ground with a design of stylised floral sprays emerging from the cavetto with a further repeated pattern of flowers to the foliate rim. The main field is full of large cusped carnation sprays both open and closed, all with sealing wax red petals and sage green calyxes and leaves. The thin and delicate green stems struggle to support the flowers, bending both left and right. A number of the stems have snapped due to the floral weight they hold, the sprays hanging limply below. The central space is framed by a foliate black line which struggles to contain the floral design within, most noticeably seen by the single cobalt tulip spray which bends to the left as if pushed down upon by the line border above. A pair of hyacinth sprays in cobalt blue can be seen framing the carnations to either side, following the curved border around the outer cavetto edge. The floral sprays all emerge from a group of sage green leaves to the base of the cavetto, echoing a design prevalent in Yuan and Ming dynasty Chinese porcelain.
meander of alternating stylised rosette and leafy sprays covers the cavetto. Painted in a lighter, greyer shade of cobalt, the colour echoes that of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain which influenced Iznik pottery from the early sixteenth century. A collector’s sticker to the base is marked: “Graf Rud. Hoyos”. The unusual shade and thinness of the sealing wax red or Armenian bole as well as its generous application
suggests that this dish is from the earliest period of production using the now famous raised colour which was first noted on Iznik ceramics around 1557. Potters first tried to apply red as a thin solution, almost like the blues, greens and purple. The result was an uneven, and in parts transparent, wash.1 For a similar example, see Frédéric Hitzel and Mireille Jacotin, Iznik: L’aventure d’une collection: Les céramiques ottomanes du musée national de la Renaissance, 2005, p. 200, no. 268; and John Carswell, Iznik Pottery, 1998, p. 77.
Provenance: Collection of Rudolf Graf von Hoyos-Sprinzenstein (1821-1896), a poet and philanthropist, and descendant of Countess Maria Regina von Sprinzenstein and Count Leopold Graf Hoyos who, in 1681 united an Austrian and a Spanish dynasty. They proved to be rather tough, surviving until today and still owning the family home, Rosenburg Castle in Lower Austria with its medieval core, splendid Renaissance arcades, numerous towers and impressive courtyard. It is considered to be the perfect example of a fortification having gradually evolved over the course of centuries. It is picturesquely situated on a rock high above the River Kamp and is amongst the most visited tourist attractions in Lower Austria. Within the ancient master rooms of the castle is a superb collection of unique furniture and paintings where perhaps our Iznik dish may once have been displayed.
Published: Katalog der Hervorragenden Kunstsammlung
Surrounding the main field is a continuous border to the rim of addorsed pairs of tulip sprays in sealing wax red with thin wavy leaves, the ground between them punctuated by blue and raised red cintamani style balls. Underneath, a
Graf Rudolf Hoyos (XCIV. Kunstauktion H. O. Miethke), Vienna, 26th April 1897, lot 582.
Reference: 1. Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, 1989, p. 221.
16 C A R N AT I O N S A N D S T Y L I S E D R O S E T T E S P R AY S
TURKEY (IZNIK), CIRCA 1575 DIAMETER: 31 CM
A polychrome underglaze-painted dish, with a lyrical design of large carnations and stylised rosettes painted in bold tones of cobalt blue, emerald green and sealing wax red with black outlining against a crisp white ground. The central field depicts four large spiky carnation flowers in rich raised sealing wax red. Two confronted sprays rise to the top of the cavetto from the base where they emerge from a leafy tuft. Their rich red flowers contrast with the cobalt and green calyxes and delicate blue stems. Two further addorsed examples have broken stems, their flowers hanging limply down towards the bottom of the dish. Perhaps the fierce wind has snapped the stems, or they have broken under their own weight. Either way, this is an excellent example of occasional devices used by the artist to convey a more naturalistic design. Sprays of stylised five-petalled rosettes in cobalt blue dissect the limp carnations to either side. Vibrant emerald green leaves surround the sprays as well as smaller cartouches to the edge of the cavetto. To the rim of the dish is a stylised breaking wave motif and to the reverse are a series of singular stylised floral sprays in cobalt blue and emerald green. The influence of early Chinese blue-and-white porcelain on this piece is clearly evident. The central design of floral sprays emerging from the cavetto can be traced back to the early Ming dynasty where similar sprays were depicted emerging from a single ribbon-tied bunch on the cavetto’s lower margin. The earlier
Yuan dynasty used a “breaking wave” motif to the rim, seen here in a more stylised and expressive form.1 To the Ottoman potter any mythological associations this motif may have had for the Chinese were unknown, but once attracted by its graphic power it continued to be used well into the seventeenth century.2 By the 1570s the wave border, increasingly removed from its Chinese model, had become a standard feature of Iznik dishes. In its final metamorphosis it became so stylised as to be unrecognisable, to the point of being described as “ammonite scrolls”.3 The very first Iznik examples however, imitate the Yuan waves closely, their rollers painted with feathery parallel lines. These gradual changes in this border motif allow us to accurately date the motifs on Iznik plates. The use of simple floral decoration on the underside of the cavetto also echoes Ming dynasty porcelain. For a similar dish, see Frédéric Hitzel and Mireille Jacotin, Iznik: L’aventure d’une collection, 2005, p. 128, no. 135; and Géza Fehérvári, Islamic Pottery: A Comprehensive Study based on the Barlow Collection, 1973, pl. 91, no. 208a. Provenance: Alfred Spero, Kensington Church Street, in the 1930s.
References: 1. John Carswell, Iznik Pottery, 1998, p. 82. 2. Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, 1989, p. 121. 3. Ibid.
17 G A L L E O N AT S E A
TURKEY (IZNIK), FIRST HALF OF THE 17TH CENTURY
triangular lateen sails, coloured in a pale cobalt blue with occasional raised red spots.
DIAMETER: 29.5 CM
A polychrome underglaze-painted dish of shallow rounded form with an everted rim on a short foot, decorated in shades of cobalt blue, emerald green, sealing wax red and black against a white ground, depicting a large three-masted ship on a sea filled with fish and framed to the border by a scrolling breaking wave pattern. The galleon, its hull painted in black with curved white stripes, has an upper deck filled with white arched niches highlighted with spots of raised red and surrounded by green and cobalt coloured pillars and beams. To the right, the poop deck is painted in a cross-hatched black pattern. A large curved cartouche of sealing wax red follows the contours of the stern, adding strength and a certain three dimensional quality to the ship. The dark masts are topped with raised sealing wax red splashes and pale green flags which blow in the unseen breeze. Below, rigging falls down, partly hidden by the large
The ship floats upon a patch of rough sea, with three large stylised fish with red eyes and green details all facing right. The white surrounding sky has splashes of cobalt blue and raised red in foliate patterns. Framing the central design to the rim is a pattern of black ammonite scrolls or breaking wave motifs with splashes of green and cobalt blue. Iznik ceramics depicted small Mediterranean vessels, but also
those of European origin, with broad beams, high forecastle and poop deck, three masts and square rigging, which were common sights in Ottoman waters.1 Here we seem to have a ship which both displays the triangular lateen sails of Turkish ships as well as the raised poop deck more common in European vessels.
Ottoman Turkey, 1989, p. 281, no. 646. Another example can be seen in Frédéric Hitzel and Mireille Jacotin, Iznik: L’aventure d’une collection: Les céramiques ottomanes du musée national de la Renaissance, 2005, p. 306, no. 452.
An Iznik dish with a similar European galleon can be seen in Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik: The Pottery of
Reference: 1. Walter Denny, Iznik: The Artistry of Ottoman Ceramics, 2004, p. 185.
18 ANIMALS IN A LANDSCAPE
some decorated with spots or stripes; the four birds however have differing colours, their feathers in green, sealing wax red, dark cobalt blue and white, with wings that contrast in another colour from the palette. The beasts all float upon the pale blue ground, surrounded by saz leaves and other stylised leaves and small cusped cartouches. To the centre of the base is a series of ever increasing circles, forming a pattern around the central bird.
SIGNED BY AWLĂ‚D CHEMLA HEIGHT: 8.5 CM DIAMETER: 25 CM
A polychrome underglaze-painted conical dish sitting on an everted foot-rim in shades of green, cobalt blue, light blue, red and black against a cream ground, depicting a pattern of stylised animals and birds floating between floral sprays.
The main field is surrounded by a green border to the top of the cavetto, above which is a plain cream band and a repeated pattern to the rim of alternating cobalt balls and black bird feet. To the bottom of the foot-rim is a stylised floral spray and the artistâ€™s name in Arabic script.
The main field to the interior depicts a group of various animals including rabbits or hares, hounds and leopards as well as quail-like birds, all heavily stylised. The animals are painted in white with a black outline, with
19 T U L I P S A N D R O S E T T E S P R AY S
TURKEY (IZNIK), CIRCA 1575
decorated with cobalt horizontal stripes framed by solid borders of cobalt blue. To the base are three owners’ labels, including one marked: “S.LAGO”.
HEIGHT: 20.8 CM DIAMETER: 13.6 CM
A polychrome underglaze-painted jug in shades of cobalt blue, turquoise, light brown, black and sealing wax red against a white ground, decorated with a floral design of stylised rosettes and tulip sprays.
The copper oxide used for the emerald green has in this example, created a vibrant turquoise hue. It was a notoriously difficult oxide to control in firing due to the high lead content in the glaze, and the bleeding and slight alteration of colour can often be seen in Iznik ceramics.
The jug is of baluster form and rises to a gently flaring mouth, with a simple loop handle to one side. It sits on a raised foot. The bulbous body has a repeated design of large arcing single flowers each emerging from the border to the bottom painted with black marks which imitate marble. The two types of flowers portrayed are large tulips with cobalt petals and greenish turquoise stems and leaves, which alternate with stems of six sealing wax red rosettes framed by tiny leaves. They all bend to the left as if blown by an unseen breeze. The foot-rim below is painted in two horizontal sections of white and café au lait.
For other examples of jugs with similar alternating floral sprays, see Hülya Bilgi, Dance of Fire: Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in the Sadberk Hanim Museum and Ömer M. Koç Collections, 2009, pp. 261 and 391, nos. 146 and 243; and Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, 1989, p. 235, no. 430.
Provenance: The Stéphane Lagonicos Collection
Mr Lagonicos was a member of the wealthy Greek
Above the main field is a thin painted collar of two borders: one of cusped cobalt sections and the other an S-shaped meander in black against a white ground. To the flared mouth is a further pattern of the alternating rosette and tulip sprays. Framing this to the top is a scrolling border in a greenish turquoise, reminiscent of the breaking wave pattern seen to the rim of Iznik dishes. The handle is
community of Alexandria, whose family settled in Egypt in the late nineteenth century. His collection of Iznik ceramics was formed after the First World War, comprising mostly plates and jugs from the classic period of production of around 1570. At least six pieces from his collection were exhibited in the important 1925 Exposition d’art Musulman in Alexandria. He moved from Egypt to Switzerland in 1937.
20 F LO R A L J U G
a similar saz leaf and floral design to that of the main body. A geometric lozenge border with splashes of sealing wax red decorates the rim. To the bottom of the jug is a conical foot-rim with a horizontal lined border. An S-shaped handle is attached from the main body to the rim above with a decorative cobalt blue line. The copper oxide used for the emerald green has in this example, bled across the white ground in places, creating blurred vibrant turquoise patches of colour. It was a notoriously difficult oxide to control in firing due to the high lead content in the glaze, and the bleeding can often be seen in Iznik ceramics.
TURKEY (IZNIK), 1580-1590 HEIGHT: 21 CM DIAMETER: 14.7 CM
A polychrome underglaze-painted jug with a design of stylised floral sprays, saz leaves and meandering borders in shades of cobalt blue, emerald green, sealing wax red, black and turquoise against a white ground. The globular bulbous body has a repeated design of large upright S-curve saz leaves with cusped edges, painted in cobalt blue and emerald green. These are separated to either side by repeated patterns of a trio of stylised floral sprays with petals in sealing wax red surrounding a central cobalt blue bud. Of the two larger examples, one has a broken emerald stem, suggesting it has snapped under the weight of the flower-head above, adding a sense of naturalism to the design. The smaller flower is of a similar but not identical design to the other two. The pattern is framed below by a border of repeated angled black lines.
For a similar pattern on a jug, see Bernard Rackham, Islamic Pottery and Italian Maiolica, 1959, pl. 44, no. 91; and for the same pattern on a tankard, see Frédéric Hitzel and Mireille Jacotin, Iznik: L’aventure d’une collection: Les céramiques ottomanes du musée national de la Renaissance, 2005, p. 126, no. 131.
To the waisted neck of the jug are collars of repeated leaves in cobalt and emerald green and black slanted S-curves. Above these, the smaller field to the trumpet mouth contains
Deaccessioned from the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN Sold by Gimbel’s Hammer Galleries, NYC, circa 1942 From a prominent Philadelphia Collection
21 S T Y L I S E D P I G E O N S A N D F L O R A L S P R AY S
TURKEY (IZNIK), 1600 -1650
blurred vibrant turquoise patches of colour. It was a notoriously difficult oxide to control in firing due to the high lead content in the glaze, and the bleeding can often be seen in Iznik ceramics.
HEIGHT: 23 CM DIAMETER: 14 CM
A polychrome underglaze-painted jug with a design of birds and meandering borders in shades of cobalt blue, emerald green, black and turquoise against a white ground.
Birds have long been a decorative subject matter for Islamic pottery, and stylised doves or pigeons featured heavily in Mamluk era plates and tiles from Egypt and Syria as well as pottery from earlier Persian dynasties. Static birds were a major trend in animal depictions in Iznik pottery, seen mainly in later seventeenth century examples where potters were a lot freer in their designs.
The bulbous globular body has a repeated design of stylised pigeons with emerald green wings and beaks, and cobalt blue bodies. Black lines give an indication of feathers. The birds all face right with necks stretched and eyes wide open. A single stylised rock floats just below the feet, again painted in a shade of emerald green. Scrolling leafy tendrils hanging from above separate each bird.
For a similar example, see Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, 1989, p. 282, pl. 661; and Bernard Rackham, Islamic Pottery and Italian Maiolica, 1959, pl. 83, no. 200. For a plate with a similar design, see Hülya Bilgi, Dance of Fire: Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in the Sadberk Hanim Museum and Ömer M. Koç Collections, 2009, p. 472, no. 308; for a tankard, see Yanni Petsopoulos, Tulips, Arabesques and Turbans, 1982, pl. 101.
The waisted neck of the jug has two collar borders: a repeated pattern of single leaves, alternating in colours of cobalt and green, and above this a further collar of slanted black S-curves. A smaller field of repeated birds decorates the trumpet mouth below a geometric meandering pattern to the rim. Below the main field, a collar of repeated angled black lines sits above the conical foot-rim, plain save for a single horizontal line. An S-shaped handle is attached from the main body to the rim above. The copper oxide used for the emerald green has in this example, bled across the white ground in places, creating
Provenance: Hagop Kevorkian Deaccessioned from the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN Sold by Gimbel’s Hammer Galleries, NYC, circa 1942 From a prominent Philadelphia Collection
22 S A Z L E AV E S , R O S E T T E S A N D C L O U D B A N D S
TURKEY (IZNIK), 1540 -1550 HEIGHT: 10 CM WIDTH: 17 CM
An underglaze-painted border tile in shades of cobalt blue and turquoise against a white ground. The focal point of the tile is a large central rosette, painted with a thick cobalt edge and containing a series of ten cusped petals, their interiors in a slightly lighter shade of cobalt blue. A further lobed cartouche within the petals frames a cusped turquoise rosette with a central round bud. A single arcing serrated saz leaf and a pair of thinner elongated leaves issue forth from the top left and bottom right onto the surrounding white ground, where further smaller cusped rosettes are pierced by larger pairs of saz leaves. The large area of white ground
creates a decorative parallelogram, which is framed to the left and right by split-leaf palmettes and vibrant turquoise borders of white cusped chinoiserie style cloud bands. All four edges of the tile are glazed and slightly rounded, indicating that it is a complete border tile rather than a fragment of something larger. Cobalt and turquoise tiles of the earlier part of the sixteenth century tend, as here, to have a greater naturalism and finer outline drawing than later examples. For a similar design on a hexagonal tile, see Maria Queiroz Ribeiro, Iznik Pottery and Tiles in the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection, 2009, p.112.
23 L O T U S E S A N D F L O R A L S P R AY S
TURKEY (IZNIK), CIRCA 1550 HEIGHT: 17 CM WIDTH: 24.5 CM
An underglaze-painted border tile in shades of cobalt blue and turquoise against a white ground,
depicting a dense stencil-like pattern of spiralling tendrils, rosettes, saz leaves and composite sprays. The thin, rhythmical stems which scroll across the ground are decorated with small cobalt saz leaves, five-petalled rosette sprays with turquoise buds, large composite lotus and aubergine sprays and groups of stylised five-petalled flowers which emanate from large calyxes. The flowers all compete for our attention, jostling within the ground to find their own space. The main field is framed above and below by a thick cobalt and turquoise border. Similar tiles can be seen to the exterior of the Circumcision and Privy Chamber at the Topkapi Palace. For published examples, see Hülya Bilgi, Dance of Fire: Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in the Sadberk Hanim Museum and Ömer M. Koç Collections, 2009, p. 88; and Gönül Öney, Turkish Ceramic Tile Art, 1975, pl. 47.
24 PA L M E T T E B O R D E R
TURKEY (IZNIK), CIRCA 1580 HEIGHT: 14 CM WIDTH: 27.2 CM
which further strengthens the design. Above and below, horizontal borders in turquoise frame the central field.
result of forty years of discriminating
For an identical tile, see Katerina Korre-Zographou, The Iznik Ceramics of the Monastery of the Panaghia Panakhrantou, 2012, p.117, fig. 89.13; for similar tiles in situ at the tomb and shrine of Eyub, Istanbul, see Ahmet Ertuğ and Walter Denny, Gardens of Paradise: 16th Century Turkish Ceramic Tile Decoration, 1998, pp. 111 and 113.
categories of the collection, most notably
collecting from the 1930s onwards. In the mid 1970s part of the Strauss Collection was sold at Christie’s and a number of sale catalogues document some of the principal
An underglaze-painted polychrome border tile in shades of turquoise, emerald green, white and Armenian bole or sealing wax red against a cobalt blue ground, with a design of rhythmical stylised floral sprays. The continuous meander consists of a series of five large stylised composite lotus palmettes connected by arcing leafy tendrils, complete with spotted tulips and serrated saz leaves, which trail across the ground in a flowing S-shaped arabesque. The palmettes all have leaves and buds painted in vibrant emerald green and raised sealing wax red against the crisp white ground. The polychrome floral sprays are set against a thickly painted cobalt ground
Fabergé, Majolica and jewellery. Typical of a connoisseur-collector of his generation, Strauss was also attracted to the unique qualities of Iznik pottery, and with the help of an academic dealer named Dr. Schmidt, he put together a small but important group of Iznik tablewares and tiles, which have remained with his family up to the present day. The Iznik pieces were loaned to an exhibition at The King Faisal Center for
Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh,
The Robert Strauss Collection
Saudi Arabia, in 1985, and some are reproduced in the exhibition catalogue,
Robert Strauss was a discerning collector
The Unity of Islamic Art, 1985, pp. 152-157.
with eclectic taste and an eye for quality. The collection that bears his name was the
Exhibited and Published: The Unity of Islamic Art, An exhibition of Islamic Art at the Islamic Art Gallery, The King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 1985, pp. 156-157, cat. no. 136a.
25 S A Z L E AV E S , C A R T O U C H E S A N D C O M P O S I T E S P R AY S
The other half of the tile, on a dark cobalt blue ground, features various cartouches with an emerald green ground filled with stylised rosettes and tulips, and further large saz leaves and rosettes which issue forth from scrolling vines.
TURKEY (IZNIK), CIRCA 1580 HEIGHT: 27 CM WIDTH: 19 CM
A polychrome underglaze-painted tile in shades of cobalt blue, sealing wax red, white and emerald green, depicting two designs of stylised floral sprays and cartouches set against vibrant cobalt blue and raised red grounds, separated from each other by a thick green line.
For a similar tile which combines both a decorative border as well as part of a much larger main design, see Katerina Korre-Zographou, The Iznik Ceramics of the Monastery of the Panaghia Panakhrantou, 2012, p.103, fig. 56.4.
The integral border to the left has a rich sealing wax red ground, onto which is painted a meandering scene of small tulips, composite sprays and large saz leaves, all with a white ground and green and cobalt details. White tendrils complete with small leaves and buds connect the floral sprays together. The pattern is flanked to the left by a double margin of emerald green and white.
26 PA L M E T T E S , R O S E T T E S A N D S A Z L E AV E S
TURKEY (IZNIK), CIRCA 1575
Vines emerging from the half-lotus blossoms spiral into the centre of the tile where they terminate in two large saz leaves, with the central forms paired up and parallel, curving inwards and incorporating semi-circular rosettes divided into small sections by vibrant red petals. Four contrasting quarter-rosettes float in the corners, each with a different design. The white ground against which the floral forms are presented has a subtle blue hue, giving it a watery translucent finish.
HEIGHT: 25.2 CM WIDTH: 25.5 CM
A polychrome underglaze-painted tile in shades of cobalt blue, turquoise and sealing wax red against a white ground, depicting a crisp symmetrical design of saz leaves at the centre, half composite lotus blossoms on each edge and quarter floral rosettes in each corner, all connected by spiralling vines.
