S I MO N RAY INDIAN & ISLAMIC WORKS OF ART
SIMON RAY INDIAN & ISLAMIC WORKS OF ART
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS It is with great pleasure that I present this sixteenth 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, Will Kwiatkowski, Katrina van Grouw, Catherine Glynn, Milo Cleveland Beach, Steve Kossak, Terence McInerney, Asok Kumar Das, Anna Dallapiccola, George Michell, Michael Spink, Joan Cummins 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 and Tim Blake. Leng Tan has written the entries for this catalogue. I would like to thank Leng for his meticulous research and writing that conveys the spirit of each work of art so beautifully.
William Edwards has written the sculpture and ceramic entries with wonderful research and 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 and Richard Valencia for their excellent photography, Richard Harris for all his outstanding repro and colour preparation and Peter Keenan for his elegant design that presents these works so beautifully.
Sculpture 6 Islamic Ceramics 18 Calligraphic Tile 24 Timurid Tile 26 Multan Tile 28 Mughal Tiles 30 Aleppo Tile 32 Safavid Tiles 34 Iznik Tiles 38 Iznik Ceramics 50 Cantagalli Dish 60 Indian Jewellery 62 Indian Metalwork 88 Jade 94 Ivory 98 Indian Paintings 100 Central Asian Robe 172 Indian Stonework
1 K U S H A N R O YA L P O R T R A I T India (Kushan), 2nd/early 3rd century Height: 128 cm Width: 74 cm Depth: 25 cm
This magnificent carved red sandstone sculpture depicts a clothed and decorated torso with various attributes associated with the Kushan empire, and indicating their power and authority. This suggests that the figure is one of the Kushan emperors or one of their trusted satrap rulers who presided over provincial courts within the empire. This statue is of the type associated with the royal shrines at Mathura, but the stone indicates origins some distance to the north-west. He wears a variant of Kushan costume, a thick, belted riding tunic and breeches. The tunic, a practical garment for a horseman, is loose fitting, slightly bloused above the waist and falling in broad vertical pleats below. The best-known image of a Kushan emperor is that of Kanishka (reigned circa 87-101 AD) at the Mathura Museum, showing the king wearing a formal robe over his tunic, as if attending a state gathering.1 In the present sculpture, the ruler sports a flowing riding cloak fastened to his shoulders.2 The sword itself is similar to that of Kanishka which, according to Markus Mode, is an Iranian or Central Asian form of weapon.3 Displaying the sword is a visible expression of the origins of the wearer. The scabbard has
hanger appear to have been made of leather or thick felt.
raised vertical bands possibly made of leather and one can see where the hand gripped the sword, as if drawing it from the scabbard.
The Kushans were a central Asian people, probably the descendants of the Tokarians, a Caucasian, Indo-European language group, who were originally nomadic herdsmen living south-east of the Gobi desert. Culturally, they were part of that Scythian fraternity whose influence stretched from the Black Sea to the borders of China. The Kushans appear to have been driven from their homelands by the Huns in around the mid second century BC and moved westwards, establishing themselves in Bactria where they bordered, and came under the influence of, the Iranian empire. Modelling themselves on the Iranians in many ways, the Kushans built a great empire, which would ultimately extend from Bactria down into the Ganges valley.
The waist-belt and sword-hanger are ornamented with figurative medallions, a traditional Kushan decoration with origins from their Scythian forebears. A lion head on the sword-hanger and a confronting lion and gryphon on the waist-belt suggest fearsome strength, though by this period the lion was also regarded as a Buddhist symbol. These lithe-bodied creatures are very similar to those found on architectural railings of the Kushan period. Unlike the art of Iran, where lions are shown hunting or being hunted, in Kushan art, lions are seen individually posed and unaggressive, sometimes almost playful, but always with great physical beauty. It is possible that lions were intended to reiterate the character of the wearer, a strong, benign ruler who will defend his people whenever necessary. The gryphon may signify transcendence.
The Kushans were tolerant of, indeed encouraged, the existing beliefs of their subjects - Brahmans, Jains and Buddhists - and understood that support of the religious life of their diverse subjects was an effective means of ensuring law and order. In this harmonious environment, trade and agriculture flourished. In turn the wealthy classes patronised the arts and the Kushan period is marked by interesting developments, notably in the depiction of the gods. More importantly, the depiction of the Kushan emperors themselves marks the development of portrait sculpture in northern India. The
Formal images on coins of the period and statues of the emperors show them holding their sword in one hand and a mace in the other. Here a waist-belt supports a loose sword hanger, a practical arrangement for a horseman, allowing the sword to rest comfortably over the thigh when riding. This configuration is almost identical to that in the elegant statue of Cashtana, a satrap prince, in the Mathura Museum.4 The belt and
images illustrate the blending together of Indian and foreign ideas which took place during the period. It was during the reign of Kanishka, both a bloodthirsty conqueror and patron of Buddhism, who convened a great Buddhist council in Kashmir and built a stupa near Peshawar, that the portrait statue emerged. The concept of the emperor portrait came from the Iranians. Portrait images existed in Iran, for instance on the friezes of Persepolis and associated images of Darius. Gods are seldom depicted in Iranian religious art, the focus of figurative art being the human relationship with the gods, the personage concerned being shown in a position of honour. The same characters appear in secular art performing acts of heroism, such as hunting and killing lions. The combination of religious themes with those depicting the royal strength of character was propaganda, the intention being to depict the ruler in complete control of his empire. Following Iranian tradition, the Kushans had statues of themselves made in order to remind the local population of who was in charge, to legitimise their ancestry and validate their right to royal command, and to promote the notion of cohesiveness in a vast empire. The Kushans consciously set themselves aloof from the people, maintaining their own cultural identity. The distinct separateness of Kushan court culture included
the retention of their steppe riding costume. Despite its uncomfortable impracticality in the heat of the Ganges Plain, this dress reminded the subject peoples of the status of their overlords. Some satrap rulers, indigenous princes allied to the Kushans, followed suit. Cashtana, identified by inscription, is one such example.
benevolent ruler presiding over a peaceful, prosperous kingdom. As well as promoting themselves as foreign overlords, the Kushans appropriated an existing Indian concept in order to promote their credentials to their Indian subjects.
Provenance: Spink and Son, London
The Kushan rulers set up royal galleries to display their portrait statues. In Mathura, a city full of travelling traders and pilgrims, this royal semi-cult appears to have been concentrated in shrines dedicated to the dynasty. One was discovered at Mat, nine miles from the modern city centre in 1911, and a similar shrine was found at Gokarneshvara Tila. Never before or after did any ruling dynasty of India commemorate itself in quite this manner.