The use of the distinctive raised sealing wax red under a flawless glaze, combined with the vivid cobalt blue of the mature phase of Iznik, allows one to date this tile with some precision. The design draws on the so-called saz leaf style, which reached the height of its popularity between 1570 and 1580. The origins of the style were in a genre already established in the Timurid, Aqqoyunlu and Safavid traditions of Persia, examples of which would have arrived in Istanbul by the second quarter of the sixteenth century. Persian artists skilled in these traditions also came to the Ottoman court, notably Sahkulu (died 1555-1556) who went on to become head of the court atelier in the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566). Sahkulu has been identified as a virtuoso of the saz style “in which stylised chinoiserie lotus leaves are worked up into heavily modelled, intricate compositions with feathery leaves”. ¹
The large overblown lotus flowers seen on the right and left edges each have a demi-lune central bud painted in a vibrant and raised Armenian bole or sealing wax red, surrounded by smaller leaves both cusped and curved in shades of rich cobalt blue with turquoise details. The half-lotus to the top edge of the tile has a contrasting design of spiky serrated petals surrounding a turquoise flower-head with trefoil petals. Small red buds peep out from between the petals. In contrast to the sharpness of these motifs, the half-lotus to the bottom of the tile has radiating layers of smoother, rounder cusped trefoil petals, though spiky Timurid-inspired forms still loom in the form of pointed turquoise buds, red veins like spokes and a small lotus with sharp petals overlaid to the centre. A large saz leaf emanating from the half-lotus on the right edge curves towards the centre of the design, while a smaller saz leaf emerging from the half-lotus at the bottom curls into the lower left corner, the flourish of these saz leaves suggesting decorative finials.
Reference: 1. J. M. Rogers (ed.), Topkapi Saray Museum: Architecture, 1988, p. 32, figs. 62-64.
27 L I L I E S , H YA C I N T H S A N D C O M P O S I T E S P R AY S
TURKEY (IZNIK), EARLY 17TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 24 CM EACH TILE WIDTH: 24 CM EACH TILE
A set of four polychrome underglaze-painted tiles with a stylised floral design in cobalt blue, black, sealing wax red or Armenian bole, emerald green and turquoise against a crisp white ground. From the trailing meanders of interlacing vines that connect the design across the panel sprout the primary flowers of the Ottoman repertoire: overblown composite lotus blossoms, tulips, carnations and hyacinths, with saz leaves dancing in attendance. In each of the two upper tiles, the central field contains large sprays of lilies painted in rich raised red, with cobalt calyxes and emerald green serrated stems. The lilies issue forth from a composite lotus flower to the bottom, filled with smaller five-petalled rosette sprays within an overlaid turquoise cartouche of pomegranate form. Two small single leaves punctuate the ground around the composite lotus. The green stems of the lilies and the blue vines of the lotuses interweave to form a foliate lattice. Blue hyacinths can be seen to the top right and bottom left of each tile, again with emerald stems and leaves. A large spotted tulip appears from the bottom right, painted in sealing wax red with a blue calyx and stem, and accompanied by an undulating emerald green leaf. A large flower with a cobalt stem bends towards
the left of each tile, as if blown by an unseen breeze. This composite lotus blossom has serrated turquoise leaves edged in cobalt blue, with a central eight-petalled rosette with raised red petals that radiate from a five-petalled blue flower-head.
Kitchener was a British Field Marshal and colonial administrator who won fame for his imperial campaigns and later played a central role in the early part of the First World War, although he died halfway through it. In 1898 he won the Battle of Omdurman and secured control of the Sudan, after which he was given the title “Lord Kitchener of Khartoum”.
The two bottom tiles continue the variegated floral pattern with three carnations dominating the field to echo the lilies above; their green stems once again intersect with the blue vines of the lotus flowers. The tips of the hyacinth sprays trail into the top of each lower tile from the tile above, while small bunches of hyacinths quiver from the ground below. A single spotted tulip curls down headfirst into the lower right corner of each bottom tile. Two cobalt overblown lotus blossoms with superimposed turquoise pomegranates filled with petals and buds complete the intoxicating picture of unfading flowers in a garden of eternal springtime. For a tile with a similar design to the two lower tiles, see Hülya Bilgi, Dance of Fire: Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in the Sadberk Hanim Museum and Ömer M. Koç Collections, 2009, p. 210, no. 108.
Provenance: Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC (1850–1916) and thence by descent.
After this, he went to Egypt as British Agent and Consul-General (de facto administrator) before in 1914 becoming Secretary of State for War. His commanding image, appearing on recruiting posters demanding “Your country needs you!” remains recognised and parodied in popular culture to this day.
These tiles were purchased from the great-great-niece of Lord Kitchener. They were formerly used to tile a bathroom in Broome Park in Kent, the family home.
28 S W I R L I N G S A Z L E AV E S
TURKEY (IZNIK), EARLY 17TH CENTURY
Field Marshal and colonial administrator
HEIGHT: 24.5 CM WIDTH: 24.5 CM
and later played a central role in the early
who won fame for his imperial campaigns
part of the First World War, although he died halfway through it. In 1898 he won the Battle of Omdurman and secured control of the
A polychrome underglaze-painted tile with a stylised floral design of saz leaves and composite sprays in shades of cobalt blue, turquoise, sealing wax red and dark green against a white ground.
Sudan, after which he was given the title “Lord Kitchener of Khartoum”. After this, he went to Egypt as British Agent and Consul-General (de facto administrator) before in 1914 becoming Secretary of State for War. His commanding image, appearing on recruiting posters demanding “Your
The spiralling pattern of cobalt coloured vines punctuated by tendrils and small green leaves fills the ground, with each vine terminating in a dark green saz leaf. The pair of large and rhythmical saz leaves to the middle of the tile acts as a focal point, their vibrant green centres filled with small white rosettes with raised sealing wax red buds. Small rosette sprays and larger composite lotus flowers in cobalt and turquoise frame the arabesque vines to all sides.
country needs you!” remains recognised and parodied in popular culture to this day.
This tile was purchased from the great-great-niece of Lord Kitchener. The tile was formerly used to tile a bathroom in Broome Park in Kent, the family home.
Whilst a precise date is uncertain, these tiles were probably made some time in the first half of the seventeenth century, towards the end of Iznik production. The cobalt outline of the design, especially the saz leaves, is thick and lacks the sharpness seen in patterns on earlier Iznik pottery. The emerald green hue prevalent in sixteenth century Iznik wares has also altered here to a darker shade.
Provenance: Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC (1850–1916) and thence by descent. Kitchener was a British
29 C Y P R E S S T R E E , B I R D S A N D F L O R A L S P R AY S
IRAN (SAFAVID), LATE 17TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 112.5 CM WIDTH: 23.2 CM
A vertical panel of five tiles in the cuerda seca technique, painted in cobalt blue, yellow, turquoise, green and aubergine against a white ground. The charming design depicts a large cypress tree surrounded by stylised floral sprays and a variety of birds. A long and thin dark aubergine trunk rises up from the bottom tile, surrounded by multi-coloured chinoiserie rocks from which issue stylised tulip sprays accompanied by variegated leaves and buds. To the left of the cypress tree are long cobalt stems that emerge from rocks below; they twist upwards parallel to the tree, laden with a profusion of tulip-like sprays with multi-coloured petals that fill the white ground. To the top of the panel floats a pair of ducks, resplendent with green and yellow plumage and polychrome wings, framed to all sides by further floral sprays.
The cypress tree is the focal point of the panel, painted with a vibrant green interior containing a single meandering cobalt blue tendril on which sprout rosette sprays with dark aubergine and white petals and yellow centres. The tip of the cypress tree is bifurcated. To the middle of the tree is a large aubergine coloured bird perched on a branch facing right, depicted at the moment it has captured a yellow insect, perhaps a butterfly, for its next meal. Glimpsed on the right edge of the tile panel are parts of further floral sprays. The composition spanning five tiles in a palette using the relatively unusual white ground gives the panel a certain strength and boldness. Elaborate tile compositions such as this were made to decorate garden pavilions and palaces in Iran, most notably Isfahan, the capital of the Safavid empire. Scenes of garden entertainment and hunting provide a window on the luxurious lifestyles of early modern Iran.
30 M O N K E Y S AT P L AY
IRAN (SAFAVID), 17TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 30.7 CM WIDTH: 23.6 CM
A panel of two tiles in the cuerda seca technique with an unusual and charming design of three monkeys at play, painted in vivid shades of turquoise, sharp apple green, brilliant yellow and crisp white with outlines in dark manganese brown against a rich cobalt blue ground. Each of the monkeys wears a collar ruff and knee bands, while two of the monkeys carry poles with which they catapult themselves upwards and prod each other on, indicating that these are trained monkeys and part of an acrobatic troop.
it has bent backwards, the sprung energy of the pole adding to the force propelling the eye towards the turquoise monkey at the centre of the design. The turquoise monkey seems about to scamper up the tree trunk while holding on to the green tail of a fourth monkey which has already disappeared up the tree, prodded by the white monkey to the right of the tile. The sinuously waving tails of the monkeys further add to the sense of excited movement. To the top right corner of the panel are the serrated petals of a flower indicating that just above the monkeys is a branch of the tree.
Exhibited and Published: Simon Ray, Indian &
The design explodes with energy, the scuttling, scampering movements of the monkeys and their obvious pleasure and excitement in their sport brilliantly conveyed. To the left is the turquoise trunk of a tree against which can be seen a yellow monkey flexing a green pole which
Islamic Works of Art, 2002, pp. 56-57, cat. no. 22.
31 ONAGER AND BOW
IRAN (SAFAVID), 17TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 22.5 CM WIDTH: 25 CM
A tile in the cuerda seca technique with a design that depicts part of an exuberant hunting scene with charming anecdotal details. The composition is dominated by the rearing hind legs and swinging tail of a turquoise gur or onager (Asiatic Wild Ass, Equus hemionus) that gallops swiftly through the luxuriantly floriated countryside, jumping over stylised composite blossoms. In the lower right corner is the yellow bow and sleeve of a hunter. To the upper right corner are the legs of a small leaping animal, perhaps a fox or a rabbit. A magnificent flower with two overlapping layers of petals emerges from the base of the tile on a contrastingly thin and delicate stem. The petals of the top layer have rusty ochre edges that frame the white and black centres.
Variegated buds and leaves sprout from behind the flower, dancing in attendance. Another composite flower can be glimpsed in the lower left corner, while to the upper right is a turquoise mound with long-stemmed flowers and polychrome leaves. Small scattered petals and floating leaves have been rustled by the charging animals and hunters in swift pursuit. The design depicts a slice of a larger hunting scene, conveying in essence all the speed, frenzy and giddy excitement of the hunt. A Shiraz painting depicting the great Sasanian king Bahram Gur hunting onagers is illustrated in the 2013 Simon Ray Indian & Islamic Works of Art catalogue, pp. 96-99, cat. no. 36. This shows a larger slice of the action but the details are remarkably consistent, illuminating through comparison the fragmentary glimpse afforded by our tile: the kicking action of the onager and the lack of a saddle revealing that it is a wild ass rather than a horse; the tiny legs above belonging to a fox or hare that scrambles desperately to get out of the way; the exquisite flowers that dot the landscape in which the hunt takes place. It is thus possible that our tile comes from a larger panel depicting the hunting prowess of Bahram Gur.
32 P O M E G R A N AT E S , C A R N AT I O N S A N D T U L I P S P R AY S
SYRIA (DAMASCUS), 17TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 26.8 CM WIDTH: 26.8 CM
A polychrome underglaze-painted tile in vivid shades of cobalt blue, turquoise, aubergine, black and sage green against a crisp white ground, with a symmetrical design of stylised flowers surrounding cusped cartouches. The design is painted with thick black outlines and features a large cusped ogival cartouche with a vibrant turquoise border placed at the bottom of the tile. Within its cobalt blue ground, white interlacing split-leaf palmettes with turquoise accents surround a small trefoil green bud. Various scrolling tendrils and dark aubergine carnations emerge from the cartouche, connecting it with other floral cartouches, rosettes, leaves and sprigs that cover the ground. A large single cobalt tulip placed like a crown directly above the cartouche is framed on
either side by an undulating green leaf filled with delicate turquoise buds. Below the tulip is a pair of luxuriant composite pomegranates that bend toward each other under their own weight. The pomegranates have vibrant turquoise calyxes and blue lobes dotted with turquoise seeds. They are crowned by serrated dark aubergine flowers that together with the tulip above give the foliate elements a heraldic air. The quadrilateral placement of the tulip above the cusped cartouche, flanked by the pomegranates on each side to make a cross formation, adds to the formal rigour of the design. Part of a much bigger panel, this tile would have linked up to further identical examples to create a large lattice of stylised floral sprays. Half cartouches and half flowers placed on the edges of the tile would connect to similar half motifs in adjacent tiles to continue the infinitely repeating design. In the sixteenth century, Damascus became an important Ottoman provincial capital giving rise to new building schemes faced with tile-work. The designs echo Iznik patterns of the same period but are more spontaneous and exuberant, using a slightly different palette, with more emphasis on turquoise and cobalt hues in combination with sage green and aubergine. The shiny, glassy glaze with a fine crackle seen on this tile is characteristic of Damascus.
33 B AT T L E S C E N E S
IRAN (QAJAR, TEHRAN), CIRCA 1880 HEIGHT: 43.5 CM WIDTH: 44 CM
Two large square stone-paste tiles with slight surface moulding, underglaze-painted in shades of turquoise, brown, aubergine, pink, crisp white and pale yellow with black outlines against a cobalt blue ground under a gleaming transparent glaze. The design of each tile shows
turquoise, a pinkish aubergine or brown, some with further decorative floral patterns. The scene is presented as a captured moment, with the protagonists all depicted in mid-movement, rather than statically and formally posed. They all float upon the rich, cobalt blue ground as if each character has been transported by the artist from part of a real life scene to create the pastiche we see before us. Each figure fits together as if part of an elaborate artistic jigsaw, with any
a lively battle scene of soldiers on horseback, framed by borders of meandering split-leaf palmettes. The main field depicts a number of warring Persian soldiers, with most holding embossed rounded shields and long spears or scimitars. All but one are seated upon rearing and bucking white horses with one unfortunate soul lying on the ground, his torso pierced by a jab from the spear of the horseman above him. The soldiers all wear tunics, painted in colours of
space surrounding the figures filled with small stylised floral sprays or trefoil cloud-shaped cartouches containing the names of several of the characters identified in Persian. These include the names of heroes from the Shahnama. The inscriptions on the tile illustrated opposite are as follows. Across the top from left to right, the word “dilawar” is used to describe the three uppermost characters. Dilawar means brave, bold and warlike, so the general meaning can be interpreted as “Hero”. Across the middle from left to right are “Slave soldier”,“Gayumars” and “Kayqobad”, the latter both heroes from the Shahnama. The inscriptions across the bottom read from left to right: “Kazem-e Gazor(?)” and “dilawar baccha” meaning “brave child” or “child hero”. We have not been able to identify the character Kazem within the context of the Shahnama. Reading from the left to right, the inscriptions on the tile illustrated on this page are as follows. Across the top is “dilawar” in both the uppermost cartouches; across the middle is“dilawar shah” or “Hero king” and “Kayqobad”; and across the bottom are “Manuchehr”,“Gayumars “ and “dilawar”. The dense overall patterning of every surface replicates the combination of myriad patterns in Safavid miniatures. Safavid tiles also influenced Qajar artists in their use of floral sprays floating in space around prominent figures or objects. Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Will Kwaitkowski and Adeela Qureshi for their kind reading of the inscriptions.
34 WRITING BOX
SOUTHERN INDIA (VIZAGAPATAM), 1720-1740 HEIGHT: 22.5 CM WIDTH: 69.5 CM DEPTH: 50.5 CM
A rosewood and ivory inlaid writing box with two hinged lids, the sloping front lid functioning as the writing slope on which letters and documents can comfortably be composed and written, opening to reveal a large space for the storage of documents, ink bottles, wax, seals and stationery, and two rows of inner drawers with four drawers above and three drawers below, each with a brass knop handle. The rear lid opens to reveal a single long rectangular compartment suitable for the storage of rolled scrolls, maps and deeds. A cusped brass escutcheon surrounds the keyhole on the front of the box. The ivory inlays are engraved and stained with lac to decorate the rear lid with dense scrolling floral designs and the slope with a row of European style buildings, a chinoiserie pagoda and a British flag on a mast of the type used between 1606 and 1801 without the diagonal cross of red stripes which was added in 1801. Below the row of buildings is a hunting scene with two birds of prey and a Saluki hound chasing a deer in a forest amidst further dense scrolls of vegetation.
Amin Jaffer has kindly observed that this most interesting box displays the earliest ivory inlays with rows of buildings that he has come across from Vizagapatam. These rows of buildings are more typically found on Vizagapatam ivory veneered cabinets from around 1780. The dense scrolling vines point to an early eighteenth century date, but some of the blooms are rather bold and foreshadow future inlaying styles. In conclusion, Jaffer dates the box to circa 1720-1740 and comments that its discovery contributes greatly to our understanding of early Vizagapatam inlay.
Provenance: Private Swedish Collection, acquired by the brother of the owner in the 1960s probably from London where he spent a great deal of his time during this period.
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Amin Jaffer for his expert advice.
35 IRIS CARPET WEIGHT
INDIA (DECCAN, BIDAR), 18TH CENTURY
Examples of mir-e-farsh in the shape of flowers are extremely rare. A set of four similar weights in the Krishnâ Riboud Collection, Paris, is published and illustrated in Mark Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, 1997, pp. 130 and 131, no. 158. These carpet weights, like ours dating to the eighteenth century, have similar drooping petals and a stepped base. They are also published in the catalogue to the exhibition held jointly in 1998 at the Musée des Arts decoratifs, Bordeaux, and the Musée d’Aquitaine, Bordeaux, La Route des Indes: Les Indes et l’Europe: échanges artistiques et héritage commun 1650-1850, p. 135, cat. no. 109. Zebrowski publishes another pair of carpet weights in the Krishnâ Riboud Collection, on p. 132, no. 160 of his book.
HEIGHT: 13.2 CM WIDTH: 11 CM DEPTH: 11 CM
A fine and rare bidri carpet weight in the form of a fully opened iris flower in bloom, with its lower petals hanging languidly towards the earth, as iris flowers do in reality. The iris stands on a stepped square base covered with overlapping petals. Each petal is elegantly decorated with a stylised floral spray with a composite flower resembling a lotus on a tall thin stem flanked by branches bearing serrated leaves, the design outlined by a dotted border. At the pinnacle the weight is surmounted by a finial in the form of a lotus bud. The stepped base is decorated with two friezes of waisted palmette medallions to the side of the step and to the horizontal surface on the edge of the weight. This carpet weight is at once extravagantly rich, touching and delightful, the product of a wonderful imagination.
A set of four carpet weights of iris form is published by Jagdish Mittal in Bidri Ware and Damascene Work in Jagdish & Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, 2011, pp. 126-127, cat. no. 38. Here the iris petals are decorated with a trellis pattern. Besides the two sets of carpet weights in the Krishnâ Riboud Collection, and the single set in the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Collection, there are no other published examples of these rare and splendid mir-e-farsh.
Carpet weights, romantically known as “slaves of the carpet” or mir-e-farsh, were used to hold securely the light cotton and silk summer carpets that provided comfortable seating on marble floors in the hot summer months. Importantly, the carpets were also used to cut the glare of the brilliant light on the white marble floors.
Provenance: The Pierre Jourdan Barry Collection
36 BIDRI HOOKAH BASE
INDIA (DECCAN, BIDAR), MID 18TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 16.5 CM DIAMETER: 16 CM
A bell-shaped hookah base finely inlaid with silver in the bidri technique with an overall design of repeated stars bordered by floral sprays, meanders and arabesques. The hookah with its simple yet elegant design has a flared trumpet mouth and an everted rim to the base. The main field is covered in a diagonal trellis with superimposed crosses at the points of intersection, which together form the eight-pointed stars. According to Susan Stronge, this geometric diaper may indicate a Deccani provenance as twentieth century examples from Bidar continue to use the same pattern in a continuation of an older tradition.1 Framing the star design to the top and bottom are meanders of split-leaves and trefoil flowers within thin borders hatched with tiny squares. To the everted base is a continuous scrolling band of serrated leaves of variegated shapes and sizes, moving fluidly yet compactly filling the ground. This pattern is mirrored above the main field on the shoulder with further bands of lappets, chevrons and single leaves surrounding the protruding collar. Decorating the trumpet mouth is a repeat of the star design seen in the main field. According to Mark Zebrowski, it is believed that the first bell-shaped hookahs were made between 1730
and 1740.2 During the short period towards the end of the first half of the eighteenth century, both the older globular hookah shape and the new flat-bottomed bell-shape were produced and used simultaneously. As proof of the concurrence of competing forms, Zebrowski illustrates two hookah bases with almost identical decoration in Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, 1997: on p. 236, pl. 395 is a bell-shaped hookah and on p. 237, pl. 397 is a hookah of globular form. Zebrowski dates both these hookah bases, undoubtedly the work of the same artisan, to circa 1740. The star design of the present mid eighteenth century bell-shaped hookah may be compared to an early eighteenth century round hookah base illustrated by Zebrowski on p. 235, pl. 394. Formerly in the possession of Spink and Son in London, this globular hookah is decorated with an almost identical overall pattern of silver stars in the main frieze. The hookah sits on its matching ring decorated with the same trellis of stars. The pattern of silver stars can be seen once again in a bell-shaped hookah discussed by Susan Stronge in Bidri Ware: Inlaid Metalwork from India, 1985, pp. 50-52, no. 14. Formerly in Mark Zebrowskiâ€™s collection and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (IS 4-1977), this hookah is decorated with vertical hexagonal panels in which the star pattern alternates with diapers of floral quatrefoils. Stronge dates this complex but crudely worked hookah base to the second half of the eighteenth century.
Completing this brief historical survey demonstrating the continued reappearance over time of the star design on different bidri shapes and vessels, is a nineteenth century ovoid box and cover in the Victoria and Albert Museum (2067-1883 IS), illustrated by Stronge on pp. 68-69, no. 50. Acquired in 1883 by Sir Caspar Purdon Clarke, the Keeper of the Indian Museum in South Kensington and later Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the box is decorated with the star design on both the body and the cover. The technique of bidri ware is thought to have originated in the city of Bidar in the Deccan, which gave its name to this type of inlaid metalwork.3 Bidri is cast from an alloy of which the predominant component is zinc together with small amounts of copper and tin, to which is added varying proportions of lead. The bidri vessels and other objects are then inlaid or overlaid with silver, brass and sometimes gold.4 A mud paste containing sal ammoniac is applied which turns the alloy permanently a rich matte black in contrast to the glittering silver and other metals which are unaffected by the paste.5
References: 1. Susan Stronge, Bidri Ware: Inlaid Metalwork from India, 1985, p. 50. 2. Mark Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze From Mughal India, 1997, p. 236. 3. John Guy and Deborah Swallow (eds.), Arts of India: 1500-1900, 1990, p. 119; Stuart Cary Welch, India: Art and Culture 1300-1900, 1985, p. 322. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid.
TOY SOLDIER WITH RIFLE ON A CAMEL
T O Y S O L D I E R S S E AT E D ON AN ELEPHANT
SOUTH-EASTERN INDIA (VIZAGAPATAM), CIRCA 1795
SOUTH-EASTERN INDIA (VIZAGAPATAM), CIRCA 1795
HEIGHT: 17.7 CM WIDTH: 19.5 CM DEPTH: 4.4 CM
HEIGHT: 24.5 CM WIDTH: 12 CM DEPTH: 6.8 CM
A cast brass toy soldier depicting a turbaned matchlock-man riding a capering camel on a rectangular platform. The matchlock rifle that he carries is vastly exaggerated in size and has a bayonet at the end. On his back he carries a shield with huge bosses; fastened to his saddlecloth are a sword, a bow and a quiver full of arrows. His feet are tucked into stirrups and the rein loops into the nostril of the camel through a nose-ring. Hanging from his belt is a powder horn and a leather bag. He is clearly armed to the teeth with a mightily impressive arsenal. The camel is usually the most sombre of animals but here it prances on the tips of its hooves with balletic grace. The tail of the animated camel flies in the wind as does the loosened point of the soldierâ€™s turban.
This large and impressive cast brass group depicts an elephant driven by a mahout holding an ankus (elephant goad), carrying a grandiloquent officer seated rigidly upright in a howdah with haughty expression and head held high, holding onto the tall pole of an immense tier of four parasols. The pole of massive girth and towering height is ornamented with twisted grooves. The two upper parasols are decorated with floral designs while the two lower parasols have cusped scrolls forming a wave pattern. The square howdah has bulb finials at each corner. The elephant wears a saddlecloth adorned with large bells on each side, a fringed headband and a necklace of smaller bells. Both moustachioed riders sport wide flat turbans and flared skirts pleated with military precision. The elephant walks majestically, swinging its trunk and tail as if on a grand parade. The figures are placed on a rectangular platform above which the elephant lifts its front left leg, ready to take its next choreographed step.
This toy solder has been acquired by the David Collection, Copenhagen.
39 TOY SOLDIER WITH HORSE AND LANCE 41 SOUTH-EASTERN INDIA (VIZAGAPATAM), CIRCA 1795
TOY SOLDIER WITH A BUGLE ON HORSEBACK
HEIGHT: 17 CM WIDTH: 7.8 CM DEPTH: 3.2 CM
SOUTH-EASTERN INDIA (VIZAGAPATAM), CIRCA 1795
HEIGHT: 9 CM WIDTH: 10.7 CM DEPTH: 3.5 CM
TOY SOLDIER WITH HORSE AND LANCE SOUTH-EASTERN INDIA (VIZAGAPATAM), CIRCA 1795
HEIGHT: 18.5 CM WIDTH: 7 CM DEPTH: 3.5 CM
Each of these cast brass toy soldiers is a moustachioed lancer riding a cantering horse on a rectangular platform. He wears a huge hat with a wide brim resembling a sombrero and brandishes a very long spear of exaggerated length. His riding boots are also exaggerated in length and curve dramatically through the stirrups to a point. An immensely thick chunky scarf is looped to swaggering effect around his shoulder and waist, from which a huge sword in a scabbard dangles. All these elements dwarf the horse which nevertheless puts on an impressive display.
A cast brass toy soldier playing an enormous bugle while riding a diminutive horse on a rectangular platform. Seated so rigidly that he is almost upright in his saddle, with his legs extended straight down to the exaggerated curve of his boots in stirrups, he arches back his turbaned head to blow with puffed cheeks into the massive bugle that dwarfs both the musician and the horse. The bugle is as long as the horse with a mouth as big as the man himself, yet he supports the vast tube and bell in the palm of his outstretched hand as though it was weightless. The horse prances on the tips of its back hooves and raises its front left leg as it marches to the rhythms of the trumpet tune. The bugler’s skirt, the saddle and the horse’s mane are all defined by pleats of military precision that verge on the maniacal. This toy solder has been acquired by the David Collection, Copenhagen.
Catalogue no. 39, which depicts the horse with one leg raised, has been acquired by the David Collection, Copenhagen.
TOY SOLDIER OF A C AVA L I E R W I T H S W O R D
TOY SOLDIER OF A C AVA L I E R W I T H S W O R D
SOUTH-EASTERN INDIA (VIZAGAPATAM), CIRCA 1795
SOUTH-EASTERN INDIA (VIZAGAPATAM), CIRCA 1795
HEIGHT: 9.5 CM WIDTH: 8.4 CM DEPTH: 3.9 CM
HEIGHT: 9.4 CM WIDTH: 8 CM DEPTH: 3.9 CM
These two cast brass toy soldiers each depict a moustachioed cavalry man brandishing a large curved sword and wearing a wide-brimmed hat, riding a cantering horse on a rectangular platform. He wears a pleated skirt under a military frock coat with two rows of buttons fastened with toggles, while the horse has a knotted mane and a pair of large beaded straps holding the saddlecloth in place at its rear. Details are delicately cast such as the very fine strands of hair on the mane of the horse swept to one side, through which pass the reins held by the cavalier, disappearing then appearing again. The cavalier’s riding boots, tucked into stirrups, have a long, pointed and greatly exaggerated curve, like that of his sabre.
Examples from this delightful group of toy soldiers can be seen in the collections of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the National Army Museum, London; the Madras Museum; the Madras School of Art; and the Royal Collection at Sandringham House. The seven mounted figures in the Ashmolean result from the gifts of two private donors, A. J. Prior and the eminent scholar Simon Digby, from whose collection all our toy soldiers come. The attribution to Vizagapatam is based on inscriptions on the elephant at the Ashmolean, which has the date of 1795 on its forehead and the name VIZAGAPATAM in Roman capitals on the saddlecloth covering its rump.1 In describing the Ashmolean group, J. C. Harle and Andrew Topsfield observe that unlike Western examples, the toy soldiers are not manufactured uniformly by piece-moulding, but are individually cast by the cire perdue (lost wax) process, thus having a greater variety of detail and expression.2 Even toy soldiers of similar design, like our cavaliers and lancers, differ in many subtle details. With their large hands, squat bodies, enormous weapons and upright bearing, they “graphically illustrate” what Sir George Birdwood terms “the whole gamut of military swagger in man and beast”.3
For Digby and Harle, this Victorian history of the toy soldiers’ origins is unconvincing as they are not Indian in style; they argue instead that the toy soldiers were conceived by a talented though not professional modeller, an English or French officer in Vizagapatam, which had an English factory (trading post) since 1682 and was briefly captured by the French in 1758. The toy soldiers are very skilful caricatures and caricature is not part of the Indian tradition.5 An Indian bronze or brass would have been modelled by the caster and not by a separate designer. The un-Indian rectilinear bases also come from a European tradition. Digby and Harle observe that “the satire is directed at the pretentions of certain military types, their swagger. This is achieved by the posture of the figures and by exaggerating the size of their weapons and certain articles of clothing; this, in turn, makes the figures look smaller and their pompousness more ridiculous”.6
Provenance: The Simon Digby Collection
References: 1. Simon Digby and J. C. Harle, Toy Soldiers and Ceremonial in Post-Mughal India, 1982, pp. 5-6. 2. James C. Harle and Andrew Topsfield,
The history attached to the toy soldiers in the Madras Museum, recorded by the supervisor Edgar Thurston, suggests that the they were commissioned by Raja Timma Jagapati IV (died 1797) of Peddapuram, 80 miles south of Vizagapatam, on the advice of his astrologers for presentation to Brahmins in order to avert his death. Another version of the story relates that the astrologers advised the Raja to review his toy army each day without bloodshed in order to escape his demise. They were supposedly designed by a mysterious artist named Adimurti and cast by two brothers, Virachandracharlu and Viracharlu.4
Catalogue no. 43 has been acquired by the David Collection, Copenhagen. 43
Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum, 1986, p. 67. 3. Ibid., p. 66. The toy soldiers were first described in George Birdwood, The Industrial Arts of India, 1880, p. 162, pls. 20-26. 4. J. C. Harle, “Toy Soldiers” in The Oxford Magazine, 6th February 1970, pp. 136-139, quoting Edgar Thurston, “Brass Manufactures in the Madras Museum” in the Journal of Indian Art and Industry, 1892, and an unissued publication by Thurston. Evidence that model armies were popular with minor nobility is provided by a miniature in Mark Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, 1983, p. 277, fig. 258, depicting a procession of toy soldiers on the raja’s terrace. 5. Harle, 1970, pp. 138-139; Digby and Harle, 1982, pp. 6-7. 6. Ibid.
44 JADE HORSE HEAD DAGGER
INDIA (MUGHAL), 18TH CENTURY LENGTH OF DAGGER: 36.5 CM LENGTH OF HILT: 12 CM WIDTH OF HILT: 5 CM
A finely carved jade dagger (khanjar) with a steel blade. The hilt of delicately mottled, veined and streaked grey jade is superbly carved in the form of a horse’s head, with flaring nostrils, pointed ears, rounded cheeks, slightly open mouth revealing teeth, and the mane swept as if by the wind to the horse’s right. The horse wears a bridle over which trails a lock of hair on its forehead. The mane is combed into seven separate tresses, finely incised in sinuous lines over the changing colours of the jade beneath. The eyes are set with red rubies in gold collets to give the horse a penetrating gaze. The expressive features of the horse and the fine proportions of the dagger admirably convey the power and vitality of the aristocratic animal. The careful modelling of the face reveals the underlying structure of bone and muscle beneath the skin, bringing the horse to life before our very eyes. The grey jade has been carefully chosen and carved with astonishing skill. The subtle shifts in colour from dark to light grey and the delicate marbled effects convey the striations of the horse with great naturalism. The grey shades are tinged with smoky hues of blue and dark green, enhanced by the polished translucence of the jade which seems lit from within. The grip of the hilt is subtly grooved with just perceptible indentations and ridges that provide a comfortable hold. The base of the hilt is carved on each side with a stylised iris flower, with curling petals flanked by cusped
leaves that curl into the quillons. The curved double-edged blade is strengthened by a medial ridge.
centuries, these continued to function as indicators of the highest rank and position at court.2
The earliest reference to a zoomorphic hilt in Mughal art appears in a painting of Jamal Khan Qarawul by Murad, in a royal Mughal album known as the Kevorkian Album in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. This is dated to circa 1610-1615 and published in Stuart Cary Welch et al, The Emperors’ Album: Images of Mughal India, 1987, pp.132-133, cat. no. 26.
Stuart Cary Welch’s close study of the many figures in the Padshahnama reveals that the small number of daggers with animal hilts were reserved for the use of princes such as Dara Shikoh and Shah Shuja.1 The paintings of the imperial Mughal manuscript, now at the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, show that the most common form of dagger worn during the reign of Shah Jahan (1627-1658) was the katar (thrust or push-dagger), followed closely by the khanjar (pistol-grip dagger). Of the khanjars depicted in the manuscript, there are very few examples with animal-head hilts. One of these is a horse-headed dagger tucked into the sash of Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan, in a scene by Balchand entitled “The presentation of Prince Dara Shikoh’s wedding gifts”, folio 72B. This is illustrated in Milo Cleveland Beach and Ebba Koch, King of the World: The Padshahnama, An Imperial Mughal Manuscript from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, 1997, pp. 46-47, plate 14. While the number of daggers with animal hilts increased during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth
Private collection, France, acquired on the French art market in the early 1980s.
References: 1. Stuart Cary Welch, India: Art and Culture 1300-1900, 1985, pp. 257-258. 2. Other horse head daggers from the Mughal period are illustrated in Howard Ricketts and Philippe Missillier, Splendeur des Armes Orientales, 1988, pp. 95-101.
45 GEM-SET JADE BOX
INDIA (MUGHAL), 1780-1800 HEIGHT: 6 CM WIDTH: 13 CM DEPTH: 11.8 CM
A magnificent carved and gem-set jade box and cover of dodecagonal form, the delicately mottled and speckled greyish green nephrite jade carved with ten rectangular facets on the slightly elongated oval form of the body, the closely fitting domed lid with ten tapered facets radiating from a central dodecagon and widening towards the rim of the box. Each facet of the box and cover is inlaid with gold and set with foiled flat-cut and cabochon rubies and emeralds in the kundan technique to form stylised iris flowers, with gem-set leaves and buds dancing in attendance on quivering gold stems. The floral medallion on the top of the lid is set with emeralds, rubies and diamonds to create a radiating wheel of petals that turns clockwise around a central eight-petalled flower-head. Each rectangular panel on the body is decorated with a five-petalled iris flower with ruby petals and an emerald calyx on a gold stem rising from a mound of four leaves. The central flower is flanked on either side by curving stems bearing ruby buds and emerald leaves. A row of five pendant ruby petals forms an apron or canopy at the top of the frame. The meticulous quality of the kundan gold inlay is demonstrated by the elaborately shaped calyx of the iris, which has five cusps to the top and narrows towards the stem
of the flower. This is matched by the quality of the gemstone setting as the emerald has been carved precisely to fit the shape of the surrounding gold collet. Penetrating the base of the red ruby set into the nodding top bud on either side of the iris is the tip of the gold stem. The strips of gold that form the rectangular frame are diagonally hatched. A similar precision and refinement of detail may be observed in the kundan-work on the lid of the box where hatched gold frames surround related iris sprays with cusped, serrated and incised gold collets. The supple, varied and inventive gold settings on this box and cover exemplify the artistic freedom afforded by the kundan technique. Kundan is hyper-purified gold, beaten into narrow strips of foil and refined to the point at which it becomes “tacky” at room temperature.1 At this degree of purity, it forms a molecular bond when pressure is applied by means of steel tools, first used to press the gold foil around the gemstones then to cut, shape and burnish the gold into collets of any form that the artist may wish.2
geometry of the octagon to the smooth line of the circle; the outlines here mediate between sharp and smooth, enlivened by the tensions generated by straight lines mutating into curves. The compression of the circle into an oval and the gentle curve of the domed lid provide even greater visual sophistication. A related early eighteenth century gem-encrusted eight-lobed box and cover with a domed lid and raised central medallion is illustrated in the Spink 1988 exhibition catalogue, Islamic and Hindu Jewellery, pp. 60 and 61, cat. no. 45. A nineteenth century jewelled jade casket with birds in the form of an elongated octagon is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In date the present late eighteenth century box and cover falls between these two stylistically related examples.
Provenance: Private Collection, England, acquired between 1940 and 1952. The jade box and cover is presented in a fitted leather custom-made box inscribed
Gem-set jade boxes of this type were made for ceremonial use at court and usually for the offering of betel-nut (pan) to an honoured guest, as seen in many contemporaneous miniature paintings. This box is unusual in that it is ten-sided rather than octagonal and its symmetrical design is of classic Mughal inspiration, as found in palace architecture, court objects and textiles of the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The many-sided dodecagon forms a deliciously piquant transition from the angular
“By appointment to H.M. The King: The Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Company Ltd., 112 Regent Street, London W.1”. The Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co. Ltd. operated at the above address from 1880 until 1952, when it was amalgamated with Garrard and Co., Crown Jewellers.
References: 1. Manuel Keene with Salam Kaoukji, Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals, 2001, p. 18. 2. Ibid.
46 G E M - S E T R O C K C R Y S TA L C O V E R E D B O W L A N D D I S H
NORTHERN INDIA, EARLY 19TH CENTURY OVERALL HEIGHT: 6 CM HEIGHT OF BOWL AND COVER: 5.5 CM DIAMETER OF BOWL: 6.7 CM DIAMETER OF DISH: 11.2 CM
A carved, polished and gem-set rock crystal covered bowl and dish, the bowl of hemispherical form standing on a short circular foot with everted rim surrounding a concave centre, the separate domed lid with a bud-shaped finial, and the shallow rimless dish standing on a wide, flat circular foot. The bowl, cover and dish are inlaid with gold scrolling tendrils in the kundan technique and set with diamonds, rubies and emeralds within chased gold collets to form flowers, leaves and buds on arabesque vines of gold. The body of the bowl is decorated with a frieze of six-petalled gem-set flowers on a continuous meandering vine of gold. The flowers are set alternately with ruby and emerald petals that radiate from diamond centres. The flowers are accompanied by delicate ruby buds as yet unfurled. Gold leaves and spiky tendrils, sprouting from within the coils and peeping out between flower petals, impart a luxuriant effect of dense growth. The frieze is framed by horizontal bands of gold and a tier of green leaves to the top. The lid is set with four ruby flowers alternating with four emerald flowers on a tightly scrolling vine framed by bands of gold. The bud finial is decorated with a diamond in a circular collet to the top flanked on the shoulder by two petal-shaped diamonds alternating with two petal-shaped emeralds.
The dish is decorated with two contrasting foliate designs. At the centre is an unadorned circle of clear rock crystal on which the foot of the bowl sits. This is demarcated by a ring of gold from which radiate eight quatrefoil floral sprays, the flowers set with alternating emerald and ruby petals. Surrounding this inner ring is an outer band of scrolling gold vines with gem-set flowers, leaves and buds, framed by bands of gold.
A gem-set rock crystal covered bowl of closely related form and decoration, but without a dish, is in the David Collection, Copenhagen. This is illustrated in Kjeld von Folsach, Art from the World of Islam in The David Collection, 2001, p. 238, no. 360. This is dated to the eighteenth century, suggesting the possibility that our very similar bowl and cover may be slightly earlier in date than the early nineteenth century we have assigned.
workshops. These have survived in relatively large numbers, mainly in European church treasuries. While rock crystal objects continued to be produced after the fall of the Fatimids in 1171, these works of art from other periods and regions have not generated the same level of interest amongst scholars and collectors.1 In Mughal India there was a great revival in the art of rock crystal carving. According to Pedro Moura Carvalho, Mughal interest in rock crystal is evident not only from the number of surviving pieces but also in the numerous references to the hardstone in contemporary sources such as Abuâ€™l Fazl.2 Jahangir owned a collection of rock crystal objects from different origins including Europe, where during the late Renaissance hardstone carving reached new heights.3 His treasures included boxes from Europe, a crystal cup supposedly from Iraq which he gave to Shah cAbbas I, and a crystal figure, possibly Chinese, that he received from the king of Bijapur.4 These varied objects stimulated the Mughal craftsmen to new heights of technical virtuosity during the reign of Shah Jahan. The kundan technique for the inlay of gold and gemstones ensured that the applied decoration of objects achieved a similarly high level of craftsmanship and design to match the superb quality of the carving.
References: 1. Pedro Moura Carvalho, Gems and Jewels
Rock crystal is a colourless and transparent form of quartz. It is very much harder and clearer than glass, making it a popular medium for the carving of luxury objects, boxes, vessels and jewellery. Amongst the most celebrated rock crystal objects from the Islamic medieval courts are the exquisite products of the Fatimid
of Mughal India: Jewelled and enamelled objects from the 16th to 20th centuries, 2010, pp. 54-56. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid.
47 WHITE SAPPHIRE AND PEARL NECKLACE
INDIA (BENARES), EARLY 19TH CENTURY LENGTH: 43.2 CM
A gold, enamelled and gem-set necklace consisting of a large floral openwork pendant set with white sapphires, suspended on two triple strands of delicate seed pearls held together by rows of three-petalled motifs set with white sapphires in contiguous gold collets of teardrop form. The pearl strands are spaced on each side by four octagonal medallions set with flower-heads, each with an emerald centre from which radiate twelve white sapphire petals. The openwork pendant has an emerald to the centre in a gold teardrop-shaped collet from which radiate a cluster of variegated leaves, petals and buds set with sapphires on twisting stems of gold. A teardrop emerald hangs from the base of the pendant and to the top further ornament comes
in the form of a large pearl, an inspired decorative touch that visually connects the pendant with the delicate seed pearls in the strands. The reverse is enamelled in pink, blue, green and white with lotus flowers, buds and petals. Every element has been painstakingly enamelled, with the three-petalled motifs each containing a lotus bud on the reverse. The elements of the openwork pendant are convex, giving the effect of a cluster of plump lotus petals that contrast with the flat surfaces of the other elements on the strands. Further embellishment comes in the form of bundles of silver-gilt lace thread that knot together the three intertwining strands of pearls as they terminate. These thread bundles are placed at the ends of the strands near the toggle and just above the pendant where they frame seed pearl clusters.
Provenance: Spink and Son, London Sir Peter Moores CBE , Parbold Hall, Lancashire
48 C E L E B R AT I O N S AT T H E B I R T H O F A P R I N C E
INDIA (MUGHAL), 1595-1600 ASCRIBED IN PART TO DHANRAJ FOLIO: HEIGHT: 35.7 CM WIDTH: 23.7 CM MINIATURE: HEIGHT: 34.5 CM WIDTH: 20.5 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. A folio from the “Third” Akbarnama manuscript. Mounted on an album page most probably dating to the eighteenth century.