Art Loss Register certificate: S00103984 References: 1. Illustrated in Ludwig Bachhofer, Early Indian Sculpture, 1939. See also J. C. Harle, The Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent, 1986, fig. 50; and Susan L. Huntington, The Art of Ancient India, 1993, p. 128, fig. 8.3. 2. The same garment appears on an addorsed figure illustrated in John M. Rosenfield, The Dynastic Arts of the Kushans, 1967, fig. 21. 3. Markus Mode, “Some notes on the Sword of Kanishka”, in Raymond Allchin and Bridget
Surviving Kushan statues follow a distinct tradition. Formal and frontally posed, with their legs taut and slightly apart, they present an impression of physical and emotional strength and have a monumental, heroic quality intended to impress the observer. In these respects they draw on northern Indian traditions rather than Iranian, and comparison should be made with the awe-inspiring statues of yakshas from the late Mauryan and Shunga periods, and with some of the earliest Buddhist art, such as the bodhisattva dedicated by the monk Bala at Sarnath in the first century. This comparison leads one to consider the notion of chakravartin that was active in India at that time, representing the Buddhist ideal of a strong but
Allchin (eds.), South Asian Archaeology, 1995, 1997, vol 2, pp. 543-556. The gently curved blade suggests a date prior to Vasudeva I (reigned circa 142 to 177 AD), when straighter Sasanian style swords came to be worn, though Kanishka’s sword is also straight. 4. See Rosenfield, 1967, figs. 3, 3a and 3b; and George Michell, Catherine Lampert and Tristram Holland (eds.), In the Image of Man: The Indian perception of the Universe through 2000 years of painting and sculpture, 1982, p. 129, no. 115. Literature: Stanislaw J. Czuma, Kushan Sculpture: Images from Early India, 1985. Pratapaditya Pal, Indian Sculpture: A Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection, Volume I, 1986. Oppi Untracht, Traditional Jewelry of India, London, 1997.
2 AT L A N T E S North-Western Pakistan (Gandhara), 2nd/3rd century Height: 15 cm Width: 11.8 cm Depth: 5.5 cm
A dark grey schist sculpture of a kneeling Atlantes figure, loosely based on the Greek god Atlas, and finely carved with strong Hellenistic facial features. He sits in a naturalistic and confident yet relaxed pose, kneeling with his legs spread, his hand resting on one knee, supporting some of his weight. A dhoti-like garment loosely covers his thigh and hangs down in folds between his legs. His right leg is fully bent underneath him whilst the remains of his left suggest that it was bent in front of him as his foot can be seen planted on the floor. His right arm, bending slightly forward to support the bulk of his torso at the elbow, hangs over his knee, with his large wings framing him behind. This pose was characteristically non-Indian.1 His muscles are pronounced and exaggerate his powerful and heroic torso, uncovered and unadorned. His head sits low, nestling in-between his shoulders and he has turned to the left as if his eye has been caught by something
unseen. His hair falls in thick curls around his face, and he has a thick beard which all but hides his mouth. Large eyes are wide open and stare into the distance. The flattened top of his head suggests that he may have rested under an architectural member. His mature, bushy face recalls the portraits of Greek and Roman gods and leaders, while his Herculean musculature evokes the athletic ideal.
are yakshas in the guise of classical atlantes, having borrowed the wings from Victory.3 In the Gandharan context, similar examples in stucco surviving in situ line the veneer of stupa bases at Taxila and Hadda, recording the placement of such figures at Buddhist sites.
According to Pratapaditya Pal, though atlantes figures are often loosely identified as “Atlas”, they should be distinguished from the individual in classical mythology who was ordered to support the heavens on his shoulders, and is often thus depicted on temple pillars or narrative panels. The crucial iconographic difference is that Atlas is never provided with wings and usually supports a globe with both hands. The Gandharan equivalent rarely uses both arms and is almost always winged. In addition, atlantes are seldom solitary but mostly seen in groups. However, the atlantes share with Atlas the common position of supporting structures in temple sculpture. As such they tended to act in a similar way as yakshas, which to all intents and purposes, is what they are.2 Alfred Foucher was the first to suggest that the muscular figures
Private Japanese Collection, acquired in the 1980s Art Loss Register certificate: S00113513 References: 1. B. N. Goswamy, Essence of Indian Art, 1986, p. 168. 2. Pratapaditya Pal, Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum, Vol. 1: Art from the Indian Subcontinent, 2003, p. 68. 3. Alfred Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, 1905-1951, vol. 1, p. 208. Literature: Isao Kurita, Gandharan Art II: The World of the Buddha, 2003, pp. 155-157. W. Zwalf, A Catalogue of the Gandhara Sculpture in the British Museum, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 257-260. B. N. Goswamy, Essence of Indian Art, 1986, p. 168. Pratapaditya Pal, Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum, Vol. 1: Art from the Indian Subcontinent, 2003, pp. 68-69, no. 35.
3 MALE DEITY Cambodia (Khmer, Baphuon style), mid 11th century Height: 76 cm Width: 24.3 cm Depth: 12.8 cm
A carved grey sandstone sculpture of a male deity, probably Shiva, standing facing forwards with a pinched waist, both knees slightly bent and wearing a decorative sampot can kpin. This elegant figure of Shiva wears a pleated sampot, high at the back and dipping in front below the navel where it is tied together and secured by a plain scarf with a thin border to its top and bottom. The vertical hem covering his right leg is folded over to create the long front panel which terminates in a flaring fishtail motif. This style was prevalent in the Baphuon era, helping us to date the piece to the middle of the eleventh century.1 The trivali (three auspicious folds) are clearly marked. His right arm is missing at the shoulder whilst his left is broken
at the elbow. Originally it would have extended forward holding an attribute. The lower part of his legs are also absent but we can still see his accurately rendered knees, bending slightly under his weight as they support his slim upper body. He has a round face with a benevolent and sensitive expression, almond-shaped eyes, a wide nose and mouth and full lips. Large ears frame his face to either side. The braided hair is typical of Baphuon style Shiva images with a high chignon or jatamukuta. A pair of incised lines indicates a collar to his neck. The deity depicted here is more anatomically correct than earlier representations, although he is still idealised through the slightly exposed muscles and proportions with rounded limbs. For a similar example, see Wolfgang Felten and Martin Lerner, Thai and Cambodian Sculpture from the 6th to the 14th Centuries, 1988, cat. no. 22. Provenance: Private UK Collection Art Loss Register certificate: S00110064 Reference: 1. Wolfgang Felten and Martin Lerner, Thai and Cambodian Sculpture from the 6th to the 14th Centuries, 1988, p. 215.
4 HEAD OF VISHNU India (Western Rajasthan), 12th/13th century Height: 27 cm Width: 14.5 cm Depth: 11.8 cm
A carved and highly polished black basalt head of a deity, probably Vishnu, wearing a mukuta or crown decorated with jewellery and simhamukha (lion face) masks. His smooth and rounded face has the mouth closed with bow-shaped lips below a long, thin nose, leading up to a pair of prominent curved eyebrows above. His narrow almond shaped eyes are wide open, looking slightly down and with a powerful and concentrated gaze, their incised pupils and thick lids further intensify his expression. Framing his face above is a line of tight ”snail shell curls”, formed from his hair which falls in thick strands kept in place by plain thin bands. The unadorned face contrasts with the finely carved and intricate detail of the hair and elaborate mukuta above. The ornate squarish crown has a deeply carved pattern decorated with three
simhamukha panels and further hatched sections above, separated by jewelled borders and all below a lotus flower to the top. The tall elegant crown identifies the figure as either one of the Hindu deities Surya or Vishnu.1 His face is carved looking slightly downwards, suggesting that it would have been part of a sculpture placed high up in a temple.