Inscribed below in Persian: chireh nami Dhanraj (“principal faces by Dhanraj”) with the number 168 in red to the lower left and on the reverse, “new number 39”. The number 168 in red is the painting number that has survived from the original manuscript before surviving pages of the manuscript were remounted in the eighteenth century. Nothing remains from the reverse of the original folios, but sometimes inscriptions identifying the subjects and the artists were added below on the album pages. Other numbers such as “39” on the verso indicate a new sequence in the album. The Akbarnama of Abu’l Fazl is the biography of the Mughal emperor Akbar and an imperial chronicle of his reign (1556-1605) and that of his father Humayun (1530-1540; 1555-1556). This history of Akbar’s reign was commissioned by the emperor from his close friend Abu’l Fazl ibn Mubarak
(1551-1602) in 1589. There were two presentations of the manuscript, in 1596 when events recorded in the text reached 1572, and in 1598, when Abu’l Fazl had completed it up to date. An atmosphere of great excitement and bustling activity sweeps through this painting of celebrations taking place at the birth of a prince. Over the walls and tents of the palace and its zenana women are dancing to the music of tambourines, while outside in a canopied pavilion astrologers cast the boy’s horoscope with books, charts and an astrolabe. A golden cradle and flower garlands are being delivered. Courtiers rush to and fro bearing drink in long-necked flasks (surahi). Even the red and green velvet swags rustling above the astrologers and the yellow fringe of the zenana canopy seem to dance in the wind. Outside the palace walls, drummers and trumpeters play in triumph as men dance and feast. The door leading into the inner courtyard is festooned with auspicious fruits and leaves. Though the prince is not named, the original number 168 of the illustration allows us to guess with some certainty his identity as Daniyal, Akbar’s third son. If we compare the numbering on paintings of the Akbarnama at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where the birth of Salim is 142 and that of Murad is 146, these
suggest that the birth in our scene is from later in Akbar’s life. Generally where painting numbers can be compared in the two versions, the V & A manuscript has somewhat higher numbers, suggesting a slightly heavier painting cycle, but the birth of Daniyal or other princes does not seem to be recorded in that manuscript. However, two paintings from the present Akbarnama that appeared at auction at Sotheby’s London as lot 54 on 26th April 1991 bear the successive numbers 165 and 166, which are very close in sequence to our 168. According to Linda York Leach, these scenes can be identified as illustrating Akbar’s Gujarati campaign of 1572. Since Daniyal was born in September 1572, he is most probably the prince whose birth this painting celebrates. According to Jerry Losty, Dhanraj, to whom the principal faces on this painting are ascribed, was an individual but not very prolific painter. He is known from a few works in imperial manuscripts from the 1580s into the early Jahangiri period. Where he worked in collaboration, he is normally the designer of the page. He contributed three paintings to the 1590-1593 Baburnama, including the splendid page showing Babur approaching the fort at Gwalior. This is illustrated in J. P. Losty, Indian Book Painting, 1986, p. 20, no. 13. An interesting painting in the 1595 Khamsa of Nizami, on which he collaborated with Farrukh Chela doing the colouring, is illustrated in Barbara Brend, The Emperor Akbar’s Khamsa of Nizami, 1995, p. 15, fig. 9. This shows a similar angled perspective for Shirin entertaining Khusrau in her palace garden and the inscription credits Dhanraj with the
principal faces and all other work; for the inscription see Som Prakash Verma, Mughal Painters and Their Work: A Biographical Survey and Comprehensive Catalogue, 1994, p. 135. Losty suggests that our inscription is perhaps an abbreviation of an inscription similar to that given by Verma. He argues that though the name of the principal artist who drew our composition is not given, the scribe copying the details of the original manuscript could simply have abbreviated Dhanraj’s role and he could in fact be responsible for all aspects of the painting’s design. Dhanraj is always particularly concerned to make meaningful compositions so that his mixtures of face in full and three-quarter profile make structural sense as in his “Akbar welcomes his mother to India”, in the 1602-1603 Akbarnama, illustrated in Linda York Leach, Mughal and Other Paintings in the Chester Beatty Library, 1995, vol. I, p. 249, no. 2.101. The artist has given us an unusual take on this well-worn composition, since the subject seems to have been spread over two folios and we can see only the entrance to the palace zenana rather than the birth itself. Keshav Das’s version in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Akbarnama for the birth of Salim in 1569, illustrated in Gian Carlo Calza, Akbar: The Great Emperor of India, 2012, p. 90, cat. no. 1.1, is from a similarly high viewpoint looking over the walls of the palace into the zenana, but with a more direct perspective leading up to the ladies holding the new-born prince at the top. Keshav Das was followed in this composition by Bhura for the birth of Murad in 1570, illustrated in Susan Stronge, Painting for the Mughal Emperor: The Art of the Book 1550-1560, 2002, p. 51, pl. 34; and by Sur Das Gujarati in “Celebrations at the birth of Timur” in the British
Library’s Akbarnama, published in J. P. Losty, Indian Book Painting, 1986, p. 32, fig. 25. In our painting, instead of the eye being led in a zigzag up through walls and enclosures to the top, we have a strong diagonal line leading the eye from lower left to top right, along the palace wall past the astrologers’ pavilion and on to the screens of the women’s quarters, where it would have crossed the gutter of the manuscript to the actual birth scene at the top of the opposite page. Such a purposeful sense of direction is unusual in Akbari painting.
of the pages lightly tinted rather than highly coloured like that of Akbar’s own copy. It was produced between 1603 and 1605, probably to commemorate the tragic assassination of Abu’l Fazl in 1602. Amongst the paintings are two dated miniatures containing the Ilahi date of the 47th year of Akbar’s reign, corresponding to 1602-1603. According to Leach in her study, “Pages from an Akbarnama”, in Rosemary Crill, Susan Stronge and Andrew Topsfield (eds.), Arts of Mughal India: Studies in Honour of Robert Skelton, 2004, pp. 42-55, the newly discovered third Akbarnama pages are related to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s highly coloured, dynamic illustrations and were probably painted after Akbar’s own series, between 1595 and 1600.
This page is one of at least seventeen miniatures that have recently come to light from an important royal manuscript thought to have belonged to Akbar’s mother, Hamida Banu Begum. Scholars who have studied these paintings, in particular Linda York Leach, have identified the manuscript as a third royal Akbarnama.
Leach convincingly suggests several reasons for identifying the royal family member for whom this Akbarnama was commissioned as Hamida Banu Begum. Firstly, the text is written in the conservative naskh script as opposed to the nastacliq used on the other two copies. Naskh is a script that Hamida is thought to have preferred. From her personal library is a naskh manuscript with her ownership seal, penned for her just before her death. Secondly, a number of scenes centre on women and their activities, depicting them with unusual animation and intimacy as in the present painting, and showing scenes from the zenana that would have appealed to Hamida. These include “Humayun surprising his parents”, illustrated by Leach on p. 42, fig. 1, and discussed on p. 47.
The earliest Akbarnama manuscript is primarily in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, which has 116 miniatures. This first Akbarnama was painted around 1590-1595 and presented to the emperor as Abu’l Fazl was still working on the text. The Victoria and Albert Museum paintings deal with the middle years of Akbar’s reign (1560-1577). Though dateable to 1590 -1595, the paintings are still in the style of the 1580s, full of vigour and excitement. The second illustrated copy of the Akbarnama, commissioned early in the next century with the text brought up to date, is divided between the British Library in London, which owns 39 illustrations, and the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, which has 66 paintings. This second Akbarnama is quite different in style from the first manuscript, more refined and less dynamic, with many
combining all these aspects, is “Festivities at the Wedding of the Emperor Humayun and Hamida Banu Begum” now in the Cynthia Hazen Polsky Collection in New York. With radiant faces painted by Daulat, this is illustrated by Leach on pp. 44-45, figs. 2, 3 and 4; and also by Jerry Losty in Andrew Topsfield (ed.), In the Realm of Gods and Kings: Arts of India, 2004, pp. 372-373, cat. no. 165. Humayun is also depicted majestically in “The Arrival of Humayun in the City of Lahore”, illustrated in the 2009 Simon Ray Indian and Islamic Works of Art catalogue, pp. 56-59, cat. no. 16. A painting in the Khalili Collection of “Bayram Khan doing obeisance before Humayun” is published in Linda York Leach, Paintings from India: The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Vol. VIII, 1998, pp. 50-52, no. 10. A painting depicting “The game of wolf-running in Tabriz”, by Banwari, now in the Cleveland Museum of Art, is illustrated by Leach on p. 46. Leach also illustrates on p. 52, “The supply train crosses the bridge of boats on the Ganges”, attributed to Basawan. Other pages of the manuscript include the first painting from the series to have been exhibited, at Burlington House in London in 1947. Belonging to the Maharaja of Jaipur and now in the City Palace, Jaipur, this is published in Sir Leigh Ashton, The Art of India and Pakistan, 1948, pl. 127 and no. 664. A leaf is in the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore.
Provenance: From a private collection that has been in England since the 1940s.
Finally, several paintings depict her husband Humayun in the context of much greater warmth, tenderness and drama than his portrayals in the other Akbarnamas. One of the finest,
We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice and interpretation of this painting, and for kindly preparing the material we have used for our catalogue description.
49 P R I N C E S A L I M S H A H AT A J H A R O K H A W I N D O W
INDIA (BIJAPUR), 1660-1680 HEIGHT: 20 CM WIDTH: 13.2 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. A small inscription at the base of the portrait in the lower right corner identifies the figure as Prince Salim Shah. The painting is mounted on an album page within a buff border with gold foliate designs. On the verso is a calligraphic panel with two couplets (bayts) from the beginning of the Muqaddimah (Preface) of the Gulistan of Sa‘di: “It is best to a worshipper for his transgressions To offer apologies at the throne of God, Although what is worthy of his dignity No one is able to accomplish”.1 The name of the calligrapher Faqir Kashmiri Al-Katib (the “Poor Kashmiri Scribe”), is written in the lower left corner.2 Near the top of the panel is a later inscription written across the uppermost gold cloud cartouche, which begins “navad” i.e. ninety, but does not continue with “o chahar” as would be expected with the number 94 written beneath. However, the inscription suggests that this was folio 94 in a later album, assembled perhaps in Oudh, which was the destination of several seventeenth century Bijapuri paintings. The painting depicts Prince Salim Shah at a jharokha window. The prince is a handsome youth of around sixteen years old, with just a faint trace of a growing moustache
and beard. He is dressed in a white jama tied on the right side, indicating that he is a Muslim. A green shawl is draped about his shoulders, matching the gold-edged green turban band. Around his neck is a pearl necklace to which is attached a large emerald pendant. He also has a pearl and emerald armlet (bazuband). A small ruby pin fastens the top of his jama. The painting style of the garments and the sensitive treatment of the subject’s features suggest that this painting emerged from Bijapur around 1660 to 1680. The three-quarter profile of the subject is uncommon in Indian painting of this period, and suggests that the artist was familiar with European portraiture. European prints had already begun to appear in India in the late seventeenth century, and were often used as sources of inspiration for Indian artists.
when the album page was assembled may well have thought that the young man was the Mughal prince, Salim. No doubt the painting celebrates his beauty in a manner similar to that of the famous Golconda portrait of a courtesan dating from the last quarter of the seventeenth century, also shown in three-quarter profile and seated at a jharokha balcony. This is published in Mark Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, 1983, p. 206, fig. 179.
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Robert Skelton for his expert advice.
References: 1. Edward Rehatsek (trans.) and W. G. Archer (ed.), The Gulistan or Rose Garden of Sa‘di,
Though we have been unable to find a Prince Salim Shah from the Bijapur family tree, the fact that he is shown at a jharokha does suggest that he is princely person, though the textile-draped balcony rail usual in such pictures is missing. On the other hand, he is holding a pile of fresh pan leaves from the betel vine, used in the preparation of pan supari by wrapping them around a mixture of areca nuts, lime and spices. This raises the possibility that he might not actually be royal, but perhaps the sort of attractive young attendant or courtier in whom members of the nobility with refined aesthetic tastes might be interested. The person who wrote the inscription
1964, p. 57. 2. There is an unpublished example of calligraphy by the same scribe in the Dara Shikoh Album, which appears on the back of a princely portrait dated circa 1635; see Mildred Archer and Toby Falk, Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, 1981, p. 75, no. 68f.17.
50 GUNDA-MALLARA SON OF MEGHA RAGA
INDIA (BILASPUR), 1700-1720 HEIGHT: 21.5 CM WIDTH: 14.8 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. A page from a Ragamala series. Inscribed on the reverse to the top with two lines of takri: raga gundasa 5 megh raga gumbhasa Inscribed below the takri with a line of devanagari: raga gumbhasa megheda putra “Gunda Raga, fifth son of Megha Raga”. Numbered “2486” within a Mandi library cartouche and “60” above. The setting is a grassy glade within an idyllic forest, under the shade of a fruit tree with an exquisitely slender trunk bearing a cascade of red blossoms amidst variegated green
leaves on intertwining stems. A tribal couple, wearing clothes and hats made of leaves, stealthily approach a pair of blackbuck who stand transfixed and rooted to the spot, so alluring is the music of the vina played by the woman who carries the instrument on her shoulder, and hides the bow and arrow of her husband who stands behind.1 The captivated deer look up at her, intently listening to the dulcet melodies, seemingly unaware of the arrows that have already found their mark and drawn blood. Appropriately for a painting depicting a musical mode, the power of music to enchant is made abundantly clear, as is the resourcefulness of the adept hunters.2 As part of the camouflage to blend into the forest, the gourd resonators of the vina are beautifully decorated with a covering of leaves. Harmonious colour chords are created from the dark skin tones of the wife, which echo that of the buck’s hide, and the paler skin of the
husband that complements the light fur of the doe. The dark green leaves of the husband’s costume match the leaves on the vina, while the light green leaves of his cap match his wife’s clothes and headgear. The Chenchus of Andhra, distingushed by their leaf skirts and headdress and the Bhils of central and western India, are the two tribes most frequently depicted in court arts. Their savage ways, costumes and hunting dexterity sufficiently fascinated many Indian court painters and poets, including Kshemakarna, a sixteenth century priest from Rewa upon whose collection of verses classifying musical modes the Pahari Ragamala system is loosely based.3 In stanza 100 of his Ragamala, Kshemakarna describes the sound of Gauda or Gunda-Mallara Ragaputra as that of an unspecified machine. The visual iconography he suggests in verse 95 is that of “A man in the Vindhya mountains, with bow and arrow, his head covered with pisang (plantain) leaves and raffia [or bast fibre]”. 4 The Pahari iconography has crystallised as a pair of leaf-clad hunters entrapping gazelle with the music of a vina.
pp. 110-111, cat. no. 39. Both these paintings share with our miniature the rich chocolate brown background that is the colour of Megha Raga’s family.5 Although in all the miniatures they roam barefoot clad in leaves, they wear courtly jewellery of great refinement and splendour. A Pahari drawing with the standard iconography of two tribals is illustrated in Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, 1973, p. 278, fig. 318. In fig. 319 he shows a lone hunter aiming at deer that he has previously lured with a vina. The lone hunter may be closer to Kshemakarna’s conception, which does not mention a hunting couple, but he is dressed in conventional robes instead of the distinctive leaf costume that adds such charm to any painting in which it appears. For example, Ramayana miniatures depicting Rama’s exile in the forest delight in showing how Rama, Sita and Lakshmana exchange their royal robes for the simple costume of the indigenous people.
Provenance: Mandi Royal Collection
A similar painting from the Basohli-Bilaspur series of circa 1750 in the Berlin Museum of Indian Art is illustrated in Ernst and Rose Leonore Waldschmidt, Miniatures of Musical Inspiration, Part 1: Ragamala Pictures from the Western Himalaya Promontory, 1967, pp. 124-125, no. 30, fig. 16. Unlike our hunters who wear long-sleeved tunics constructed from leaves, here the Bhils have bare torsos, wearing only leaf aprons and conical caps. The plaintive mode Asavari is often also depicted as a tribal beauty wearing a leaf skirt. A Bilaspur Gunda-Mallara of circa 1740, depicting bare-chested hunters shaded by two trees forming a woodland enclosure, is illustrated in John Seyller and Jagdish Mittal, Pahari Paintings in the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, 2014,
Private German Collection The Xavier Guerrand-Hermès Collection, Paris
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Robert Skelton for his expert advice.
References: 1. For a detailed study of nocturnal deer hunting techniques, see Adeela Qureshi, “The tribal hunt from a Mughal perspective and its erotic connotations” in The hunt as metaphor in Mughal Painting (1556-1707), DPhil thesis, vol.1, University of Oxford, 2013, pp. 150-184. 2. For the relationship between music and painting, Ibid., pp. 175-179; Seyller and Mittal, 2014, p. 110. 3. Ibid. 4. Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, 1973, p. 78; Waldschmidt, 1967, pp. 42, 124-125. 5. Seyller and Mittal, 2014, p. 110; Waldschmidt, 1967, p. 125.
51 THE EMPERORS AKBAR, JAHANGIR, SHAH JAHAN A N D A U R A N G Z E B V I S I T I N G T W O H O LY M E N
INDIA (UDAIPUR), LATE 17TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 39 CM WIDTH: 56 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. Inscribed with a poem in Rajasthani Hindi to the top border: duha: sore se seli [ta] ji: turi agare ?lakh: sai tere karane: chhora se lab lakh// 2?// patasya sri surtan memadi sabi// A finely painted and unusual miniature depicting the Mughal emperors Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb visiting two holy men at a shrine. They are accompanied by Mughal princes, courtiers, dignitaries and Rajput chiefs and rulers. The emperor Akbar leads the entourage, who approach the holy men at a natural shrine formed by a group of overhanging rocks, painted to symbolise the opening of a cave in a cliff dotted with trees. Within the cave sits a Hindu ascetic or yogi while outside, dressed in white and wearing a cap, sits cross-legged a Sufi mystic. The Hindu ascetic sits with eyes closed in deepest meditation. The Sufi mystic holds a string of meditation beads in his right hand, and although not depicted speaking, is obviously giving a learned religious discourse to the attentive group of noblemen. Not all the figures in this interesting painting can be identified, but immediately behind Akbar in the top row are Jahangir followed by Shah Jahan as a young man. The figure below Akbar and Jahangir may be identified as Shah Jahan in his old
age, followed by his four sons. The young prince near the Sufi mystic has yet to be identified. Standing respectfully behind the Mughal rulers are the Rajput chiefs and princes with their distinctive turbans and their jamas (robes) tied on the left side.
eweâ€™s head hilt, a white jade horse head hilt (khanjar), a dagger with a scrolling floral hilt (chilanum) and a katar or thrust-dagger. The incident depicted is an imaginary one. Towards the end of the seventeenth century and during the early eighteenth century, the Mewar rulers commissioned paintings and portraits that revealed their interest and fascination with their Mughal adversaries and their lineage. This painting demonstrates Akbarâ€™s widely admired religious tolerance. Akbar was known to have consulted religious leaders and holy men of diverse creeds.
The impressive and dignified man in yellow towards the right of the front row is Maharaja Man Singh of Amber, seen leaning on a staff with his hands clasped as usually seen in many of his portraits. Behind him is probably Chhatar Sal of Bundi. The man in blue at the end of the entourage to the right margin of the painting may be Gaj Singh of Marwar and the man dressed in pink may be Bhagwan Das of Amber.
However, Aurangzeb, here tellingly depicted as a prince and son of Shah Jahan rather than an emperor in his own right in the top row, was famously intolerant, and would not have visited such a shrine. This important painting therefore explores the tension between the Mughals and the Rajputs, and perhaps paints an idyllic and idealistic picture of religious and political co-existence. It is a fascinating document providing much insight into the Rajput mind, allowing the modern viewer to study Mewar attitudes, while the Mewar rulers in turn, by commissioning such a painting, reveal their own study of the Mughals, their fellow Rajputs, and ultimately themselves.
Not surprisingly, though this is a painting from Mewar, one cannot find depicted amongst this splendid group a Maharana of Mewar. The Mewar rulers were always very proud of the fact that they did not fall in with the Mughals. The contrast between the simplicity of the robes of the holy men and the sumptuousness of the courtiers could not be greater. Akbar, seen closest to the meditating ascetic, is dressed in a jama heavily brocaded in gold and tied with a patka (sash) with leafy sprigs. A dagger is tucked into his patka. He wears striped trousers but in accordance with the holiness of the visit does not, like all the other noblemen, wear shoes. The other rulers and nobles are dressed with equal sumptuousness and their colourful costumes, fine jewellery and elaborate patkas and turbans create a great sense of occasion. Of particular note are the wonderful array of dagger hilts, which include a blue carved jade
Provenance: Royal Mewar Library Spink and Son, London
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Robert Skelton and Andrew Topsfield for their expert advice.
52 MAHARANA AMAR SINGH II SMOKING A HOOKAH W I T H R E TA I N E R S O N A W H I T E T E R R A C E
INDIA (UDAIPUR), 1700-1705 HEIGHT: 40.5 CM WIDTH: 36 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper. Inscribed in devanagari with the subject of the painting in the buff border. The inscription states that the painting shows Maharana Amar Singh, son of Jai Singh, with personal attendants (dhikarya) and female singers (pasvan). In this scene of sumptuous refinement, Maharana Amar Singh II (reigned 1698-1710) sits resplendently dressed in a saffron and gold jama
Placed on the floor in front of Amar Singh are small bottles and vessels for wine and condiments, two garlands of flowers and seven single floral sprays, adjuncts to the languid pleasure of the concert on the terrace. Their small delicate shapes and intense colouring make these courtly refinements glow like jewels against the white marble.