Provenance: Collection of Dr and Mrs William T. Price, acquired from Sotheby’s, London, 15th June 1987, lot 214. William Price was an American neurosurgeon who in the late 1970s started collecting Indian sculpture after having already built up an impressive collection of Islamic carpets. Three hundred pieces from of his collection can be seen today in the Amarillo Museum of Art in Texas, USA. For further information on Dr Price and his collection, see http://www.amarilloart.org/ pachyderms/pricecollection Art Loss Register certificate: S00113508 Reference: 1. Pratapaditya Pal, Asian Art at The Norton Simon Museum, Vol. 1: Art from the Indian Subcontinent, 2003, p. 150.
5 SGR AFFITO BOWL Iran (Nishapur), 10th century Height: 7.6 cm Diameter: 21.7 cm
A sgraffito and underglaze-painted conical bowl on a strong but shallow foot-rim, in shades of green, ochre brown, yellow and white with a scratched design of a stylised flower decorating the interior. The bowl sits on a short foot, its exterior plain, but with a vibrantly painted interior in the sancai palette so common in Tang dynasty Chinese pottery from the seventh to tenth centuries. A scratched pattern of a large stylised quatrefoil flower covers the ground and deep cavetto, with a loose bud to its centre. Four radiating bands with double borders
and scrolling details decorate the centre of each large petal, the bands painted with a splash of brown, framed by green on either side, and then vibrant yellow to each petal edge, with small areas of the off-white slip still remaining. Further stylised decorative motifs fill the spandrels between the petals. Framing the central design is a dark and rich green rim. Outside, the pigments slightly overlap the rim. The rest of the body and the unglazed foot show the brown clay through the slip. Sgraffito pottery belongs to one of the most important and earliest groups of ceramic wares. The term sgraffito comes from the Italian sgraffire, meaning â€œto scratchâ€?.1 It has been suggested that the sgraffito technique was invented
and introduced by the Copts in Egypt as early as the fourth and fifth centuries AD. Sgraffito ware played an important role in Iranian pottery during the tenth to early thirteenth centuries and several types were developed. One of these as seen here, is when the design is incised into a ground slip and covered with coloured glazes and a colourless transparent glaze. For an identical bowl, see the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, no. 55.66.5. A related example is published in Kjeld von Folsach, Art from the World of Islam in The David Collection, 2001, p. 131, no. 103.
Reference: 1. James W. Allan, Islamic Ceramics, 1991, p. 12.
6 R A D I AT I N G S T R I P E S Iran (Kashan), 13th century Height: 9.2 cm Diameter: 20 cm
An underglaze-painted conical bowl in shades of blue, black and white, on a short vertical foot. The delicately modelled bowl features a white interior painted with a series of alternating double cobalt blue and black stripes radiating from a central roundel, known as the “panel style”. The stripes gently taper outwards and gain in thickness as they approach the rim. The exterior of the bowl is plain.
According to James W. Allan in his book Islamic Ceramics, 1991, p. 24, the use of abstract black and cobalt blue stripes as seen here would have been interpreted in a symbolic way, with the radiating blue lines reminding us of the sun’s rays. This bowl is a classic example of the “panel style”, so-called because of the division of the surface into radial panels that are distinguished by their separate patterns.
quartz, white clay and glass frit, created a finer, more delicate and far more luxurious ceramic on which to decorate. Similar examples can be seen in the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the David Collection, Copenhagen and the Tareq Rajab Museum, Kuwait.
In response to highly refined and envied Chinese ceramics, the Islamic potters developed a new and finer material than clay for their ceramic wares during the Seljuq period. Fritware, consisting of crushed
Christie’s, King Street, London, Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds, Thursday, 13th April 2010, lot 7. Literature: James W. Allan, Islamic Ceramics, 1991, p. 24.
7 F L O R A L O G I VA L C A R T O U C H E S Iran (Timurid, probably Nishapur), second half of the 15th century Height: 9 cm Diameter: 21.5 cm
An underglaze-painted hemispherical fritware bowl seated on a raised foot-rim, painted in a black slip and vibrant turquoise alkaline glaze, decorated to the interior with an asymmetrical pattern of four ogival cartouches containing stylised black floral sprays on a vibrant turquoise ground which surround a central bud with radiating petals, almost sun-like in their depiction. Delicate scrolling patterns scratched away from the thick black slip fill the remaining ground below numerous borders to the everted rim, both plain and decorative. To the turquoise exterior there is a wide border of geometric patterns. In the second half of the fifteenth century, the ceramic workshops of Nishapur set the standard for luxury wares influenced by the indigenous artistic culture. From the 1430s, the workshops benefited from the movement of artists released from
at Nishapur by Charles Wilkinson, together with Timurid and Safavid wasters and pottery fragments.3 The Nishapur attribution is supported by Géza Fehérvári in his discussion of a bowl of related design in Ceramics of the Islamic World in the Tareq Rajab Museum, 2000, pp. 235-236, no. 302, CER398TSR.
their enslavement in Samarkand. They imitated Chinese porcelain, but a distinctive style also developed out of a traditional Islamic palette of black and turquoise and the slip-carved technique introduced in the late twelfth century, as can be seen in examples in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, no. 73.5.281; and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, object number C.426-1991.
The bowls in this rare group are characterised by a design of ogee panels with floral motifs encircling a central roundel. The bowls were first painted in layers of black slip then incised with Chinese scrollwork designs possibly inspired by wares from the Cizhou kilns in Northern China, but also found on underglaze-painted wares from the fourteenth century. These designs were then covered with a transparent turquoise-tinted glaze.4 The decoration therefore reveals a combination of the silhouette and underglaze-painting techniques, with carved lobes and incised scrollwork complementing floral designs painted by brush.5 The designs were generally geometric in composition and possibly inspired by embroidered textiles. Four dishes in this Timurid style are dated between
This bowl belongs to a series of pieces formerly believed to be the earliest of the so-called “Kubachi” wares, due to their original discovery in the small village of Kubachi in Daghestan. Recent research published in a Royal Ontario Museum survey by Lisa Golombek, Robert B. Mason and Gauvin A. Bailey, Tamerlane’s Tableware: A New Approach to the Chinoiserie Ceramics of Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century Iran, 1996, attribute the group to Nishapur on the basis of an analysis of the clay.1 Nishapur, a town destroyed by the Mongols in the early thirteenth century, had recovered by the middle of the fifteenth century to become a pottery centre for the second time.2 The authors also draw on the evidence of two kilns excavated
1468 and 1494: the Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale in Rome, which is dated to 1468; the Victoria and Albert Museum dated to 1473; the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore dated to 1480; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, dated to 1494. There is another closely related but undated turquoise bowl with very similar ogival cartouches in the Metropolitan Museum, accession no. 17.120.70; this has been assigned to the second half of the fifteenth century. The bowl in the Tareq Rajab Museum has also been dated by Fehérvári to the second half of the fifteenth century.
Provenance: Christie’s, King Street, London, Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds, Thursday, 10th April 2014, lot 113. References: 1. Géza Fehérvári, Ceramics of the Islamic World in the Tareq Rajab Museum, 2000, pp. 235-236. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid.