(robe) on a white marble terrace smoking a silver hookah, the red tube of the hookah forming a graceful arabesque. Seated next to him is a young son who in this case would most probably be Sangram Singh. Both Amar Singh and the young prince wear katars (thrust-daggers) in their patkas (sashes) as does the third courtier seated to the left. Three courtiers facing Amar Singh on the right complete the semi-circle. Amar Singh and his noblemen hold lotus flowers and buds. The elegant yet relaxed symmetry of the composition continues with two attendants flanking the seated courtiers to the right and left. One of them holds a wine bottle while another stands guard with sword and shield.
To the foreground in the lower right corner are female musicians and singers, accompanying a female dancer elaborately dressed in a male courtierâ€™s attire of a very dark emerald green patka with a design of repeated gold cypress trees and a turban with an aigrette. A seated male drummer accompanies the performance. Contrasting with the cool expanse of white marble and sense of space on the terrace is the dense cluster of variegated trees lining a stretch of water, probably Lake Pichola, just beyond the white marble balustrade composed of jalis pierced with interlacing ogivals in which float white cypress tree motifs. In front of the balustrade are exotic flowers planted formally in cusped medallions of green grass. The balustrade opens enticingly in the centre to reveal the trunk of the central cypress tree and a glimpse of water beyond. Above the line of trees is a magnificent sky with billowing clouds, streaked in gold, silver and shades of crimson against blues and greys to create a spectacular sunset. The painting has a buff border delicately painted with a honeycomb design in grey with gold outlines. This border is framed by a yellow inner margin of yellow and an outer margin of bluish green.
Amar Singh II was a distinguished and discriminating patron of the arts in both architecture and painting and it was during his reign that the distinctive character of Mewar painting was established. Andrew Topsfield has observed that a palace building such as the Sivaprasanna Amar Vilas hall and arcaded courtyard, completed in 1703, is as clear an expression of his refined, hedonistic character as the paintings of his reign, which achieve the same harmonious equipoise between Rajput and Mughal aesthetics.1 The paintings of Amar Singhâ€™s reign are generally small in scale and quiet in expression, intimate portraits of domestic courtly life with an atmosphere of dignified, sensuous ease.2 As with the present painting, the number of figures are generally small, and the palette cool and restrained. A recurrent theme in paintings of the Amar Singh period is water, depicted flowing in water-courses, retained in bathing pools, falling as rain or as here glimpsed beyond the balustrade.3 For a full discussion of Mewar painting under Amar Singh, see Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, pp. 109-140.
Provenance: Royal Mewar Library Spink and Son, London
References: 1. Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, pp. 122-123. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid.
53 R O YA L H A M S A S P I C K P E A R L S F R O M T H E WAT E R ’ S E D G E
INDIA (UDAIPUR), CIRCA 1720 HEIGHT: 24 CM WIDTH: 21.5 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration from a Sakunavali (Book of Omens) series. The Sanskrit inscription in the top yellow column reads: “The attaining of wealth and victory and the gaining of loads of sons, the attaining of fame and glory, [all these] a royal hamsa indicates // 44 //”. Then added in a different hand: “a good omen” and “value 2 [or 11] Rupees”. A high horizon of sloping hills and monsoon skies overlooks an unusual scene. Two white birds, resplendent with pink plumes, pick tiny pearls from the water’s edge. Open oyster shells are scattered across the shallows, tossed by gentle ripples. Flecks of pink and white pigment give the impression of iridescent sand, adding to the aura of magic and mystery that surrounds this intriguing work. To the lower right corner, lotus flowers rise from the murky depths to blossom in triumph, a symbol of purity and good fortune.
The Sakunavali is a Sanskrit treatise on omens. Many such texts, in Sanskrit and Hindi, were kept in the Mewar royal library.1 Divination in its many forms, from dream interpretation to astrology, played an important part in forecasting events at court. Astrologers were consulted on all aspects of personal and public life, such as auspicious times for marriage, travel or military action. It is likely that this series would have been used as a form of bibliomancy (divination by book), where a seeker would ask a question, then select a particular folio from which their answer would be derived. The text gives varying degrees of response from highly auspicious to most unfavourable. A cat crossing one’s path might nullify a journey, while a cricket would guarantee victory in all affairs and success in all undertakings.2
translated as both “swan” and “goose”, it is essentially a bar-headed goose (Anser indicus) that breeds in the lakes of Central Asia and migrates to India during the winter.4 Here the hamsas are depicted in resplendent mythical form: elegant, soft-feathered, long-legged aquatic birds with plumes resembling peacocks or crowned cranes that have the power to separate milk from water and are believed to eat pearls. The hamsa standing on the bank to the left is about to swallow the pearls held in its beak while its companion dances in glee as it wades through the clear shallows. The hamsa plays a prominent role in mythology, religion and literature. In Vedic times it was connected with Surya. The Upanishads saw the hamsa as a symbol of purity, detachment, divine knowledge, cosmic breath (prana) and the highest spiritual accomplishment, because it transcends all limitations: it swims in water, walks on earth and flies in the sky.5 Its name conceals a secret: inverted, hamsa becomes sa-ham meaning “this [am] I”, expressing the oneness of human and divine. In the yogic technique of meditation and breath control, the in-breath sounds like ham and the out-breath like sa. The title of paramahamsa or “supreme swan” is conferred on adepts who have achieved total emancipation from the mundane world of everyday reality.6
According to Andrew Topsfield, this charming Sakunavali series was a unique commission in Udaipur painting. It consisted of almost a hundred pages, graded in progressive categories from evil (asubham; e.g. a burgled house or families of dogs and monkeys) and undesirable (neshta; e.g. a poor man), to good (subham; e.g. cows in a byre), excellent (srestha; e.g. a yogi in a hermitage or a king enthroned) and the best of all (uttamam; e.g. winged gaja-simhas or a pride of lions).3 It is surprising that our hamsas promising wealth, victory, fame, glory and many sons to ensure the royal lineage can only muster a good rating rather than an excellent one, given such auspicious tidings.
In Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, p. 144, fig. 117, he illustrates an impoverished cotton-spinner in a dilapidated hovel. The imaginative choice of subject is the artist’s as the omen predicting prison and disgrace is minimally described as a “poor man”. A haunting image of a beautifully rendered “blighted tree” without leaves is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Provenance: Private German Collection
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice and kind reading of the inscription.
References: 1. Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at
Topsfield observes that the subjects of this series are drawn from everyday experience and rendered with an unaffected directness of experience. Irrespective of connotations of loss, ill health or bad fortune, bad omens are realised as sensitively as the good ones.
The revered hamsa is the most important of all Indian birds and the vahana (vehicle) of Brahma. Though hamsa is often
Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, p. 144. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Anna L. Dallapiccola, Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend, 2002, p. 90. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid.
54 T H E A C H A R YA J A I J A I R A M J I A N D D E V O T E E S LISTENING TO DEVOTIONAL CHANTS INDIA (UDAIPUR), 1740-1750 HEIGHT: 50.5 CM WIDTH: 34.5 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. Inscribed to the top of the red border in Hindi in devanagari: pano bhagat jaijairama ji ro “portrait of the devotee Jaijairam ji” On the verso are Mewar royal inventory inscriptions, written in three stages at the top of the page. The number 52 has been crossed out in red and another inventory number 21/49 added in red. Written in another hand to the right is nam. [for number] and ki. [for kimat or value] Rs 120, followed by the number 843 below. The abbreviation of nam. seems divorced from all the usual Mewar numbering systems. The portly and impressive figure of Jaijairam, dressed only with a wrap around his middle, is seated leaning against a cushion on a white mat placed on a floral floor spread, in front of a large tripoliya (triple gate) arch leading to the garden behind. White blossoms wafting on the breeze sparkle like stars above Jaijairam. Placed on the mat in front of him are adjuncts to meditation: a bowl of cut flowers; a pandan open to reveal fresh betel quids; a chowrie (flywhisk); a backscratcher; water vessels (lotas) and shorter strings of beads. A standing attendant holds a morchal (peacock feather fan) over the acharya as he tells a long string
of prayer beads (rudrakshamala). The figures seated around Jaijairam, including the two priests in front of him, one of whom also holds a long string of beads, are similarly dressed in just wraps or loincloths. They are all intent on listening to the bhajans or devotional chants that the drummers (dholakwalos) and cymbal players (manjirawalos) are chanting in the foreground. The name of the acharya Jaijairam and the tilak marks on all their foreheads, consisting of a vertical yellow U with a red stripe, suggest that the devotees are Ramanandis or worshippers of Rama, one of the largest and most egalitarian sects in India.1 It was founded in the fourteenth or fifteenth century by the saint Ramanada, who preached in simple Hindi and believed that all were equal before God.2 He opposed the caste system, admitting women and people of humble origin into his sect. Although not criticising the Hindu pantheon, he made Rama the centre of his devotional movement as he taught that Rama alone could liberate mankind from the cycle of rebirths.3 Ramanandi ascetics rely upon meditation and strict ascetic practices but also believe that the grace of God is required for them to achieve liberation.4 Distinguished members of the sect include the mystic poetess Mirabai and Tulsidas, the Awadi poet regarded as an incarnation of Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, and celebrated for his Hindi dialect version of the Ramayana, the Ramacharitamanasa.5 According to Jerry Losty, while artistic activity in the reign of Maharana Jagat Singh (1734–1751) is characterised by large scale
paintings of hunts and festivities, there is also a strain of introspective works involving more intimate portrait studies in the last decade of his reign, for example the double portrait of Baba Bharath Singh clothed and half-clothed in the Alvin O. Bellak Collection in Philadelphia. This is published in Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, p. 144, figs. 165-166. The intention may have been to mock this vastly overweight and rebellious thakur, but the artist manages to imbue him with a certain dignity. As in our portrait of Jaijairam, Baba Bharath Singh is painted with more careful attention to the modelling of flesh than was normally the case in Udaipur at this period.
Mughal India: Studies in Honour of Robert Skelton, 2004, pp. 248-263. While these famous named musicians sit decorously in the presence of the Rana, our anonymous priestly musicians vigorously sing and play with an unbridled energy that matches the intense meditation of the devotees.
Provenance: Sotheby’s London, 8th April 1975, lot 116 Private English Collection
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice.
References: 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramanandi _Sampradaya.
Andrew Topsfield has charted the careers of various Mewar court musicians, through their representations on inscribed paintings, in his article “The Kalavants on their Durrie: Portraits of Udaipur Court Musicians, 1680-1730”, in Rosemary Crill, Susan Stronge and Andrew Topsfield (eds.), Arts of
2. Anna L. Dallapiccola, Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend, 2002, p. 162. 3. Ibid. 4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramanandi _Sampradaya. 5. Dallapiccola, 2002, p. 162.
55 MAHARANA RAJ SINGH AND COURTIERS
INDIA (UDAIPUR), CIRCA 1754 HEIGHT: 37.8 CM WIDTH: 28.5 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. Maharana Raj Singh II (reigned 1754-1761) and his courtiers are seated in the courtyard of the Surya Mahal, the hall below the Chini ki Chitrasali or Bari Chitrasali, the palace apartments exotically decorated with blue-and-white tiles of Chinese and Delft origin. At the centre of the Surya Mahal is a flaming nimbus, the symbol of the sun god Surya from whom the Maharanas of Mewar are descended. This is flanked by walls set with frescoed dadoes and multi-coloured glass panels in cusped niches between pillars. Red awnings hang above the nimbus and the glass panels. The open courtyard is laid with two long floral carpets, warmly contrasting with the white marble floor in their luxurious opulence. Raj Singh wears a blue coat
with gold lotus flowers. He is seated on a small white carpet, leaning against a large pink cushion with a smaller red bolster supporting his back. A katar (thrust-dagger) is tucked into his patka (sash). Placed on the carpet in front of him are a sword in a red velvet scabbard and a black shield with gold bosses. Three courtiers are seated in front of Raj Singh and two behind, with a standing attendant bearing a morchal (peacock feather fan). Another courtier stands on the carpet to the foreground. This painting is probably by the artist Sukha who also worked for Raj Singh’s II predecessor, Maharana Jagat Singh II (reigned 1724-1751). Raj Singh ascended to the gaddi (throne) at the tender age of ten, following the death of his father Pratap Singh at twenty-nine after a short reign of only three years
(1751-1754). According to Andrew Topsfield, unlike Pratap Singh, who was well intentioned and mindful of his subjects’ welfare but achieved little because of his very short reign, Raj Singh had a cruel and unattractive nature. He was a ruthless and unpopular ruler and his death at the age of seventeen in 1761 was probably caused by poison.1 In spite of his youth, Raj Singh was a more active patron of painting than his father, especially during the first three years of his reign between 1754 and 1756.2 The works of this period include large palace scenes and tamashas (spectacles), executed with robust panache.3 Two paintings that depict in minute detail the barat processions at Raj Singh’s wedding to the daughter of the Bedla Rao in June 1754 and two weeks later to the granddaughter of the Raja of Gojunda, are described by Topsfield as the outstanding pictures of Raj Singh’s reign.4 These are illustrated in Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, p. 197, fig. 177; and Andrew Topsfield, The City Palace Museum Udaipur: Paintings of Mewar Court Life, 1990, pp. 50-52, no. 15.
The Surya Mahal features in another early painting of 1754 that depicts Raj Singh with ladies in the palace in the rains. This affords a split view of the outer palace courtyard and the inner apartments of the Surya Mahal.5 The Surya Mahal and the Chini ki Chitrasali form the backdrop to another famous Mewar painting from the reign of Maharana Bhim Singh (1778-1828), in which Bhim Singh receives Sir Charles Metcalfe in durbar. This is illustrated in Topsfield, 2002, p. 237, fig. 217.
Provenance: Royal Mewar Library The Maharaja of Bikaner
References: 1. Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, pp. 193-194. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid., pp. 196-197. 5. Ibid., pp. 194 and 196.
56 M A H A R A N A A R I S I N G H I N P R O C E S S I O N W I T H AT T E N D A N T S
INDIA (UDAIPUR), DATED 1761 HEIGHT: 42.3 CM WIDTH: 36.5 CM
Black ink on buff paper with areas of opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver. Inscribed in devanagari on the reverse with the date and subject of the painting, beginning at the top with the Mewar royal inventory numbers written in black and red ink: 75 n(ambar) 316? 3/?0 Followed by three lines describing the scene: maharaja dhiraja maharana-ji shri ar shihi-ji ri surat ro pano ghore kumet? asawar aswari ri sibi ro babat aswari mhethi aamomo? auri jami sanban (i.e. sawan badi?) 3 suttrai samat 1819 ravughe? mhejma? “A leaf (i.e. painted page) of Maharana Ari Singh mounted on (his) horse Kumet on the 3rd of the dark half of Sawan in the year of the (?) era 1819 (?)”. As noted by Andrew Topsfield in his article “The royal paintings inventory at Udaipur” in John Guy (ed.), Indian art and connoisseurship: Essays in honour of Douglas Barret, 1995, p. 192, the inventory head number 3 refers to paintings done during the reign of Ari Singh (1761-1773). The Samvat date of the dark half of the month of Sravana in the year VS 1819 allows us to calculate that the painting was done in August 1761, the first year of Ari Singh’s reign. Maharana Ari Singh is resplendently dressed in a long saffron jama (robe) tied with a gold patka (sash) into which is tucked his ram’s head
dagger. He is seated on a green saddlecloth holding the reins of his richly caparisoned horse Kumet in one hand and waving imperiously with his other. His regal side profile, facing right and warmed by a hint of a smile, is framed by a radiant gold nimbus and adorned by a saffron turban, a black aigrette and a jewelled sarpech (turban ornament). The horse Kumet almost eclipses Ari Singh in splendour, his inky black hide offset by a lavishly braided gold mane and his legs painted saffron above the hooves to match the Rana’s robe. His jewelled bridle is surmounted by a white feather aigrette and a quivering gold chamfron of petal form projects from his forehead. A white plume hanging pendant along the neck echoes the white yak-tail chowries (flywhisks) brandished by two attendants running alongside the horse. Attendants following behind Ari Singh carry his royal insignia on golden poles: a silver honorific parasol and the changi or solar standard, a disc of black felt or ostrich feathers radiating from a gold solar face at the centre symbolising the sun god, Surya, from whom the Maharanas of Mewar are descended. Attendants marching in front of Ari Singh bear guns wrapped in ceremonial textiles and spears embellished with tiered tassels. Several of the attendants have katars (thrust-daggers) tucked into their patkas. The selective flashes of colour and metallic gold and silver sparkle against the contrasting buff ground. The grassy scrub through which they progress is defined by a light greyish green wash and the high horizon of the sky by pale blue scrolling clouds.
Despite his unpopularity and ruthlessness, Ari Singh presided over a period of abundant painting. When depicted in his public persona, Ari Singh appears most often on horseback. During the first two years of his reign, 1761-1762, his artists produced a spate of equestrian procession scenes, showing him mounted on his favourite stallions with an entourage of up to twenty attendants on foot, in the well-worn convention developed under Sangram Singh.1 No doubt Ari Singh was a splendid horseman and wanted his painters to celebrate his riding skills while providing him with a glittering, heroic context in which to be depicted, rather different from the reality of his wilful and ill-tempered character and the meagre achievements of his turbulent rule.
Provenance: Arthur Tooth and Sons Ltd., 31 Bruton Street, London W1, 1974.
Exhibited and Published: Arthur Tooth and Sons Ltd., Indian Paintings from the 17th to 19th centuries, including examples from Rajasthan, the Punjab Hills, Deccan and other areas, 20th November 14th December 1974, catalogue no. 39.
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Robert Skelton for his expert advice and kind reading of the inscriptions.
Reference: 1. Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, p. 199.
57 S A LU K I H O U N D
INDIA (UDAIPUR), DATED 1762 HEIGHT: 48 CM WIDTH: 60.5 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration from an album of canine portraits. Inscribed on the reverse in devanagari: pano ori jama samat 1819 ra duti asadh sud 14 - 15(?) mhe jma kaka bagji he ma (?) huvo The reverse is further inscribed in red with Mewar inventory numbers 23/... and a valuation of 2 Rupees. According to Andrew Topsfield, who kindly read the inscriptions, series 23 in the Mewar royal collection was the one containing studies of birds and animals other than horses and elephants. The inscription gives the date of the painting as 1762, during the reign of Maharana Ari Singh. It seems that Ari Singh, as well as commissioning long illustrated series of the royal elephants and horses, had some portraits made of the royal hunting dogs. War and the chase were of foremost importance to the feudal lords of Rajasthan, so it is natural that portrait albums were produced depicting their prize hunting hounds and war elephants. Dog paintings are comparatively rare. The present hunting hound has a brown and white coat, curving tail, and red collar with gold studs.
Singh may have presented the dog or the picture, or perhaps even both, to Ari Singh. The dog itself is not named in the inscription. Dog portraits are unusual in Indian painting and most come from the Mewar area. A similar royal Mewar dog portrait, “A Saluki Hound with red collar”, was sold at the Sotheby’s London auction of Indian miniatures from the Bachofen von Echt Collection on 29th April 1992, p. 78, lot 38. In the auction catalogue, Indian Miniatures and Company School Paintings: The Collection of Baron and Baroness Bachofen von Echt, 1992, Toby Falk notes that the inscription on the reverse records the entry of the painting into the collection of the Maharanas of Udaipur in the month of Asadha, VS 1819 (June-July, AD 1762). The two paintings are therefore of the same date. They are also roughly the same size and most probably from the same series. A Mewar dog illustrated by Doris Wiener in her catalogue, Indian Miniature Paintings: Tenth Annual Exhibition, 1974, cat. no. 36, is similar in style and size. This is also likely to be from the same series.
According to Falk, the Saluki or Arabian Gazelle Hound is one of the fastest running of all dogs. As a hunting hound it held a special favour with Rajput noblemen, fond as they were of the chase. In spite of Hindu contempt for canines, the dog was always destined to work with the huntsman. Justification of this may be found in the story of the creation of the dog by the god Brahma. When Brahma created the dog, he sent the dog to seek out and serve the greatest creature on earth. The dog first chose the elephant, but dissatisfied his master when his night barking attracted the attention of lions. The dog transferred his allegiance to the lion who in due course made the same complaint, alleging that the dog’s barking gave his position away to the hunter. So, with his newfound wisdom, the dog finally chose the huntsman as the greatest creature on earth and acknowledged him as his master. The hunter allowed the dog to bark without fear of a more powerful creature and to this day, the dog has faithfully served the hunter. Falk illustrates another favourite Mewar dog in the catalogue to an exhibition of animal portraits at Indar Pasricha Fine Arts in London, Elephants of Fame and other
animals in Indian painting, 1987, p. 16, cat. no. 12. Falk ascribes this painting of “A black hunting Saluki” to one of the smaller feudatory states within Mewar rather than the royal workshop at Udaipur. Based on the almost identical measurements to our painting, the Bachofen dog, and the dog published by Wiener, the Pasricha painting may possibly come from the same series made for Ari Singh. However, Falk notes only the Wiener painting for comparison in his Bachofen catalogue entry, so he may have considered this painting to be from a different series. The Pasricha painting differs stylistically from the others in lacking the green patch of grass in the foreground on which the dog stands, and the very high horizon with bands of white cloud and blue sky near the top, seen on the other three dog paintings. A hunting hound accompanied by its keeper appears in a painting in the sub-Mewar style ascribed to Svarupa Rama in the William K. Ehrenfeld Collection. This is published in Daniel J. Ehnbom, Indian Miniatures: The Ehrenfeld Collection, 1985, pp. 122-123, cat. no 55. As in the present painting, the faint pentimento in the Ehrenfeld picture reveals that the artist altered his conception slightly at the tail. The elaborate jewelled chains worn by the hound in the Ehrenfeld picture shows the high value placed on such dogs, the ancestors of modern Afghan and Saluki hounds. Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Andrew Tospfield for his expert advice on this painting.