8 CALLIGRAPHIC TILE Iran or Central Asia (Khwarazm Shahs period), dated AH 605/1208-9 AD Height: 52.5 cm Width: 30.5 cm Depth: 7 cm
A carved and glazed stone-paste calligraphic tile with an elegant Arabic inscription in thuluth. Reading from top to bottom, the inscription gives the date: “… in the year five and six hundred.” AH 605 = 1208-9 AD The tile is glazed in two shades of turquoise. A lighter hue resembling powder blue allows the inscription to stand out from the rich turquoise applied to the recessed ground of the tile and the surrounding arabesque of scrolling tendrils, trefoil blossoms, split-leaf palmettes and succinctly
coiled buds. Legibility is further increased by the inscription being carved on a slightly higher level than the vegetal scrolls. The tile has three raised borders to the top, left and bottom edges. The inscription breaks its confines and overlaps the border on the left. The date of 1208-9 in the inscription is of particular significance as it probably commemorates the construction of the monument, now unknown and no longer extant, of which it formed part of the ceramic revetment. While the tile with its gleaming turquoise glaze may be described as late Seljuq in style, the Seljuq dynasty, a branch of the Oghuz Turks, had collapsed by 1194 following a period of erosion begun in 1157 by an offshoot, the Khwarazm Shahs, also of Turkish origin.1 The death of the great Seljuq Sultan Ahmad Sanjar in 1156 precipitated the fragmentation of the empire. Initially confined to a region between the Caspian and Arat Seas, known as Chorasmia, the Khwarazm Shahs prodigiously expanded their territories. Following the fall of the Seljuqs, they controlled the whole of the Iranian plateau until the Mongol invasions of 1220.2 Ironically, the period of great experimentation and innovation in tile-work, including the use of lustre and the development of turquoise as the dominant colour in the architectural palette, deployed to cover increasingly large areas of domes and walls, began only in the last days of Seljuq rule. However, this highly productive period continued well after the Seljuq empire had split into smaller entities.3 Surviving Seljuq monuments dating from the eleventh to twelfth centuries are distinguished by the use of brick, enlivened by the scant and understated use of turquoise, rather than the combination of turquoise and cobalt blue, which only began to develop at the end of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth centuries, during the very last days of the declining Seljuqs,
overlapping the Khwarazm Shahs period, in monuments to the east of the Caspian Sea.4 According to Gérard Degeorge and Yves Porter, the measure of independence acquired by the Khwarazm Shahs from the Seljuqs by the end of the eleventh century was consolidated during the twelfth century, especially during the reigns of Il-Arslan (1156-1172) and Tekesh (1172-1200). In the town of Kunya Urgench, located in the north of present day Turkmenistan, lie the mausoleums of Il-Arslan, decorated with a turquoise-glazed diaper of diamonds and chevrons, and that of Sultan Tekesh.5 The latter monument initiated the large-scale use of relief-decorated ceramics coated in turquoise glaze in the buildings of Central Asia.6 The entire dome was once totally clad in turquoise brickwork. A band of carved and glazed monochrome turquoise calligraphy encircles the top of the drum, just beneath the dome.7 The Khwarazmid territories continued to expand in the first decades of the thirteenth century during the reign of CAla al-Din (1200-1220) before the Khwarazm Shahs were submerged beneath the incoming Mongol tidal wave. The present tile dated 1208-9 is therefore a product of Sultan CAla al-Din’s reign, during the climactic final phase of Khwarazmid technical innovation.
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Will Kwiatkowski for his expert advice and kind reading of the inscriptions. References: 1. Gérard Degeorge and Yves Porter, The Art of the Islamic Tile, 2002, p. 45; Gönül Öney, Ceramic Tiles in Islamic Architecture, 1987, p. 15; Venetia Porter, Islamic Tiles, 1995, p. 32. 2. Degeorge and Porter, 2002, pp. 46-47. 3. Ibid., pp. 45-46; Porter, 1995, p. 32. 4. Öney, 1987, pp. 16-17. 5. Degeorge and Porter, 2002, pp. 46-47. 6. Ibid. 7. Ibid.
9 MUQARNAS TILE Western Central Asia (Timurid, Samarkand), late 14th century Height: 30 cm Width: 16.5 cm Depth: 13.5 cm
An incised and glazed terracotta muqarnas tile, decorated in white and turquoise against a cobalt blue ground, the design of scrolling tendrils and split-leaves forming interlaced ogival cartouches that enclose and link two stylised lotus flowers. The lotus to the top has serrated turquoise petals enclosing a white centre taking the form of a lotus bud. The ogival cartouche in which the lotus is enclosed is most unusual. The blade-like leaves that normally form such enclosing cartouches are here depicted as storks or herons, each with an unglazed dot for the eye, a curve to the outline defining the head of the bird and a long incision defining the upper and lower mandibles of the beak. The points of the beaks pierce a heart-shape surmounting the tip of the lotus to form a knotted heart at the apex, just beneath the point of the muqarnas tile.
to enclose the lotus. The leaves interlace at the base of the birdsâ€™ necks and then the tips meet to support the lotus above. A crisp white border frames the design to the top and bottom. 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 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. Provenance: Private Collection assembled in the 1950s Private Scottish Collection
The necks of the birds begin their ascent from the tip of the lotus in the lower cartouche. This is a trefoil blossom with two white petals flanking a central turquoise petal. The lotus sits on a mound of bifurcating split-leaves that rise up
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. 216, cat. no. 453; catalogue published 2012.
10 M U LTA N T I L E Northern India (Multan), late 15th century Height: 23 cm Width: 22.3 cm
The red clay body of this unusual tile is covered with white slip and painted with washes of cobalt blue and turquoise within blue outlines under a transparent glaze. The central cross has been formed by cutting through the white slip to reveal the earthy red clay beneath. Radiating from the central cross are four flowers of bold geometric form that resemble palm trees and turn in an anti-clockwise direction, causing the glittering design to spin and move. Two cobalt blue flowers alternate with two turquoise flowers. From the angular stems and calyxes sprout diamond-shaped petals, giving each flower the impression of being constructed from a cluster of jewels. Simplified leaves set at right angles to the stems reach out to touch the central recessed cross. The red clay of the cross is framed by a blue outline set slightly back from the edge to give an inner border of white slip. A layer of glaze also covers the clay cross. Softening the crisp geometry of the design are the sinuous curves and hooks of half glimpsed cusped cobalt palmettes to the top and bottom, and turquoise palmettes to the sides. The glaze has a very fine crackle.
An almost identical tile in the Keir Collection in London, is illustrated and published in B. W. Robinson et al, Islamic Art in the Keir Collection, 1988, colour pl. 52, p. 232, no. C91. According to Oliver Watson in the Keir catalogue, this group of tiles is said to come from the tomb of a Sufi family dated circa 1480 and situated twenty miles outside Multan in present-day Pakistan.1 The technique, with the coloured painting on a white slip over a red clay body, is an interesting precursor of the present-day Multan wares, which use similar techniques.2 Tiles are rare in Indian architecture and their study is only at an elementary stage. It is not understood at present from where the technique derives.3 Watson observes that there is no obvious Persian inspiration in either technique or design, a fact that adds to the interest of the present tile, which like the Keir example, is one of very few in collections outside India. Many of the buildings in the Multan area are decorated with tiles similar to the piece illustrated here but their dates are, however, difficult to determine.4 Some occur on fourteenth century buildings, but the only tiles that bear a date are on the Tomb of Sayyid Khan and give a date of AH 1088/1677 AD.5 It may be that the tiles formed part of the later
renovations rather than the original decoration of the buildings.6 During the seventeenth and eighteenth century, the regions of Sind and Punjab were influenced artistically by the Mughal court and this is reflected in the evolution of the decorative vocabulary of ceramic tile-work, when Mughal naturalistic floral elements began to appear.7 The design of the present tile reflects the ethos and design aesthetic of a much earlier period. A group of identical tiles forms the border to an installation at the Linden-Museum, Stuttgart, in which a mihrab arch and the surrounding wall decoration has been reconstructed from Multan tiles. The Linden-Museum dates the tiles used in this reconstruction to the early fifteenth century.
References: 1. B. W. Robinson et al, Islamic Art in the Keir Collection, 1988, p. 232. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid. 7. GĂŠrard Degeorge and Yves Porter, The Art of the Islamic Tile, 2002, pp. 244 to 253, in which the authors discuss and illustrate the stylistic development of blue-and-white tiles in Sind and the Punjab.
11 B L U E A N D T U R Q U O I S E C A L L I G R A P H I C T I L E PA N E L Northern India (Mughal), 17th century Height: 23 cm Width: 62.5 cm Depth: 3.4 cm
punctuated with decorative loops. A contrasting turquoise glaze surrounds the cartouche. The inscription reads: ya’ni keh shaikh kani/koni (?) shod hall-e moshkel-e ma
A pair of tiles in the cuerda seca technique, forming a calligraphic panel with a Persian inscription in elegant nastaCliq, framed by a cusped cartouche with a cobalt blue ground. The inscription is written in a greyish white pigment outlined in grey and the cartouche is outlined with a thicker reddish brown border
“That is to say, Shaikh Kani (?) has become the solution to our difficulty.” We have not been able to identify the Shaikh referred to here. Because the small vowels are not written, the name could also be read as “Kuni”. Another possible reading is
that Kani or Kuni is the name of a place and that the inscription should be read as: “That is to say, the Shaikh of Kani has become the solution to our difficulty.”
as most Mughal cuerda seca tiles are predominantly a warm mixture of yellow, green, orange, ochre or reddish brown, with blue and turquoise used for highlights.
Calligraphic tiles in the cuerda seca technique formed part of the decorative scheme of Mughal monuments, and were set into both brick and stone buildings. Similar blue calligraphic tiles were used to decorate the mosque of Jahangir’s mother, Mariam Zamani, in Lahore.1 The palette, referred to as blue-and-white and demonstrating a Persian influence, is very unusual
Calligraphic tiles are also found in the mosque and tomb of the saint Shah Madin at But Kadal, Zabidal, near Srinagar in Kashmir; and the tomb of Zaina-ul-Abidin’s mother at Srinagar. 2 Calligraphic tiles were also probably used in the tomb of Asaf Khan in Lahore, which has cuerda seca tiles depicting floral designs. The tomb of the saint Qutb uddin Bakhtiyar Kaki at
Mahrauli, near Delhi, has cuerda seca floral decoration but without calligraphy.3 Two blue and turquoise calligraphic tile panels with similar nastaCliq inscriptions, each composed of a pair of tiles, are published in the Spink catalogue, Passion & Tranquility, 1998, pp. 76-79, cat. nos. 45a-b. One of these panels is now in the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore. A blue and turquoise calligraphic tile panel is illustrated in the Simon Ray 2004 catalogue, Indian & Islamic Works of Art, pp. 46-47, cat. no. 19. A yellow and green cuerda seca
calligraphic tile in the David Collection, Copenhagen, is published in Kjeld von Folsach, Art from the World of Islam in The David Collection, 2001, p. 196, no. 290. Related calligraphic tiles are in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Lahore Museum.
Jahan’s time, when the tiles were installed.
1. Personal communication with Tanvir
Similarly, the earlier tombs of Mariam Zamani
Hasan who kindly helped us with information
and Qutb uddin Bakhtiyar Kaki were also
regarding the location of cuerda seca tiles in
installed with cuerda seca tiles during the
Shah Jahan period, which allows us to date
2. Personal communication with Tanvir
the tiles to the mid seventeenth century.
Hasan. 3. Personal communication with Robert
Skelton who also kindly advised us on
Ram Chandra Kak, Ancient Monuments of
Mughal tiles. See also the catalogue entries
Kashmir, 1933, pp. 91-93.
on Mughal cuerda seca tiles by Rosemary
Tanvir Hasan, “Ceramics of Sultanate India”,
Crill and Robert Skelton in Robert Skelton
South Asian Studies, No. 11, 1995, pp. 83-106.
Private French Collection
et al, The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts
Tariq Masood, “Glazed Tiles from Mian Mir’s
under Mughal Rule, 1982, p. 23, nos. 5-10.
Complex”, Lahore Museum Bulletin, Vol. 2,
According to Crill, the tomb of Shah Madin
No. 1, Jan-June 1989, pp. 45-51.
We would like to thank Will Kwiatkowski
dates to the mid fifteenth century but was
for his kind reading of the inscription.
refurbished by a Mughal nobleman in Shah
12 THE VIC TORY OF THE PROPHET ELIJAH Syria (Aleppo), dated 1699 Height: 16 cm Width: 15.5 cm
An underglaze-painted fritware tile in black, turquoise, grey, pale yellow and manganese on a blue ground, representing the victory of the Prophet Elijah over the Prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, within a plaited border, the lower border with a long signature and date: amal-e Musa ibn Estafani fi madinat Halab sanat 1699 “The work of Musa, son of Stephen, in the town of Aleppo, 1699”. The biblical story of Elijah’s defeat of the Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18) is one of two known tile designs with Christian subjects, created and signed by the Aleppo tile-maker Musa, son of Stephen, in 1699. The other design depicts St. George slaying the Dragon. A few examples of each design have survived; these are now in museums and private collections including the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg; the Musée du Louvre, Paris; the Keir Collection, London; the Nasrallah Collection, Paris; and the Collection of George Antaki, Beirut. The tiles exhibit slight variations in size, colour, border decoration and compositional details, but all retain the template of each design and have the name, place and date inscribed along the bottom edge. No rain has fallen on Israel for three years, a judgement by God on the citizens for their idolatrous worship of Baal and Asherah, pagan deities
brought to Israel by the Phoenician princess Jezebel who marries King Ahab. Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to a contest in front of the king and all the citizens in order to demonstrate the power of the true God. Elijah asks the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal to sacrifice a bull, cut the carcass into pieces and place these on an altar but not to set fire to the wood. Elijah will do the same and they will then call upon their respective gods to light the altar by sending a bolt of fire from the sky. The god that answers by setting the wood on fire will be proclaimed the true God.
Moura Carvalho and Clement Onn et al, Christianity in Asia: Sacred Art and Visual Splendour, 2016, p. 53, cat. no. 11. According to Etienne Blondeau, these Aleppo tiles, made in multiples as demonstrated by surviving examples, were probably tangible holy images to aid worship. Aleppo was known for the production of icons painted on wood and in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was home to a distinguished family of musawwirun (image makers). Blondeau proposes that the tile with Elijah, more modest than icons painted on wood, was intended for the intimacy of a domestic setting rather than a church.