The second line of the inscription tells us that the picture is associated with an “'Uncle Bagji” [i.e. Bagh Singh, a royal relative]. Bagh
Provenance: Royal Mewar Library Doris Wiener Collection
58 A C R O B AT S A N D W R E S T L E R S
INDIA (DECCAN, HYDERABAD), CIRCA 1760 HEIGHT: 24.2 CM WIDTH: 16 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper. An illustration of Desakhya Ragini from a Ragamala series. This exuberant scene of acrobats and wrestlers takes place on a raised terrace approached by steps leading up from a formal garden of rectangular flower beds. Immaculate plots of emerald green grass framed by marble borders are planted with orderly rows of flowering shrubs; the delicate stylised flowers blend elements of the rose, poppy, iris, daisy and honeysuckle. Bordering the terrace are gold jali balustrades that reflect the shimmering light of the golden sunset above the mauve hills and silver lake. The terrace is covered with a plain maroon carpet on which the athletes vigorously exercise, using various pieces of equipment in their outdoor gymnasium and the carpet itself as a wrestling mat. To the right is a white marble pavilion, with a cusped arch and a dome, presumably the changing room, canteen and storage facility for gym equipment. Desakhya Ragini, the third wife of Hindola Raga is unusual in displaying the only athletic iconography in the Rajasthani tradition of Ragamala painting, though there are several in the Pahari tradition.1 The well-established iconography is always anchored by a piece of ancient Indian gymnastic apparatus, the tapered climbing pole (malla-thambh or malla-stambha) down which the gymnast nimbly slides headfirst.2 Exercising on the pole strengthens the trunk, the vertebral column and the muscles of the abdomen, while
increasing the suppleness, strength and size of the limbs.3 In several depictions of Desakhya Ragini, the figure of the central climber is female, thus personifying the ragini herself. According to Klaus Ebeling who illustrates two Desakhya Raginis in Ragamala Painting, 1973, pp. 62-63, no. C19 and pp. 64-65, no. C20, both with central female climbers, a painter in the early days of Ragamala painting must have depicted, by mistake or by intent, the acrobat climbing the pole upside down and this subsequently became the iconographic rule. It seems more likely that this depiction was intentional as it dramatically increases the difficulty of the task and turns it into an astonishing feat of strength and dexterity, while creating a visually arresting image. As Catherine Glynn observes, the physical prowess displayed by the pole climber is part of the melas or village fairs held throughout India and demonstrates the performer’s ability to elevate themselves high above the spectators, using their strength to defy gravity.4 This strength would be developed by training with the other pieces of equipment that we see. At the foot of the malla-stambha are heavy carved stone wrestler’s weights called nal, the Indian equivalent of western free weights, used to develop arm, shoulder and back strength. They are gripped by the central bar and lifted from the ground with one or
both hands above the head in a slow motion. To the right of the pole stands a wrestler brandishing two clubs made of hard wood, each measuring two feet in length and around twenty pounds in weight. These dowell weights or mugdars are wielded like dumbbells.5 The bow or lezam held by the wrestler on the left is not meant for archery practice as we never see arrows in Desakhya Ragini paintings. The lezam is a stiff bow of bamboo that is bent by a strong iron chain to which a number of small round plates of iron are fixed to increase the weight and make a jingling noise.6 The bow is worked by stretching out the right and left arms alternately to the utmost extent, in the manner of the modern Bullworker isometric device.7
The composition is closely related to the Desakhya Ragini in the Johnson Ragamala of circa 1760 now at the British Library, London. This is illustrated in Toby Falk and Mildred Archer, Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, 1981, pp. 230 and 511, no. 426xix, Johnson Album 37, no. 19. The six athletes are in almost identical positions and the pole, tree and pavilion are similarly placed but the terrace does not have steps leading up as it stretches across the width of the painting and the garden occupies the foreground rather than the lower left corner.
Provenance: Spink and Son, London The Stanley J. Seeger Collection
Exhibited and Published:
While the wrestlers holding the bow and clubs wear long trousers (paijamas), the other athletes including the two wrestlers and the gymnast performing contortionist floor exercises wear short drawers. To the front near the balustrade is a weighted medicine ball for further stunts and strength training. The range of equipment and activities on display including wrestling or kushti, considered a noble art in Mughal times and incorporated into religious texts going back thousands of years, make for a thorough and complete workout. As noted by B. N. Goswamy, the paintings make it clear that the exercises are to be done in a sequence and with undiminished vigour.8
Spink exhibition folder, Indian Miniatures, 1st to 31st October, 1991, cat. no. 8.
References: 1. Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, 1973, p. 62. 2. Ernst and Rose Leonore Waldschmidt, Miniatures of Musical Inspiration in the Collection of the Berlin Museum of Indian Art, Part II: Ragamala Pictures from Northern India and the Deccan, 1971, pp. 99-102, figs. 30-34. 3. Ibid., p. 100. 4. Catherine Glynn, Robert Skelton and Anna L. Dallapiccola, Ragamala: Paintings from India: From the Claudio Moscatelli Collection, 2011, p. 58. 5. Waldschmidt, 1971, pp. 99-100; Glynn, 2011, p. 58. 6. Ibid. 7. Waldschmidt, 1971, pp. 99-100. In their description of the various pieces of equipment the Waldschmidts quote Lord Egerton of Tatton’s Description of Indian and Oriental Armour: With an Introductory Sketch of the Military History of India, 1896, reprinted 1968 with an introduction by H. Russell Robinson, pp. 105 seq. 8. B. N. Goswamy in association with Usha Bhatia, Painted Visions: The Goenka Collection of Indian Paintings, 1999, p. 144.
59 T H E D E AT H O F T H E D E M O N P R A L A M B A
INDIA (BILASPUR), 1770-1780 HEIGHT: 31.3 CM WIDTH: 38.7 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration from a Bhagavata Purana series. With his head coming to rest against an outcrop of craggy rocks, his eyes closed and his face contorted with the agony of death throes, a demon in the lower right vomits blood as cowherd boys led by Balarama beat his fallen body with sticks. Krishna watches from the left, seated under a tree in regal repose as he leans against a large white bolster-like cow, its legs tucked under the body like a resting Nandi bull. Krishna wears a striped yellow robe and shawl, a long garland of flowers and a peacock crown. Balarama and the gopas (cowherds) are dressed in short drawers tied with floral patkas (sashes). Other cows and calves stand placidly by, rooted in paralysis, or run away in fear, panicked by the sudden turn of events and the demon’s terrifying appearance. Some of the cows have unusual colours and patterns that heighten the
emotional charge of the scene: a yellow cow with a spotted hide like a leopard, and cows with swirling blue, black and white marbling streaked with gold. The scene takes place in a wooded riverbank shaded by ancient trees with clustered leaves, gnarled or stumpy trunks and zigzag moss-covered roots. A river with a zigzag bank cuts across the right foreground. Puffs of cloud streaked with gold roll through the blue sky.
seizing Krishna and Balarama. Although Krishna knows who the demon really is, he welcomes him into their fellowship, all the while considering how to exterminate him. He divides the gopas into two teams, one led by him and the other by Balarama, and organises games in which the losers must carry the winners on their backs. Pralamba joins Krishna’s side; they lose and have to carry Balarama’s victorious team.3
Without an inscription, it is difficult to identify precisely the incident from Krishna’s life that this painting depicts yet the forest setting and the vomiting of blood by the demon fit in well with the death of Pralamba, who is killed by a powerful blow from Balarama as the cowherds play in the forest (Bhagavata Purana, Book X, chapter 18). The incident takes place at the height of summer. To escape the intense heat, Krishna, Balarama and the gopas bring their herd to the forest. Because of the special features of Vrindavan, the forest always exhibits the qualities of spring.1 There are abundant pastures shaded by trees and cooled by spray from waterfalls and breezes from the waves of brooks and streams. Here the boys play games that include hide and seek, leap-frog, blind man’s bluff and piggyback.2
Pralamba takes Balarama and spirits him far beyond the perimeter of the grazing herd. In response to his abduction, Balarama begins to increase his weight till it equals that of Mount Meru, making it impossible for Pralamba to proceed any further. Pralamba’s disguise collapses under the strain and he reveals his true form, with blazing eyes, furrowed brow, ferocious teeth and hair of fire, glittering with gold and jewels. As he begins to ascend into the sky, Balarama strikes him with a shattering blow to the head and the demon falls to earth with a terrifying roar, vomits blood, falls unconscious and dies.4
A demon named Pralamba assumes the guise of a cowherd and joins the group with the intention of
The Bhagavata Purana series to which this picture belongs was once owned by the family of a Bilaspur nobleman, Thakur Ishwari Singh Chandela, later a resident of Udaipur, who sold most of the pictures to the Russian painter and collector, Svetoslav Roerich. Chandela states on the basis of family tradition that the series is the work of Bilaspur painters at Bilaspur.5 Two sequential paintings from the series, depicting similar scenes of cows grazing in the forest and Krishna killing the crane demon Bakasura, are published in W. G. Archer, Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, 1973, vol. I, pp. 241-242, Kahlur (Bilaspur) 46(i-ii); vol. II, pp. 188-189, pls. 46(i-ii). The present painting, which belonged to Dr. William K. Ehrenfeld, is published in
Daniel J. Ehnbom, Indian Miniatures: The Ehrenfeld Collection, 1985, pp. 216-217, cat. no. 107. Our painting and the crane demon scenes published by Archer share numerous stylistic affinities that link them to each other, and the whole series to the Bilaspur tradition. Archer notes the inclusion of brindled and dotted cows; figures with square-shaped heads and large pupils set in the corner of the eyes; the zigzag treatment of the water; trees with dramatically gouged-out holes; all set against pale blue skies and landscapes dominated by olive brown tones. He further notes the preference for hard brusque forms and clear narrative statements.6 Archer also points out the strong influence of mid eighteenth century Mewar painting, seen in the angular river banks; the sombre colours used for the background; the stiff explosive movement of the figures with jerky rhythms; and the landscape conventions, in particular clusters of leaves like the clawing fingers of a hand, which can be seen to the lower left corner of our painting.7 Archer, sensing a far stronger Mewar influence on this series than in other Bilaspur miniatures, theorises that a Bhagavata Purana series may have been borrowed from Mewar as a model during a period of strained relations between Bilaspur and Kangra, where the Krishna cult had long been deeply rooted.8 Ehnbom acknowledges the evident similarities but argues that it is difficult to assess their true meaning. He suggests that the independent development of common sources may account for the similarities, or the affinities may simply be coincidental. Conventions that reappear in different styles and periods of Indian painting do not necessarily indicate direct contact between separate idioms.9 Though the underlying stylistic influences may ultimately elude the analysis of scholars and must remain conjectural, the resultant vitality and distinctiveness of this splendid Bhagavata Purana series cannot be denied.
1986. The opening presentation of the
The William K. Ehrenfeld Collection
exhibition was held at the California Palace
of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Exhibited and Published:
4. Ibid. 5. W. G. Archer, Indian Paintings from the
Daniel J. Ehnbom, with essays by Robert
Skelton and Pramod Chandra, Indian
1. B. N. Goswamy and Anna L. Dallapiccola,
Miniatures: The Ehrenfeld Collection, 1985,
Krishna the Divine Lover: Myth and Legend
pp. 216-217, cat. no. 107. This is the catalogue
through Indian Art, 1982, pp. 75-76; Edwin F.
for the exhibition organised by the American
Bryant (trans.), Krishna: The Beautiful Legend of
9. Daniel J. Ehnbom, Indian Miniatures: The
Federation of Arts as part of the â€œFestival of
God (Srimad Bhagavata Purana, Book X), 2003,
Ehrenfeld Collection, 1985, p. 216.
Indiaâ€? in the United States during 1985 and
chapter 18, pp. 91-94.
Punjab Hills, 1973, vol. I, pp. 241-242.
60 N O B L E M A N O N A C O M P O S I T E H O R S E A C C O M PA N I E D B Y A N G E L S
INDIA (JAIPUR), 1780 -1800 HEIGHT: 22.8 CM WIDTH: 30.5 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. Inscribed in naskh on the verso: “Picture of mortoon [murtun?], magic/bewitched, [value] 300 Rupees”. The inscription is unclear and possibly in Urdu. The related Sanskrit word murtti or murti means a solid body, visible shape, embodiment or figure, so the gist of the meaning seems to be “a picture of a magical form”. It is indeed a fantastical dreamlike scene that unfurls before our eyes. A nobleman is seated on a fabulous composite horse made up of a seemingly endless variety of tightly interlocking, overlapping animals, birds and fish of all shapes, sizes and colours. The myriad creatures of land, sea and air vigorously attack or affectionately snuggle into each other, devouring or spewing forth other species that continuously disgorge yet more animals to fill every nook and cranny of the horse. The animal jigsaw ingeniously constructs the calm and stately outlines of the horse as it canters majestically in procession, unperturbed by the seething, writhing menagerie contained within, clustered and compacted together as if by a magic spell. The head of the horse is made up of a lion grasping a gazelle in its jaws, with a pair of fish for its ears and a swooping bird forming its aigrette. The twisting gazelle tries in vain to escape the lion’s clutches and its wide eye petrified in fear transforms into the imperious gaze of the horse. The snout of the horse is a rabbit while its lower jaw and tongue are formed by a camel. The knotted mane of the horse reveals itself on closer inspection to be a row of red birds with yellow wings. The tail of
the horse is a single large bird of consummate elegance, its rump outlined by a long eel. Its cantering legs are chains of animals terminating in baby canines seated on hooves made of black rams’ heads. Contained within the body of the horse is a kaleidoscope of further zoological wonders: tigers, lions, bears, antelopes, wild boars, a painted Saluki hound, a tapir or mongoose, a cow with jangling bells, a monkey holding its child and a camel on which are seated two doll-like priests. The chevron band that holds the saddlecloth in place is composed of fish with silvery scales. The nobleman is accompanied by two mythical winged female figures. Seated on the horse is his bejewelled consort, a Hindu apsaras (celestial beauty or dancer) whom he embraces with intertwined limbs as they share the intimate space of the saddlecloth. He places his left arm over her shoulder to tenderly hold her wrist and draw her close. In her elegant hennaed fingers she holds two betel leaves, choice delicacies for their journey. With her right arm she cuddles him snugly along the back, her fingers emerging from his armpit to tenderly stroke his nipple through his diaphanous shirt. The dancing figure that leads the horse is a Muslim peri or angel with baroque hair holding a surahi (long-necked flask) and a gold wine cup. The nobleman wears the distinctive flat Jaipur turban with top knot fashionable during the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh (1778-1803). The iconography of the peri probably came from Lucknow, which had a considerable influence on Jaipur painting around 1800. For a discussion of the history and typology of composite animal paintings, illustrated with several celebrated examples, see Robert J. Del Bonta, “Reinventing Nature: Mughal Composite Animal Painting” in Som Prakash Verma (ed.), Flora and Fauna in Mughal Art, 1999, pp. 69-82. A famous circa 1600 Mughal elephant with menacing demon mahout and attendants in the Edwin Binney, 3rd
Collection at the San Diego Museum of Art, is published in B. N. Goswamy and Caron Smith, Domains of Wonder: Selected Masterpieces of Indian Painting, 2005, pp. 134-135, cat. no. 51. Another composite elephant, also from the late Akbar period and accompanied by demons, is illustrated in Daniel J. Ehnbom, Indian Miniatures: The Ehrenfeld Collection, 1985, pp. 38-39, cat. no. 9. The authors above all discuss the sources and symbolic significance of composite animals which remain a matter of much speculation. Though it is generally thought that composite subjects are Persian in origin, the exact meaning of the genre is obscure. It became popular in Mughal India in the eighteenth century and by the nineteenth century Europeans were eager patrons of such subjects, doubtless drawn by their Arcimboldo-like strangeness. Del Bonta observes that though the “animal style” of ancient Luristan is mentioned as a possible source, the gap in time is very wide and the way the animal parts relate is different from the Indian examples, which are organically linked and form a recognisable animal. Closer in time to the Mughal composites is a colossal sixteenth century sculpture
excavated at Tala in Madhya Pradesh but without intervening images to bridge this single carving and the plethora of later pictures, the wide difference in time and space would rule out any stylistic or conceptual connection. Composite animals such as the vyala or ihamriga, makara and sardula, even Ganesha himself, have always been part of the Indian imagination and thus are essential components of the source material, as are performing traditions like the nava-nari-kunjara, an elephant made up of nine interlocking female acrobats.
Provenance: Private South African Collection
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice.
61 ENCOUNTER IN A GARDEN
INDIA (GULER), 1760-1770 FOLIO: HEIGHT: 27.5 CM WIDTH: 19.5 CM MINIATURE: HEIGHT: 21.5 CM WIDTH: 15.2 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. In this exquisite painting, a woman carrying a basket on her head stands watching a young man who sits operating a Persian wheel from his seat on the contraption. He is guiding a pair of oxen to walk round and round in a circle thereby working the shafts and wheels which draw up water from a well to irrigate the flower garden. In the foreground, a gardener holding a mattock over his shoulder stands on a path in the midst of the rectangular flower beds containing orange poppies and other white and lavender flowers. Dominating the left half of the composition is a large sal tree with its light green leaves, each leaf separately depicted. At the rear is a row of dark trees laden with creepers in full flower, the profuse blossoms alternately pink and white. According to Jerry Losty, this method of showing trees is something of a Guler trademark and can be seen in Guler paintings illustrated in W. G. Archer, Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, 1973, vol. I, pp. 158, 159 and 162, Guler nos. 42, 44 and 54; vol. II, pp. 110 and 114, pls. 42, 44 and 54. The Guler painting illustrated by Archer on p. 110, pl. 44 of vol. II, is
an almost identical version of this painting, which is now at the British Museum in London. Archer remarks in vol. I, p. 159, that the structure of the British Museum painting “involves a total rejection of depth, perspective and recession and is strongly affirmative of the Guler principles of composition in terms of angular geometry and single flat planes”. Archer also draws attention to the composition being similar to the romantic first encounter of Krishna and Radha in a bucolic “meeting of the eyes”, the girl with the basket being substituted for the two gopis (cow-girls) and the youth on the Persian wheel for Krishna. Losty observes that though the young man is depicted smaller and meant to be further away, their eyes are level when viewed in two dimensions across the picture plane. In support of this romantic interpretation is a pair of Sarus cranes, symbols of love, that swoop and dive in the sky above. Another symbol of love is the entwining of the creepers and the trees, so close as to meld into one. At the same time, the painting is also a rare depiction of daily life in the Punjab Hills as lived by the villagers as opposed to the ruling elite and the religious and poetical texts they favoured for illustration. Like the British Museum painting described by Archer, our picture is “executed with elegant delicacy, supple grace and innocent nobility”. The painting also resonates with a famous love story told in a folk song from the Kangra valley. This
is recounted by M. S. Randhawa in Kangra Ragamala Paintings, 1971, pp. 58-59, pl. XVII, where Randhawa shows how the iconography of the song relates to a Kangra illustration of Kumbha Raga: “The village well is a meeting place of lovers…[and] reminds one of the folk song from Kangra in which the accidental meeting of a husband and wife at a well is described. The soldier, after his marriage to a young girl, had been away on service for many years. On his return he pays a visit to his father-in-law’s village to fetch his wife. He meets a young woman at a well and asks her for a draught of water. When he tries to be intimate and pays compliments to her beauty, she feels annoyed and severely rebukes him. When she returns home, her mother asks her to put on her ornaments and her best clothes, for her husband had come. She dresses up and goes to meet him and discovers that he was the same person who met her at the well. He reminds her of the harsh words she spoke to him at the well. A reconciliation follows and they live happily ever afterwards as husband and wife”.
Provenance: The Carter Burden Collection, New York
Published: Sotheby’s, The Carter Burden Collection of Indian Paintings, New York, 27th March 1991, lot 52.
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice.
62 MAHARAJA BHUP SINGH SMOKING A HOOKAH
INDIA (GULER), CIRCA 1810 HEIGHT: 23.8 CM WIDTH: 16.8 CM
Opaque watercolour on paper. Inscribed on the reverse in takri:
Standing behind him is a courtier dressed in green holding a chowrie (flywhisk) and a black shield. Both men have swords, the talwars (hilts) peeping out from the velvet scabbards in which they are sheathed. The terrace is bordered by a low white marble jali balustrade and in the background is a tree with delicate floral blossoms.
sri ra (ja) guleria bup si(n)gh Maharaja Bhup Singh of Guler (reigned 1790-1826) is seated facing right on a crimson basket stool with a white floral cushion placed on a terrace covered with a yellow floor spread. He smokes a hookah placed on a circular mat at his feet, holding the large cloth-covered gold-tipped monal (mouthpiece) in his left hand and the coil of the hookah tube in his right. Bhup Singh is dressed simply in a white jama tied with a yellow checked patka (sash) over striped paijamas (trousers) and wears a lilac turban. He sports a moustache and a light beard and seems around thirty or thirty-five years in age at the time of this portrait.