The prophets of Baal begin by praying and dancing around their altar from dawn till dusk but nothing happens and Baal does not answer. In the evening, Elijah prepares his altar from twelve stones, one for each tribe led by a son of Jacob, then digs a ditch around the altar. He piles the altar with wood and places his bull on top, then pours water over the meat and wood until the water runs off the altar and fills the ditch. He then prays to his Lord to prove that he is the God of Israel and change the minds of the people. The Lord sends fire from the heavens which burns the sacrifice, the wood and the stones, and dries up the water in the ditch. When the people see this they fall to the ground crying, “The Lord is God!” Elijah orders the capture of the prophets of Baal and kills them in the Valley of Kishon. Soon after, heavy rains fall to end the drought.
Two tiles depicting St. George and the Dragon in the Keir Collection, London, are illustrated in B. W. Robinson (ed.), Islamic Art in the Keir Collection, 1988, pp. 278, 280-281, nos. C151a and b. Oliver Watson observes that the few tiles from the group are the only pieces known that indicate pottery production in Aleppo in the seventeenth century. Another tile depicting St. George is discussed by Yury A. Pyatnitsky in Mikhail B. Piotrovsky and Anton D. Pritula (eds.), Beyond the Palace Walls: Islamic Art from the State Hermitage Museum, 2006, pp. 118-119, cat. no. 116. Pyatnitsky traces the iconography to Byzantine art, where anecdotal ceramic tiles were used in cathedrals in Constantinople, Nicea (Iznik), Nicomedia and medieval Bulgaria in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Contemporaneous with Aleppo tile production is the parallel tradition of figurative tiles with Christian subjects made by Armenian craftsmen in Kütahya, examples of
A tile from the Louvre illustrating the triumph of Elijah was recently exhibited at the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, and published in Alan Chong (ed.) with Pedro
which decorate the Surp Hagop (St. James’s) Armenian Monastery in Jerusalem. These Kütahya tiles were made two decades after the Aleppo tiles, in 1719. In terms of style and iconography, tiles from both centres were clearly inspired by Greek icons. Pyatnitsky observes that the creation of the tiles by Musa could have been influenced by Church confrontation in Aleppo. Between the early seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries, Aleppo witnessed the struggle for the Antiochian Patriarchal See, when Turkish authorities appointed two church hierarchs, Cyril (1672-1720) and Athanasius IV (1686-1724), to occupy the See simultaneously. Pyatnitsky detects in the chosen subjects of St. George killing the dragon and Elijah defeating the false prophets, a commentary on the disgrace of one of the claimants, from which the Patriarchal See needed to be similarly liberated. As the political struggle between the two claimants was highly complicated, it is unclear which of these hierarchs was responsible for the order of the tiles, but Pyatnitsky cites evidence suggesting that Patriarch Cyril, who resided in Aleppo at the time, commissioned the creation of the tiles. A tile with St. George slaying the Dragon is published in Arthur Millner, Damascus Tiles: Mamluk and Ottoman Architectural Ceramics from Syria, 2015, p. 303, fig. 6.134. Millner observes that the icon-like tile predates Qajar tiles in style and technique. Provenance: Private French Collection since the 1960s
13 TA M B O U R I N E P L AY E R Iran (Safavid), 17th century
Portrayed against a vibrant sage green ground indicative of a concert en plein air, the tambourine player would have been part of a larger group of musicians, dancers and singers. It is possible that the performance takes place in front of a tent, part of which can be glimpsed behind the player: a blue fabric door or tent panel with wooden ochre frames on the left, and a yellow tent pole hinting at the unseen awning that it supports above on the right. A pair of leaves in cobalt blue and white emerges from the lower right corner of the tile as rapid notation of the luxuriant blossoms within the verdant field.
Height: 23.7 cm Width: 23.5 cm
A tile in the cuerda seca technique in shades of yellow, cobalt blue, turquoise, sage green, ochre and white with a charming design of a musician within a landscape. Part of a much larger panel, this particular tile concentrates on a tambourine or daf player as he raises his instrument with both hands, making it the focal point of the composition. His tambourine has a rich dark ochre centre with a turquoise outline. His showmanship makes the scene not only a musical but a visual spectacle as well.
The tile represents a captured moment of a musical event and as such has a dynamic movement and personality often lacking in other Safavid tiles of the era. We can almost feel the pounding rhythm of the tambourine. The design would have formed part of a tile panel decorating a palace or garden pavilion in Isfahan. Springtime scenes of outdoor feasts or entertainments were extremely popular in Safavid art and poetry.
He kneels on the ground with his knees facing to his right, his shoulders turned so as to directly face the viewer parallel to the picture plane. Wearing a crisp white tunic with cobalt lapels over a vibrant yellow shirt, the musician looks down and to his left, concentrating on the rhythmical playing of the tambourine, or perhaps distracted by someone in the observing crowd. The turn of his head increases the elegant contrapposto of his pose. He sports a rounded turquoise hat with an ochre band, colours that complement those of the tambourine.
For a tile depicting a tambourine player performing at an outdoor musical event alongside dancers with maracas or castanets, see our Simon Ray Indian & Islamic Works of Art catalogue of November 2015, pp. 28-29, cat. no. 12.
14 CALLIGRAPHIC TILE Iran (Safavid), dated AH 1133/1720-1721 AD
that was once in the collection of the eminent dealer and collector Saeed Motamed (1925-2013) who lived in Frankfurt. Though the tiles from this group may be by more than one hand and may range in time of manufacture across several decades of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, they all share similar characteristics of thuluth calligraphy against a cobalt blue ground. Though fragmentary, they form a cohesive group, which suggests that they might have all come from one monument.
Height: 23.7 cm Width: 23.7 cm
A tile in the cuerda seca technique, which would have formed part of an inscription panel, with elegant thuluth calligraphy in crisp white against a rich cobalt blue ground. The tile has a white border to the bottom of the tile and a turquoise diagonal border to the upper left. In the upper left is part of an oval floral cartouche within a yellow border. Flowers and leaves mingle with further calligraphy on a blue ground.
Provenance: The Saeed Motamed Collection, Frankfurt Saeed Motamed started collecting Islamic
This tile comes from a group of calligraphic tiles and tile fragments
art in 1953 and continued to do so until the early 1990s.
15 CALLIGRAPHIC TILE Turkey (Iznik), circa 1580 Height: 21 cm Width: 24.8 cm
An underglaze-painted rectangular calligraphic tile, inscribed in elegant white thuluth reserved against a vibrant cobalt blue ground, with emerald green and sealing wax red details. The dark cobalt blue has been thickly applied and the artist’s brushstrokes can be clearly seen as the crisp white calligraphy punctuates the ground. Three small white cintamani balls decorate the field as well as a stylised white tulip to the bottom, with a single emerald green leaf and detailed with raised red spots to the
three white petals. It bends to the right as if blown by an unseen breeze. The tile originally would have formed part of a calligraphic frieze. The inscription is a fragment of a verse in Ottoman Turkish; a suggested reading may be: “Its stone is ruby and its rose garden (?)…” The references to stone, ruby and possibly a rose garden, like the roof and sphere mentioned in the inscription of the accompanying calligraphic tile in catalogue no. 16, are entirely suitable for an architectural inscription.
Mosque in Istanbul and a further example is published in Hülya Bilgi, Dance of Fire: Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in the Sadberk Hanim Museum and Ömer M. Koç Collections, 2009, pp. 192-193, cat. no. 97. For a calligraphic panel with similar stylised floral motifs, see Ahmet Ertuğ and Walter Denny, Gardens of Paradise: 16th Century Turkish Ceramic Tile Decoration, 1998, p. 94.
Provenance: Mrs Zeïneb Lévy-Despas Collection Zeïneb et Jean-Pierre Marcie-Rivière Acknowledgement:
A complete panel of similar calligraphic tiles including the border can be seen in situ in the Atik Valide
We would like to thank Will Kwiatkowski for his expert advice and kind reading of the inscription.
16 CALLIGRAPHIC TILE Turkey (Iznik), circa 1580 Height: 21 cm Width: 24.8 cm
An underglaze-painted rectangular calligraphic tile with two stylised flowers appearing in the background, inscribed in elegant white thuluth reserved against a vibrant cobalt blue ground, with emerald green and sealing wax red details. The dark cobalt blue has been thickly applied and the artist’s brushstrokes can be clearly seen as the crisp white calligraphy punctuates the ground. Part of a stylised rosette flower with white petals surrounding smaller emerald inner petals and a central bud with raised sealing wax red detail can be seen to the bottom edge. To the top of the tile, a further stylised
spray emerges from a horizontal section of script, the flower painted with five white petals containing a central red bud and further smaller red splashes. A single emerald green leaf appears from above the flower whilst below, the white stem and a further leaf rises from the text. The tile originally would have formed part of a calligraphic frieze. The inscription is a fragment of a verse in Ottoman Turkish; a suggested reading is:
A complete panel of similar calligraphic tiles including the border can be seen in situ in the Atik Valide Mosque in Istanbul and a further example is published in Hülya Bilgi, Dance of Fire: Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in the Sadberk Hanim Museum and Ömer M. Koç Collections, 2009, pp. 192-193, cat. no. 97. For a calligraphic panel with similar stylised floral motifs, see Ahmet Ertuğ and Walter Denny, Gardens of Paradise: 16th Century Turkish Ceramic Tile Decoration, 1998, p. 94.
“…under its roof, this sphere(?)…”
Provenance: Mrs Zeïneb Lévy-Despas
The references to the roof and sphere, and the stone, ruby and rose garden mentioned in the inscription of the accompanying calligraphic tile in catalogue no. 15, are entirely suitable for an architectural inscription.
Collection Zeïneb et Jean-Pierre Marcie-Rivière Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Will Kwiatkowski for his expert advice and kind reading of the inscription.
17 C O N F R O N T E D FA L C O N S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1575 Height: 25.2 cm Width: 25.2 cm
An underglaze-painted square tile in polychrome shades of cobalt blue, sealing wax red and emerald green against a white ground, with a rare and highly unusual asymmetrical design of a pair of large and confronted stylised birds framing a centrally placed selsebil (fountain) from which issue forth various floral sprays that also fill the remaining ground. The focal point of this tile is of course the two vibrantly painted birds, both with plumage coloured in a rich emerald green hue which reaches into the delicately drawn spiky feathers seen to the breasts of both. The wings are portrayed as a series of thick parallel brushstrokes in strong cobalt blue, each highlighted by traces of the white slip ground, with larger feathers indicated by overlapping diamond motifs. Numerous raised spots of sealing wax red punctuate the tops of each wing, with further raised red decoration applied to the beaks, clawed feet and round eyes of the birds. According to Walter Denny, the birds depicted with their curved beaks and powerful talons are clearly falcons, a symbol of royalty and the royal hunt. 1 The confronted falcons face a centrally placed cobalt blue selsebil in fluted sections and with emerald and sealing wax red detail. Arcing hyacinth sprays with green stems and blue flowers in different hues emerge from the top of the fountain, separated by a single large carnation with a green calyx, and blue and red spiked flowers. Framing the birds are
large and heavily stylised serrated saz leaves, bifurcated in colours of blue and delicately painted sealing wax red to their outer borders. Rosette sprays add further decoration to the upper tips of the saz leaves and there is a beautiful interplay with the falcons as the leaves overlap their long feathery tails below. Further stylised saz leaves in green and blue cover the white slip ground below the birds, surrounding a central floral spray and the top of a cusped red carnation flower to the bottom edge. Delicate curving tendrils and rosette sprays fill the remaining ground and add a sense of movement to the tile. The almost heraldic device of two confronted birds sometimes with a fountain between them descends from an animal motif of ancient lineage in Turkish iconography that possibly has its roots in Anatolian carpets.2 The birds are supposed to represent the soul and the water to represent life. It has been suggested that this falcon tile was originally produced for a private dwelling as religious structures would typically employ only floral motifs, arabesques or inscriptions.3 The depiction of birds on plates and other “home” wares can be seen in known examples right from the beginning of Iznik production in the late fifteenth century onwards, with published examples such as a blue and white plate in Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, 1989, colour plate 339; and the Damascus-ware peacock plate in Sophie Makariou, Islamic Art at the Musée du Louvre, 2012, pp. 376-377. A similar pair of confronted falcons or parrots can be seen on a flask from about 1480 in John Carswell, Iznik: Pottery for the Ottoman Empire, 2003, pp. 22-23. However,
the depiction of birds on tiles which were primarily used as architectural elements is incredibly rare. A tile of a similar date with a peacock can be seen in the Musée national de la Céramique, Sèvres and is published in Frédéric Hitzel and Mireille Jacotin, Iznik: L’aventure d’une collection, 2005, p. 284, fig. 51. There are only seven other known examples of this falcon series all of which are in the following museum collections: the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, object number C.139-1933; the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington DC, accession number F1966.12 (published in Esin Atil, Ceramics from the World of Islam, 1973, pp. 190-191); the Benaki Museum, Athens; the Art Museum of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev; the Detroit Institute of Arts, accession number 25.36; the Musée du Louvre (published in Walter B. Denny, Iznik: The Artistry of Ottoman Ceramics, 2004, p. 190); and finally the Sadberk Hanim Museum (published in Hülya Bilgi, Dance of Fire: Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in the Sadberk Hanim Museum and Ömer M. Koç Collections, 2004, pp. 456-57, no. 456).
Provenance: This magnificent tile was given as a gift to the owner’s step-grandfather in the early twentieth century whilst he was working as a consultant mining engineer in Turkey. It was brought back to England with him in the mid twentieth century where it passed, on his death to the owner’s grandmother and then by descent to the current owner. References: 1. Walter B. Denny, Iznik: The Artistry of Ottoman Ceramics, 2004, p. 186. 2. Ibid. 3. Esin Atil, Ceramics from the World of Islam, 1973, pp. 190-191.