Maharaja Bhup Singh is the subject of a celebrated painting, “Bhup Singh with his Rani under a quilt”, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. This intimate scene with no attendants, dating to circa 1795-1800, shows Bhup Singh as a young man of around twenty-five with a wispy moustache and faint beard, smoking his hookah and cuddling his rani. It has been published in several books and exhibition catalogues including Vishakha N. Desai, Life at Court: Art for India’s Rulers, 16th-19th Centuries, 1985, pp. 92 and 94, no. 75 and on the front cover. Desai suggests that the numerous paintings of Bhup Singh in amorous settings may be a reliable gauge of his temperament, indicating that affairs of the heart prevailed consistently over affairs of state.1 Guler was one of the most powerful kingdoms in the Punjab Hills in the early 1700s but by the end of the eighteenth century became a tributary of neighbouring Kangra until 1805. Bhup Singh attempted to gain independence for Guler by joining a conspiracy of Hill states to overthrow the tyrannical Sansar Chand.2 He encouraged Bilaspur to invade Kangra with the help of the Gurkhas but all efforts were unsuccessful in the face of Sikh insurgency in the Punjab.3 The Gurkhas were repulsed and in 1809, Kangra and all the Hill states came under Sikh supremacy. Desa Singh Majithia was installed as Sikh Governor of the Kangra Hills with
headquarters at Kangra Fort. Guler became a Sikh tributary and Bhup Singh was required to attend the Sikh court at Lahore.4 In 1813 Bhup Singh was arrested by Ranjit Singh in Lahore, possibly due to a default in paying tribute. Guler was occupied by troops under Desa Singh Majithia, and then annexed by the Sikhs who ruled until 1849 when Guler became part of the British district of Kangra.5 Several paintings of Bhup Singh at different ages that allow us to chart the changes in his appearance, from young boy with his mother the Chamba Rani to full-bearded man aged about forty with his own daughter and ranis, are illustrated in W. G. Archer, Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, 1973, vol. 1, pp. 162-164, Guler 55, 57-59 and 62; vol. 2, pp. 114-117, pls. 55, 57-59 and 62. A painting of Bhup Singh with courtiers illustrated by Archer in pl. 64 shows him aged around forty with a much fuller beard than in the present painting but similarly seated on a round basket stool, which Archer suggests is a local Guler fashion. The basket stool is also seen in a painting of Bhup Singh holding a falcon in the Edwin Binney, 3rd Collection at the San Diego Museum of Art.
Provenance: Maggs Bros. Ltd., London, 1972 The Paul Nicholls Collection, purchased by the owner from Maggs on 8th June 1973.
Published: Maggs Bros. Ltd., Oriental Miniatures & Illumination, Bulletin No. 20, Vol. VI, part 2, p. 102, no. 153.
References: 1. Vishakha N. Desai, Life at Court: Art for India’s Rulers, 16th-19th Centuries, 1985, p. 92. 2. Ibid. 3. W. G. Archer, Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, 1973, vol. 1, p. 129. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid.
63 S H I VA A N D PA R VAT I B E H I N D T H E B U L L N A N D I
INDIA (GULER), 1800-1820 FOLIO: HEIGHT: 27.6 CM WIDTH: 22.5 CM MINIATURE: HEIGHT: 20.3 WIDTH: 15 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. In this tender and affectionate family scene, Shiva stands leaning with his elbows on the back of his bull, Nandi, cradling his chin in his hands and nonchalantly resting the toes of his right foot on the bridge of his left. A crescent moon floats on his trailing locks above the third eye on his forehead, a snake coils languidly around his neck and shoulders, and a golden nimbus radiates from his head. His crescent earring echoes the silvery lunar curve that shimmers above. Shiva gazes pensively at the fruit of the datura plant (Datura metel) brought by his wife, Parvati, whose long red veil and blue dress trimmed with gold are all but hidden behind Nandi bull. Nandi turns his head in order to groom himself while looking up at Shiva. Both Nandi and Parvati
smile gently as they gaze with adoration at Shiva. The figures stand in a green meadow with delicate flowers in the foreground, under rolling clouds streaked with crimson rays in the sky above. The painting is framed by an inner border of blue with gold and silver foliate scrolls, and a wide pink outer border decorated with a lattice of painted birds and thirty Shivalingams on each of which rests a white datura flower. The holy family of Shiva was a favourite theme of Pahari painters, but only one other example showing this unusual treatment with the gods standing behind the bull is known.1 Representations of Shiva, Parvati and Nandi are relatively common but the divine couple usually stands in front of Nandi. They are also frequently depicted as part of the extended family group, resting in the countryside with their sons Ganesha and Skanda and their vahanas (mounts) the mouse and the peacock. The fruits and flowers of the Indian Thorn Apple (Datura metel) depicted in this painting and its border have ancient associations with Shiva and his rituals while its medicinal use dates back over three thousand years.2 It was first documented in Sanskrit literature. The Arabic physician Avicenna touted the importance of its medicinal
applications and prescribed the exact amount of its dosage as ingesting too much can be dangerous, even lethal. As can been seen the fruit offered by Parvati has stout soft prickles, hence its common name of Thorn Apple. It contains seeds with narcotic and hallucinogenic properties which are used by sadhus as an adjunct in Shiva puja. Though toxic when overdosed, in the correct prescribed amounts datura can alleviate asthma, chronic bronchitis, pain, seizures and coma when used with extreme caution by skilled Ayurvedic practitioners.3 Crushed datura seeds are also an aphrodisiac.
were offered to the god Yogashwara (Shiva) on the thirteenth day of the waxing moon in January. In Nepal, datura flowers and fruits are the most important gifts of the Newari tribe to appease Shiva during puja. In Varanasi, favourite city of Lord Shiva, datura garlands are draped around the yoni while fresh datura flowers are strewn on top of the lingam. 7 The datura flower is prominently displayed in Shiva’s hair in a number of his aspects.8
Provenance: The Shiv Kumar Chirimar Collection, Amsterdam
The flowers are trumpet-shaped, giving rise to the popular names angel’s trumpet or devil’s trumpet. They open in the evening to emit a rich luscious fragrance. The plant produces double or triple blossoms that grow within the main bloom creating layered blossoms.4
Exhibited and Published: Armand Neven, Peintures des Indes: Mythologies et légendes, Studio du Passage Quarante-quatre, Brussels, 1976, p. 60, cat. no.184; Joachim Bautze, Indian Miniature Paintings: c.1590 - c. 1850, 1987, Galerie Saundarya Lahari, Amsterdam, 1987, pp. 129-130, cat. no. 57.
The origins of the Indian Thorn Apple are disputed by botanists and scholars. It may have been imported into India from the west, either Greece or the region of the Caspian Sea.5 Some believe its origins to be Latin American but the mention of da dhu ra in ancient Tibetan and Mongolian texts that are translations of the pre-eleventh century Vajramahabhairava-tantra demonstrates that it was indigenous to Asia prior to the fifteenth century and pre-Columbian in date.6
References: 1. Joachim Bautze, Indian Miniature Paintings: c.1590 - c. 1850, 1987, p. 129. The second example referred to by Bautze appears in Sotheby’s, 24th April 1979, lot 132, on p. 57. It is considerably later and replaces the delicate flowers of the present painting with a datura field. 2. Mahakant Jha and Ramesh Kumar Pandey, “Datura Metel L. A Potential Genus for Medicinal Uses”, in The Socioscan: An International Journal of Ethno and Social Sciences, 3(1&2), 2011, pp. 21-24, www.socioscan.org; Christian Rätsch,
The datura plant is often depicted in Hindu Tantric art, usually in connection with incarnations of Shiva. According to the Vamana Purana, which eulogises both Vishnu and Shiva, the Thorn Apple grew out of the chest of Shiva, lord of the inebriated. The Garuda Purana states that the flowers
The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications, 1998, pp. 204-205. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 5. Anna L. Dallapiccola, Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend, 2002, p. 57. 6. Jha and Pandey, 2011, pp. 21-24. 7. Ibid. 8. Dallapiccola, 2002, p. 57.
64 KACHELI RAGINI
INDIA (KANGRA), CIRCA 1820 HEIGHT: 17 CM WIDTH: 13 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper. An illustration from a Ragamala series. Inscribed on the reverse in devanagari: ragini kaceli dipakeda 5 “Kacheli Ragini the fifth wife of Dipak Raga”. Ragamala paintings in the Punjab Hills follow a system loosely modelled on that of Kshemakarna, with an expanded number of subsidiary raginis for each of the six ragas. While other raginis are also found in the smaller sets, here we find an unusual iconography confined to the Hills, with no similarity to Kshemakarna’s visual guidelines. Kshemakarna describes Kacheli Ragini, the fifth wife of Dipak Raga, as a beautiful woman but provides no specific or exclusive iconographic elements. He compares the sound of Kacheli to the voice of the tortoise who “sings” the musical mode.1
In this painting based on the Pahari system, Kacheli Ragini is an elegant noblewoman seated against a silver bolster on a high terrace overlooking two rams fighting, charging at great speed and butting their heads and horns together. Kacheli Ragini gestures towards the action with her beautifully hennaed fingers, which she dangles over the edge of the white marble parapet decorated with pink lotus petals. The sandstone terrace below the parapet is carved in low relief with a rope border and cusped niches. A red canopy supported by four gold posts fills the upper half of the composition, the poles and finials precisely touching the edges of the painting to create a theatrical stage for our heroine while shielding her from the elements. Her attendant stands behind her holding a chowrie or yak-tail flywhisk, creating an asymmetrical balance in the top half of the painting while the bottom half appears as if mirrored from the centre. The ferocious battle of the rams takes place on a grass covered arena to the foreground. In the background, glimpsed behind the terrace to the right, are trees and billowing fronds. The painting is framed by a dark blue border with gold trefoil leaves and darkened silver five-petalled flowers on scrolling vines, and a pink speckled outer border, both characteristic of Kangra miniatures.
century drawing from Basohli that depicts an unaccompanied Kacheli Ragini watching two fighting rams from the safety of a viewing platform within a high pavilion reached by a flight of steps. This is illustrated in Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, 1973, p. 279, fig. 324. Professor P. C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet propose an interpretation in which the fighting rams symbolise the inner conflict of the beautiful maiden who personifies Kacheli Ragini.1 Her calm and controlled exterior belies the churning emotions of the heart and mind tossed about by the unbridled passion of love.2 The upper half of the painting shows the controlled self which she presents to the world while the rams represent the actuality of her turbulent thoughts. Jain and Daljeet note that their reading is also in tune with the initial perception of Kacheli Ragini in Ragamala texts as the song of the tortoise.3 It reveals the unity of the tough exterior and a tender interior life, which both the tortoise and love itself, and in this manifestation of Kacheli Ragini, the two fighting rams and the pensive heroine, together characterise.4
Provenance: The Charles F. Ramus Collection
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Robert J. Del Bonta for his expert advice.
A painting with a similar composition but with Kacheli Ragini and her attendant facing left is in the Kangra Ragamala series at the National Museum, New Delhi. This is published in M. S. Randhawa, Kangra Ragamala Paintings, 1971, p. 76, no. 43. Also at the National Museum is an early eighteenth
References: 1. Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, 1973, p. 74. 2. http://www.exoticindiaart.com/product/ paintings/ragini-kacheli-consort-of-ragadipaka-HH99/. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid.
65 GANESHA ENTHRONED
INDIA (GULER OR KANGRA), CIRCA 1820 HEIGHT: 33.7 CM WIDTH: 46.7 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. Ganesha is seated on a large lotus cushion placed on a golden throne set with rubies and emeralds. He wears a magnificent lotus crown constructed of gold and gem-set petals linked by a band of jewels and embellished by a crescent moon, the symbol of his father Shiva. He is shaded by a golden parasol attached by a curved pole to the back of the throne. The central tier and finial of the parasol take the form of overlapping lotus petals and both the umbrella and the pole are richly embellished with rubies, emeralds and pearls. A seated attendant massages and washes Ganesha’s foot, wiping his toes with a cloth that she dips into the basin by her side. Another attendant standing behind Ganesha waves a chowrie (flywhisk). Ganesha is dressed in splendid yellow robes that complement his vermilion skin. His four hands carry his attributes: his axe; his elephant goad (ankus); a jewelled dish of his favourite sweetmeats (laddus) into which
his trunk plunges; and his broken tusk that he angrily threw at the moon when it laughed at him for falling over. Ganesha’s vehicle or vahana is the mouse, usually depicted as small and obsequious worshipping at Ganesha’s feet. In this painting, two very large mice, almost the size of the female attendants, worship on either side. Compositionally, they echo the postures of the attendants. The mouse on the left prostrates itself on the ground with one paw raised in worship, paralleling the attendant’s stooped posture and outstretched massaging hands. The mouse on the right sits upright, its posture echoing that of the standing attendant while the positions of
its two front paws parallel those of the attendant flicking the flywhisk. The scene takes place on a carpeted terrace in front of a white marble pavilion with chini kana compartments in the walls and the doors covered with diagonally quilted blinds. Two further bowls of laddus are placed in niches awaiting Ganesha’s delectation. The fluted pillars of the pavilion continue the lotus theme with bases and capitals composed of pink petals. A floral canopy with an ogival trellis
containing six-petalled flowers provides added shade at the front of the pavilion above the parasol. The jali balustrades that frame the terrace are carefully shaded to show the passage of light through the trellis. The frilled skirt worn by the attendant on the right with a wide contrasting band at the bottom is a Guler fashion seen in paintings of the 1820s. Two Guler paintings showing similar skirts are illustrated in W. G. Archer, Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, 1973, vol. I, p. 119, Guler nos. 70 and 72. It is possible that the two attendants may be Ganesha’s consorts, Riddhi and Siddhi, who personify prosperity and success.
66 T W O W I N G E D A PA S A R A S E S W O R S H I P P I N G AT A M O U N TA I N S H R I N E
INDIA (KOTAH), CIRCA 1840 HEIGHT: 23 CM WIDTH: 15.5 CM
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. In a secluded setting high up towards the summit of a mountain range, two winged apsarases (celestial beauties or dancers) are seated in worship before a shrine within a rocky crag. A diminutive Shiva lingam placed on its yoni has been lustrated and garlanded by the worshippers with floral wreaths and a single trumpet-shaped datura blossom. Placed behind the lingam is the sculpture of a female deity, possibly Parvati, framed by its stele; to the left is a sculpture of a miniature devotee and in front to the right is a small white Nandi bull that looks towards the lingam in adoration. The graceful apsarases wear copious jewellery including necklaces, bazubands (armbands), bracelets, earrings and sarpechs (head ornaments). The main figure reaches for a lotus garland held in a golden bowl by her winged attendant. The overhanging rocks towering above the apsarases part to reveal a daunting path through the forbidding landscape, dotted with scrubland trees and palms clinging to the crevices with gnarled roots and trunks, twisting branches and variegated leaves, some growing in quatrefoil formations. Tiny monkeys scamper on the rocky cliffs. In the foreground is a lotus pond or stream in which minuscule ducks swim. Completing the array of very small animals hidden in the landscape like
a game of hide and seek is a nakula or mongoose in the shrubs above the pond. The painting is uninscribed but may illustrate a scene of Shiva worship from the Vidyeshvara Samhita, the opening section of the Shiva Purana, a seventh century variant on the fifth century Vayu Purana, the most ancient of the Puranas or “stories of old”.1 As its name indicates, the Shiva Purana is dedicated to Shiva and his many aspects. As Shiva is both form and formlessness, he can be worshipped in his embodied or anthropomorphic form, or in the abstract form of the lingam, the most complex and comprehensive symbol associated with Shiva, who is the beginning and end of every cosmic process. As Shiva is the Absolute, he can only be perceived through his creation. The lingam is the epitome of cosmic energy and expresses unmanifested nature.3 It is stated in chapter 10 of the Vidyeshvara Samhita that the worship of the lingam form of Shiva is superior to that of his embodied form for those seeking liberation. The highly abstracted rocky mountains and short scrubby trees recall the landscapes of the famed Kotah hunting scenes from the eighteenth century. In the present painting, the abstraction is taken to a heightened level with separate outcroppings in fan-like shapes replacing the conventional straight wall of layered rocks defining the ridge line. The treatment may be compared with a Ram Singh hunting scene illustrated in M. K. Brijraj Singh, The Kingdom that was Kotah: Paintings from Kotah, 1985, fig. 43. The scale of the female figures is
also a new convention and they thoroughly dominate the composition. However, the largesse of the figures is balanced by an exceptionally fine line. Our painting is almost certainly by the same hand as a painting of “Madava swooning before Kamakandala”, formerly in the collection of John Kenneth Galbraith and now in the Harvard Art Museums. This is published in Stuart Cary Welch, A Flower from Every Meadow, 1973, pp. 50-51, cat. no. 23. The highly refined treatment of the hair and the thick application of gold and red to outline the hennaed fingers seem to be unusual conventions that both the Harvard page and our painting share. Though the paintings were done at the court of Ram Singh II of Kotah (reigned 1825-1866) these finely finished works have clearly been influenced by Devgarh painting and the work of Chokha and his sons Baijnath and Kavala. The facial features of our apsarases and the beautiful courtesan Kamakandala
and her bustling attendants share the same high forehead with hair severely pulled back, elongated eyes with pupils clinging to the upper eyelid, and large semi-circular ears. Though not so discernible in our seated celestials, the women in both paintings have pneumatic breasts above exaggeratedly narrow waists.
Provenance: Sotheby’s, London, 11th July 1973, lot 180 The Doris Wiener Collection, New York Private Collection, New York, since the 1980s
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to Robert Skelton and Jerry Losty for their expert advice.
References: 1. Anna L. Dallapiccola, Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend, 2002, p. 158. 2. Ibid., pp. 123 and 176. 3. Ibid.
67 A N E L E P H A N T F R O M T H E M U G H A L E M P E R O R ’ S S TA B L E
INDIA (DELHI), CIRCA 1820 HEIGHT: 31 CM WIDTH: 42 CM
Pencil and watercolour heightened with bodycolour and gold on paper. Inscribed in Persian in nastacliq to the upper left: mawla bakhsh Further inscribed faintly centre left under the trunk:
fil mawla bakhsh-e khassa-ye hozur-e vala “The elephant Mawla Bakhsh of the royal majestic presence”. This painting depicts a richly caparisoned elephant from the stable of the Mughal Emperor Akbar II (reigned 1806 -1837), with its driver (mahout) holding an elephant goad (ankus). The elephant carries a hunting howdah fitted with a cushioned seat and decorated with a frieze of leaves against a gold ground. It is ceremonially equipped
with a pair of pistols holstered at the front, a bow slung from each red and gold post, and a rifle clipped horizontally along the base. A square saddlecloth with a red cross hung from the howdah partially conceals the band of ropes going under the belly by which the howdah is secured. A large and magnificent cloth with a green fringe and a related design of floral scrolls on a red ground covers the body of the elephant. Long ropes, used as tethers when the elephant is stationary and now knotted at the bottom, dangle
as the elephant walks. Another textile covers the head of the elephant while a shield with gold bosses functions as its chamfron. Jewelled tassels hang from the flapping ears. The varying textures and colours of the elephant’s hide, with its spots, hairs and wrinkles, are minutely recorded with skill and sensitivity. According to the account given by S. Mahdi Husain in Bahadur Shah Zafar and the War of 1875 in Delhi, 1958, reprinted 2006, p. 54, an elephant called Mawla Bakhsh was a favourite pet of Bahadur Shah II (reigned 1837-1858). Presumably, given the earlier date of our painting, this same animal survived another forty years, or the name was carried over to other elephants in the royal menagerie. An elephant with almost identical caparisons and weapons, and a similar open howdah in which the emperor is seated, is depicted in a long Delhi scroll painting of “The procession of the Mughal emperor Akbar II through Delhi to the cIdgah”, now at the British Library in London and illustrated in J. P. Losty and Malini Roy, Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire, 2012, pp. 212-217, figs. 152a-d. According to Losty and Roy the great procession marking the cId al-Fitr festival at the end of Ramadan, when the emperor processed from the Red Fort to the open prayer space of the cIdgah, was one of the few remaining traditional Mughal sights in Delhi in the first half of the nineteenth century. It is tempting to think the elephant could be Mawla Bashkh, were it not for the much longer tusks. Reflecting the shift in real power to the British is the presence within the procession of Charles Metcalfe, Resident of Delhi between
1811-1819 and again in 1825-1827, seated on a howdah with a chair on an elephant with distinctive blue and yellow saddlecloths. Following behind on his own elephant and recognisable by his copious whiskers is William Fraser himself (1784-1835), Assistant Resident at Delhi from 1805.
Provenance: William and James Baillie Fraser The Ismail Merchant Collection
Published: Mildred Archer and Toby Falk, India Revealed: The art and adventures of James and William Fraser 1801-35,
The present elephant portrait is published in Mildred Archer and Toby Falk, India Revealed: The art and adventures of James and William Fraser 1801-35, 1989, p. 110, pl. 98, along with its companion painting, “The bullock-drawn carriage of Prince Mirza Babur”, on p. 108, pl. 93. An almost identical closed bullock chariot (rath) on the processional scroll is illustrated by Losty and Roy on p. 216, fig. 152d.
1989, p. 110, pl. 98.
68 GREY HERON
INDIA (CALCUTTA), CIRCA 1820 HEIGHT: 68 CM WIDTH: 50.5 CM
Opaque watercolour on paper, with pencil, pen and grey ink within black lined borders, the paper watermarked J WHATMAN. Inscribed in Persian with the local name of the bird: anjan The grey heron (Ardea cinerea) is well-known on the Indian subcontinent and can be seen up to 5000 feet. It wades in shallow water with its head craned and bill poised ready to pounce on a frog or fish coming within striking range. These two exquisite Company School bird paintings from Calcutta make a lovely pair. The Demoiselle Crane in the next catalogue entry with its black neck and white crest perfectly complements the present Grey Heronâ€™s black crest and pale grey neck. Herons, cranes, and the similar-looking storks, however, belong to three completely different and unrelated families. Their behaviour is very different too.
of Africa. Neither do they share the beautiful bugling call of the cranes; their voice is just a deep, harsh croak. In a side view like this, herons appear to be large birds. But beneath those broad wings and flamboyant feathers, their body is deceptively small and remarkably slender, like a bookmark or a cardboard cut-out. And to be slender is what is required for a life spent skulking silently through tall reeds in search of prey. From the viewpoint of a frog or a fish, a stalking heron approaching is virtually undetectable, until it is far too late and escape impossible. Herons are masters of the forward strike. They have excellent binocular vision that enables them to judge distances perfectly and to focus sharply even through water. And of course there is that distinctively kinked neck, just a single elongated bone that articulates at right angles with its neighbours, that acts like a trigger mechanism, allowing the bird to thrust its head forward at lightning speed.
Provenance: Private English Collection Acquired by the owner in a private auction in Lincoln in the 1970s.
Unlike the migratory Demoiselle Crane, Grey Herons are resident throughout most of their range, which extends throughout much of Europe and Asia and into parts
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Katrina van Grouw for her expert advice and kind preparation of this catalogue entry.
69 DEMOISELLE CRANE
INDIA (CALCUTTA), CIRCA 1820 HEIGHT: 62.5 CM WIDTH: 46.6 CM
Opaque watercolour on paper, with pencil, pen and grey ink within black lined borders, the paper watermarked J WHATMAN. Inscribed in Persian with the local name of the bird: kakara Size isn’t everything. The delicate Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo) with its black neck and white crest, named by Queen Marie Antoinette of France for its maidenly charm, is one of the smallest crane species, though exquisitely beautiful. Its appearance and habits have earned it a prominent place in Asian culture and folklore under its local name koonj, which literally just means “crane”, though the term is often similarly extended to refer to beautiful women. The inscription on the painting gives another local variant, kakara.
migration feats of any bird. On migration it is essential to maintain contact with the rest of the flock, and cranes produce a sonorous, trumpeting call, amplified by an extraordinarily lengthened windpipe that is actually coiled within the walls of their breastbone. Back on the breeding grounds the flocks disperse into tightly knit pairs. Cranes mate for life and strengthen their pair bond with elaborate dances, though they will “dance” at the slightest provocation and seem to derive great pleasure from it. Even young chicks have been observed bobbing and leaping about wildly, and tossing little sticks into the air. Although superficially similar to the longer-billed storks and herons, cranes are not closely related to either. Their similarities are a result of what we call convergent evolution. The need to wade through water, reed beds or long grass has, by pure necessity, produced a variety of birds that are tall and slender, with a long neck and long legs.
Demoiselle Cranes occur throughout central Asia and like many other species they are migratory. But their migration route has a major obstacle in its path: the Himalayas. Twice a year the cranes gather in their thousands, to perform one of the most arduous, high altitude
Private English Collection Acquired by the owner in a private auction in Lincoln in the 1970s.
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Katrina van Grouw for her expert advice and kind preparation of this catalogue entry.
70 I N T E R L O C K I N G WAV E S
INDIA (MUGHAL, JAHANGIR PERIOD, PROBABLY AGRA), EARLY 17TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 200.5 CM WIDTH: 97.5 CM DEPTH: 7.5 CM
A magnificent carved and pierced double-sided yellow sandstone jali screen with a bold geometric design of sinuous and elegant wave motifs that interlock diagonally to form fan-shaped palmettes, medallions and cusped ogivals of ever increasing complexity. The motifs tease the eye with a sense of expansion, movement and internal elaboration as the design simultaneously radiates outwards and intensifies within, barely contained by the wide, stepped border decorated towards the base with a delicate half-fan and half-lotus motif. The combination of simplicity and sophisticated geometry of great mathematical precision, allied to a superb sense of design, gives this remarkable jali a sense of striking modernity, while the scale of this large and powerful jali imparts a monumental presence. At the same time, the spacious openwork lattice infuses the jali with a wonderful play of light and shade, the jali seemingly constructed as much from air as it is from stone, effortlessly combining the contrary sensations of weight and weightlessness. The fluid geometry and bold simplicity of the design is a legacy of the reign of Akbar and his tastes, but the refinement, delicacy and precision of this jali suggest a dating to the reign of the emperor Jahangir.1 Provenance: Spink and Son, London
Exhibited and Published: Spink and Son, Gopis, Goddesses & Demons, 2000, pp. 76 and 77, cat. no. 46.
Reference: 1. Stuart Cary Welch, India: Art and Culture 1300-1900, 1985, pp. 191-193.
71 GEOMETRIC MARBLE JALI
INDIA (MUGHAL), 17TH CENTURY HEIGHT: 51 CM WIDTH: 83 CM DEPTH: 6.5 CM
A rectangular carved, pierced and polished white marble jali screen with a geometric honeycomb pattern of interlocking hexagons within a thick plain border. The edges of each hexagon are fluted and chamfered, adding strength and refinement to the design. To the centre of each linked hexagon is a small inner hexagon connected by spokes to the outer example. The spokes create six pentagons in the interstices between the inner and outer hexagons. Originally, jalis such as this would be joined together by vertical posts to create a continuous border around a garden terrace. The curved top indicates that it would be used as a balustrade rather than set into a wall. According to Stuart Cary Welch, ruggedly geometric patterns, masterfully cut but powerfully simple, were favoured by Akbar, such as those made for him at Fatehpur Sikri.1 During Jahangirâ€™s reign, there was a gain in refinement, delicacy and precision while retaining Akbari might.2 During the reign of Shah Jahan, the vogue was for floral and arabesque motifs, in keeping with the interest of Shah Jahan in flowers and jewels. The geometric rigour and refined simplicity of this jali suggest a dating to the early seventeenth century.
References: 1. Stuart Cary Welch, India: Art and Culture 1300-1900, 1985, p. 191. 2. Ibid.
72 R O S E T T E S A N D S A Z L E AV E S
INDIA (RAJASTHAN), CIRCA 1800 HEIGHT: 45 CM WIDTH: 96 CM DEPTH: 6.4 CM
A delicately carved, pierced and polished white marble jali screen with an openwork pattern of intertwining vines, flowers and serrated saz leaves.
The meticulously crafted design consists of a row of five stylised eight-petalled rosettes placed to the centre of undulating arabesque fluted tendrils. Of the five, two of the rosettes are of a larger size, flanked by curling leaves which sweep upwards on one and downwards on the other. They alternate with three smaller rosettes, each surrounded by radiating leaves. The five flowers alternate with
serrated saz leaves at which the scrolling vines terminate. The curling tips of the saz leaves touch the petals of half-seen flowers that protrude into the composition from the frame that surrounds the openwork design. The jali has a post at one end surmounted by a dome finial. The jali is a clever combination of visual and material contrasts that provide a feast for the senses: deeply
cut, thickly cross-sectioned marble contrasted with the delicacy of the design and the shallow surface relief carving; the weight of the brilliant white marble contrasting with the light and space of the openwork design. The saz leaves reflect the influence of Ottoman design, and are also seen on Mughal carpets and tiles. This jali would have been used as part of a balustrade on a terrace as seen in Mughal and Rajput paintings
of the period. A similar jali is illustrated in the Spink 1998 catalogue, Passion & Tranquillity: Indian & Islamic Works of Art, p. 97, cat. no. 55. A pair of jalis of related design is in the collection of the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore.
73 MOTHER AND CHILD
IRAN (SAFAVID), FIRST QUARTER OF THE 17TH CENTURY LENGTH: 29 CM WIDTH: 27.3 CM
This exquisite fragment of cut voided silk velvet on a satin ground with remains of silver lamella depicts a mother holding a child in her arms as he offers her a flowering branch. She stands serenely against the luxuriant backdrop of a cypress tree entwined with a leafy pomegranate tree laden with fruit, around which a tiny spotted leopard prances. Statuesque and dignified, not unlike a solemn Madonna, she wears a voluminous long-sleeved robe in cream tied with a golden yellow belt. A golden yellow shawl sweeps from her shoulder to large folds resembling classical drapery at the front. Her simple jewellery includes an amulet that may once have contained an inscription. Her headdress is garlanded with leaves like a laurel wreath. These elements of costume, her broad facial features, monumental proportions, and the implicit theme of the Madonna and Child, all suggest European or Central Asian influence. Though the metal ground has been lost, the well-preserved colours gleam, the pile is long and silky, and the textile unusually supple to the touch. This panel is one of four figurative velvets found together in Tibet in the 1980s and sold through Spink and Son in London. A panel with two female figures and two cypresses arranged in staggered formation is in the David Collection, Copenhagen. This is published in Kjeld von Folsach and Anne-Marie Keblow Bernsted, Woven Treasures - Textiles from the World of Islam, 1993, pp. 112-113, cat. no. 34; and Kjeld von Folsach, Sultan, Shah and Great Mughal: The history and culture of the Islamic world, 1996, p. 280, cat. no. 260. Seventeenth century Safavid velvets represent the zenith of textile art with regard to elegance, richness of colour and technical complexity.
They were made for the court of Shah cAbbas I (reigned 1588-1629) and also presented as diplomatic gifts. A group of well-known velvets with single or paired male or female figures as the main motif can be seen in European collections, such as the hangings at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen and the celebrated coat given by the Tsar of Russia in 1644 to Queen Christina of Sweden, now in the Livrustkammeran in Stockholm. Figured velvets of related design are in the Keir Collection in London and the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha. These velvets all fall into a group attributed by Arthur Upham Pope to Yazd and are typified by elegant, elongated and slightly mannered figures in the style of paintings by Reza Abbasi. The present velvet is from a much smaller group with solidly proportioned figures, possibly made or traded through Armenian centres like Old and New Julfa. A related velvet at the Textile Museum, Washington, exudes a similar calm atmosphere and depicts a richly dressed woman holding a flask and a fluted cup. She wears a hairnet studded with jewels of the type fashionable with wealthy European women in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and her outer garment recalls classical drapery. This is published in Carol Bier (ed.), Woven from the Soul, Spun from the Heart: Textile Arts of Safavid and Qajar Iran 16th-19th centuries, 1987, p. 239, cat. no. 55. Connected thematically is the most spectacular manifestation of the Madonna and Child motif, the extraordinary velvet with a repeated design of a haloed Virgin Mary suckling her haloed Christ child, presented to Doge Marino Grimani by the visiting Persian mission sent by Shah cAbbas I to Venice in 1603. This is now in the Museo Civico Correr, Venice, and illustrated in Giovanni Curatola (ed.), Eredità dell’Islam: Arte islamica in Italia, 1993, p. 429, cat. no. 275. Stylistic elements have suggested the possibility that our velvet may have been made in Mughal India.
However, Steven Cohen has kindly drawn our attention to the technical differences between Safavid and Mughal velvets, until recently unknown but now recognised and published; these confirm the Safavid manufacture of our velvet. The outstanding comparison is by Rahul Jain, Mughal Velvets in the Collection of the Calico Museum of Textiles, 2011. According to Cohen in his article, “Two Outstanding Mughal Qanat Panels in the David Collection”, in Journal of the David Collection, Volume 4, 2014, p. 194, footnote 74, the most important structural difference is the number of differently coloured pile warps per channel. Mughal velvets rarely exceed four or five colours whereas many more can appear in the same channel of a Safavid velvet. Mughal velvets lack what Jain describes as a “vertical vise” present on all Safavid examples. This is a pair of non-pile forming foundation wefts that secure the pile warps on the front and back of the velvet. Safavid velvets use both a front and a back weft while Mughal velvets only secure pile warps with one “vertical vise” on the back. Another distinction is the direction in which the metal strip is wrapped around a silk core: “S” in Safavid velvets and “Z” in Mughal.
Provenance: Lisbet Holmes Spink and Son, London
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Steven Cohen for his expert advice.
74 T E N T H A N G I N G ( Q A N AT )
NORTHERN INDIA (RAJASTHAN, PROBABLY JAIPUR), EARLY18TH CENTURY LENGTH: 490 CM WIDTH: 95 CM
A block-printed, mordant-dyed and painted cotton tent hanging (qanat) with a design of a tall and elegant floral spray within a multi-cusped arch. The stem rises from a leafy mound at the base of the design to shoot upwards to a towering height, bearing leaves and poppy flowers emerging in bud or bursting into full bloom, seen in nodding side-profile to the left and right and crowned by a flower-head of radiating petals to the top. From the calyx of each poppy dangles a pair of hyacinth-like stamen clusters. The tall plant is flanked by two smaller flowering plants with lily-like flowers. Cascading down against the plain ground on all sides of the plant as if blazing with flames are chinoiserie cloud bands (t’chi). The spandrels of the arch are decorated with scrolling floral arabesques. The narrow vertical borders are decorated with inverted omega shapes of green serrated leaves enclosing red trefoils. A red panel with a trellis of leaves and flowers framed by a scrolling border above anchors the design at its base. This tent hanging is part of a well-known series of chintzes, examples of which are held by important museums and private collections world-wide. The qanat panels would originally have formed the interior of at least one, or possibly two, spectacular tents, providing the decoration for a piece of royal temporary architecture that would almost certainly have been plain red on the outside.1 The Mughal imperial court was a peripatetic court that travelled regularly and the emperors had entire portable cities created from
textiles in the form of camps with tents for every purpose. The court’s audience rooms, workshops, kitchens, storage and private apartments were all to be found under canvas, waterproof on the outside and hung with rich fabrics, velvets and chintzes of high quality inside. In this example, the brush strokes are broad and bold to impress petitioners from a distance, so it is likely to have been destined for a public hall to make an impression on the subjects of the rulers. According to Joseph M. Dye, who writes of a tent hanging from the group in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Francois Bernier notes in 1664 that the royal enclosure of Aurangzeb’s camp was surrounded by fabric screens or tent walls seven or eight feet in height: “These kanates are of strong cloth which was lined with chittes [chintz] or cloths painted with portals with a great vase of flowers”.2 The emperor’s private quarters were enclosed by small qanats, while “beautiful chittes of painted flowers” lined the interiors of other tents. Bernier further noted the construction method of wooden posts staked into the ground in pairs ten paces apart, one on the inside of the tent and one on the outside, leaning against each other for stability and the cloth screens held fast by ropes attached to the stakes.3 In a joined panel of three qanats in a private collection in London, the attachments for the support poles are still retained.4
longest panels that make up this arrangement are 450 cm long and would have met at the highest part of the tent. According to Crill, several more pieces of this length are known. At 490 cm, the present qanat must be one of the tallest pieces to have survived and originally destined to hang from the apex of the tent. Published examples include the Virginia Museum panel, in Joseph M. Dye III, The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2001, p. 467, cat. no. 224; two panels and a slanting fragment in the Collection A.E.D.T.A, Association pour l’Etude et la Documentation des Textiles d’Asia, Paris, in Krishnâ Riboud, Amina Okada and Marie-Hélène Guelton, Le Motif Floral dans les Tissus Moghols: Inde XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, 1995, pls. 1, 2 and 3; the Tapi composite tent hanging in Ruth Barnes, Steven Cohen and Rosemary Crill, Trade, Temple & Court: Indian Textiles from the Tapi Collection, 2002, pp. 160-161, no. 62; and two panels in the Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad, in John Irwin and Margaret Hall, Indian Painted and Printed Fabrics: Historic Textiles of India in the Calico Museum, Volume I, 1971, p. 30, no. 20, pl. 10.
Provenance: Robert Kime
References: 1. Ruth Barnes, Steven Cohen and Rosemary Crill, Trade, Temple & Court: Indian Textiles from the Tapi Collection, 2002, p. 160.
The largest from this group of qanats is the composite tent hanging now in the Tapi Collection in Surat, composed of six separate floral panels stitched together with four corner fragments and additional border strips. In her analysis of the Tapi hanging, Rosemary Crill observes that all the panels have sloping tops to fit neatly with their matching counterparts that would have formed the opposite inner wall of the tent.5 The two
2. Joseph M. Dye III, The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2001, p. 467. 3. Krishnâ Riboud, Amina Okada and Marie-Hélène Guelton, Le Motif Floral dans les Tissus Moghols: Inde XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, 1995, pl. 2. 4. Veronica Murphy in Robert Skelton et al, The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule, 1982, pp. 84-85, no. 212, discussed in relation to a panel lent by Lisbet Holmes to the exhibition. 5. Barnes, Cohen and Crill, 2002, p. 160.
75 PA L A M P O R E F R A G M E N T
INDIA (COROMANDEL COAST FOR THE EUROPEAN MARKET ), CIRCA 1720 LENGTH: 236 CM WIDTH: 65 CM
A mordant-painted and resist-dyed cotton palampore fragment with an exquisite design of birds and animals amongst intertwining stems and branches bearing large composite fruits and flowers. Perched on a branch to the top right is a peacock turning its crested head towards the exotic blooms that tower above. To the left, another bird hovers on the edge of the dense millefleurs border that frames the textile to the sides and bottom. A pair of birds sitting closely together on a branch to the centre left coos in unison while to the right edge a butterfly flutters above a spray of stylised lilies. Two small birds swoop and dive as they fly amidst the variegated flowers. Clinging with clawed feet to the curved edge of an unseen vase to the lower right is a lively mongoose that inquisitively surveys the scene. Strutting on the mound of chinoiserie rocks to the base is a crowing cockerel. The bold and exotic flowers, fruits and leaves are painted with intoxicating variety and imagination, with fine inner details including geometric hatching, veins, scales and virtuoso chiaroscuro effects contrasting dark and light shades of colour. No two flowers or leaves are exactly alike and even the bark of the branches is varied to convey mottling, peeling or gnarled textures. Floral bouquets and clusters, bunches of fruit and delicious half-flower half-fruit hybrids, accompanied by sinuously twisting leaves and spiky calyxes, tumble with baroque exuberance across the design. The feathers of the birds
and the fur of the finely whiskered mongoose are also maximally differentiated to create contrast and volume. The mongoose is a delicious mauve colour made by combining red and blue dyes, its fur patterned with stripes on its tail and back and speckles on its plump body. This exceptionally beautiful border fragment is very closely related to a fragmentary palampore now at the David Collection in Copenhagen. This has two mongooses of identical design clinging to either side of a globular vase surrounded by cascades of similar exotic blossoms growing from a tree-of-life that emerges from the mouth of the vase. It is possible that the two fragments could be pieces of the same palampore. However, unless the David Collection palampore had a mirrored design with two vases, it seems more likely that our fragment is from another palampore from the same workshop, perhaps even its pair, used as part of a group of sumptuous wall hangings and bed furnishings in the same room. The sinuous, pellucid drawing and charming details of the mongoose and the cockerel are particularly appealing and unusual. The depiction of the globular vase and elegant curvilinear treatment of the flowering tree relate to a palampore in the Victoria and Albert, London, published in Rosemary Crill, Chintz: Indian Textiles for the West, 2008, p. 43, pl. 9. A chintz dating to circa 1720 with similar blossoms exhibited at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, is published in Ebeltje Hartkamp-Jonxis, Sits: Oost-West Relaties in Textiel, 1987, p. 82, cat. 49.
76 T R E E - O F - L I F E PA L A M P O R E
INDIA (COROMANDEL COAST FOR THE EUROPEAN MARKET ), CIRCA 1740 LENGTH: 320 CM WIDTH: 218.5 CM
A mordant-painted and resist-dyed cotton palampore with an elegant tree-of-life design within scrolling floral borders. Two sinuously twisting and intertwining tree trunks rise from the apex of a triangular mound, bearing a dense lattice of branches from which sprout variegated exotic flowers, serrated leaves and luxuriant pomegranates. Small birds perch or hover amongst the branches. Standing on the sides of the mound with both their heads facing right is a pair of long-legged cranes or herons. The mound is composed of diagonally stacked cusped cartouches intricately filled with a wide variety of floral and geometric patterns against different coloured grounds. The filler motifs, which include ferns, tendrils, diapers of leaves and stars, radiating grooves, hatched dots, crosses and checks, are arranged in a manner that suggest the influence of Japanese painted and stencilled cotton designs while also relating to filler motifs seen on north coast Javanese batik designs. These stylistic links to other design centres famous for the production
of resist-painted and printed cottons reflect the interchange of ideas through trade routes and textile commissions for export. It was probably the Dutch that introduced Japanese patterns to the Coromandel Coast as they maintained a monopoly on trade with Japan in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Dutch also played a significant role in the dissemination of Indian motifs through trade with the Indonesian archipelago.
and in Asia, where they circulated in Indonesia in the eighteenth century and later.1 The principal production centres for palampores were Masulipatam, the principal port of Golconda, and Pulicat, both renowned for the quality of their chintz painting.2 The southern port of Nagapattinam became an important export centre in the eighteenth century, first under Dutch then English control, reflecting a shift of coastal trade from north to south.3
In contrast to the small and closely packed motifs of the main field are the more open scrolling borders with large flowers and chevron leaves accompanied by delicate trefoil sprigs and smaller leaves dancing against the ivory ground. The border is framed on the edge of the main field and the extremities of the palampore by diminutive rope tendrils.
For a discussion on the relationship of Japanese and Javanese motifs to dyed cottons from the Coromandel Coast, see Mattiebelle Gittinger, Master Dyers to the World: Technique and Trade in Early Indian Dyed Cotton Textiles, 1982, p. 181, fig. 153; pp. 185 -186, fig. 158; pp. 188 -189, figs. 159 and 160. These correspondences of design are also examined by John Guy in Woven Cargoes: Indian Textiles in the East, 1998, pp. 76-119 and 158-177.
For a hanging with a bifurcated mound displaying a similar arrangement of filler motifs within cusped triangular outlines at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, see Rosemary Crill, Chintz: Indian Textiles for the West, 2008, p. 43, pl. 9. This textile is also illustrated as pl. 14, cat. no. 16 in John Irwin and Katherine B. Brett, Origins of Chintz, 1970, alongside two other palampores with birds flanking similar mounds in pl. 15, cat. no. 17 and pl. 16, cat. no. 18. Palampores are large chintzes, which were laid on a bed or hung behind it. The word palampore is an Anglicisation of palang-posh or bedcover, which describes the principal use of these export cloths. Painted and printed cloths with a flowering tree or large-scale floral design were in demand in Europe
Exhibited: MusĂŠe de Grenoble, 2000
References: 1. John Guy, Woven Cargoes: Indian Textiles in the East, 1998, pp. 106, 107 and 187. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid.
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