18 T U L I P S , S A Z L E AV E S A N D C O M P O S I T E S P R AY S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1580 Height: 25 cm Width: 25 cm
A polychrome underglaze-painted square tile in shades of emerald green, sealing wax red, turquoise and cobalt blue against a white ground with a design of spiralling stylised floral sprays. The focal point of the tile is the pair of vibrant sealing wax red tulips to the centre, with one facing down and left and the other up and right. They are attached to thin delicate cobalt stems which scroll across the tile connecting to cobalt and turquoise composite lotus sprays and large emerald green serrated saz leaves detailed with small rosette sprays. Two opposing corners also show parts of larger crenel-edged cartouches. This tile is quite unusual in that the design
finishes a few millimetres short of the tile’s edges. The glaze also goes right to the slightly rounded edges of all four sides, suggesting that this tile could have been on its own instead of being part of a much larger panel. A tile with a similar spiralling design of floral sprays can be seen in Hülya Bilgi, Dance of Fire: Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in the Sadberk Hanim Museum and Ömer M. Koç Collections, 2009, p. 220. A tile with the same design can be seen in Katerina Korre-Zographou, The Iznik Ceramics of the Monastery of the Panaghia Panakhrantou, 2012, p. 114. Identical tiles can be seen in situ in the Eyup and Rüstem Pasha mosques in Istanbul. Tiles of exactly this design are about the only examples in Rüstem Pasha to include an emerald green colour and must therefore be amongst the earliest examples of its use in Iznik ceramics.
19 STORM IN A TEACUP Turkey (Iznik), circa 1590 Diameter: 26.4 cm
An underglaze-painted polychrome dish in shades of cobalt blue, sealing wax red, black and emerald green against a crisp white ground. The design depicts stylised roses, tulips and a single saz leaf filling the main field, the pattern commonly referred to as a “storm in a teacup”. To the border is a breaking wave motif. The stylised floral sprays dominate the ground, each competing for space and attention. Three cobalt blue tulips have red and white calyxes and emerge from thin stems with wavy emerald green leaves. The stems that support them twist and turn under the weight of the flowers, as if blown by an unseen breeze. Three large sealing wax red roses intertwine with the tulips, their stems bearing small serrated emerald green leaves.
A single cobalt blue saz leaf emerges from the edge of the cavetto to the bottom of the dish, covering the majority of the floral stems which grow from a leafy mound below. The saz leaf, with its sharp serrated leaves contains an inner white and raised red striped tulip. Further small scrolling cobalt cartouches decorate the main field to the border, and a central sealing wax red quatrefoil cartouche decorates the ground. A thin double-lined black border separates the pattern of floral sprays from the rim, where a stylised breaking wave or “ammonite scroll” design can be seen. Simple alternating cartouches in green and cobalt blue decorate the back of the dish, as well as an old paper gallery label: “WALON FRERES S. A. OBJETS ENDOMAGES”. For a similar dish, see Frédéric Hitzel and Mireille Jacotin, Iznik: L’aventure d’une collection: Les céramiques
ottomanes du musée national de la Renaissance Château d’Écouen, 2005, p.186, no. 240; Hülya Bilgi, Dance of Fire: Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in the Sadberk Hanim Museum and Ömer M. Koç Collections, 2009, p. 270, cat. no. 155; and Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, 1989, p. 312, no. 698.
Provenance: Collection of Édouard Aynard, a French politician in the early 20th century
20 F I S H S C A L E S A N D S A Z L E AV E S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1580
A polychrome underglaze-painted rimless dish in shades of cobalt blue, sealing wax red and emerald green against a white slip ground. The design depicts a cusped cartouche floating above two large saz leaves on a fish scale ground within a thin geometric border.
a central cusped ogival cartouche with an emerald border. Within this, the fish scale motif changes colour to a sealing wax red hue. Outside of the saz leaves, the fish scale ground is emerald green, with two cusped borders to the cavetto in raised red. The thin white border to the edge of the dish has a simple decorative geometric pattern. To the reverse are stylised five-petalled rosettes in cobalt blue, which alternate with bunches of floral sprays.
The asymmetrical pattern to the main field features a ground of stylised overlapping fish scales divided by a large pair of white serrated saz leaves which grow from a cobalt blue leafy mound to the bottom of the cavetto. Each saz leaf contains a vertical row of repeated sealing wax red rosettes. A small single emerald leaf decorates each saz to its inside edge, whilst to the outside, part of a white rosette with a raised red bud and single blue leaf can be seen. Between the saz leaves, a cobalt fish scale ground edged in white frames
For a similar example of a rimless dish with a fish scale design, see Hülya Bilgi, Dance of Fire: Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in the Sadberk Hanim Museum and Ömer M. Koç Collections, 2009, p. 301, cat. no.179; and Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, 1989, colour plate 744. For a similar main field of fish scales and saz leaves, see Frédéric Hitzel and Mireille Jacotin, Iznik: L’aventure d’une collection: Les céramiques ottomanes du musée national de la Renaissance Château d’Écouen, 2005, p. 86, nos. 45 and 47.
Diameter: 30.2 cm
21 C U S P E D C A R T O U C H E S A N D PA L M E T T E S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1590 Diameter: 30 cm
An underglaze-painted polychrome dish in shades of emerald green, sealing wax red, cobalt blue and black against a white ground depicting a pattern of five cusped medallions surrounded by smaller stylised cartouches, floral sprays and a breaking wave border. The main field has a design of five similar cusped ogival medallions, each painted with a vibrant emerald green border, and white and green central
palmette on a cobalt ground. In between the medallions on the cavetto are split-leaf palmette cartouches, painted in a rich raised sealing wax red with stylised single floral sprays within each one. To the centre of the dish is a composite floral rosette, with blue and green petals, red buds and small decorative flowers to the edge. Further trefoil palmettes and splashes of sealing wax red cover the remaining white ground. Between black lined borders, the rim has a pattern of breaking wave motifs or “ammonite scrolls” painted in cobalt blue and black, with splashes of green. To the reverse of the dish are small alternating trefoil and round palmettes in cobalt blue. For a dish with similar cusped ogival medallions, see Frédéric Hitzel and Mireille Jacotin, Iznik: L’aventure d’une collection: Les céramiques ottomanes du musée national de la Renaissance Château d’Écouen, 2005, p. 271, no. 410. Provenance: Private Paris Collection
22 C H I N E S E L A P P E T S A N D S P L I T- L E A F PA L M E T T E S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1600 Diameter: 30.2 cm
A polychrome underglaze-painted dish in shades of cobalt blue, sealing wax red, turquoise and black against a white ground depicting a large central roundel filled with split-leaf palmettes and surrounded to the cavetto by large floral lappets and a breaking wave border. The unusual central pattern depicts spiralling split-leaf palmettes in white, bordered in black with splashes of red against a vibrant turquoise ground, all connected by curving tendrils and emanating from a small stylised rosette to the centre. A triple-lined border separates this roundel from a repeated meander of large chinoiserie style trefoil lappets, each with a cobalt border and containing a smaller inner turquoise lappet with a white stylised rosette spray. The lappets are all edged to the top with a thick and raised border of sealing wax red or Armenian bole. Framing this design to the rim is a breaking wave motif pattern in cobalt blue, turquoise and black. Alternating single rosettes and floral sprays decorate the underside of the dish. An identical dish can be seen in Bernard Rackham, Islamic Pottery and Italian Maiolica, 1959, p. 44 and plate 86c. According to Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, “…it should be noted that arabesques were not commonly used on their own in 16th century Ottoman decoration. When they were used on Iznik though, the result was often a fine blend of vigour and excellence.”1
piece is clearly evident. The Yuan dynasty used a “breaking wave” motif to the rim, seen here in a more stylised and expressive form.2 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.3 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”.4 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 large stylised floral lappets to the cavetto of our dish recall elements of “Kraak” blue-and-white porcelain from sixteenth century China and the use of simple floral decoration on the underside of the cavetto also echoes Ming dynasty porcelain. Provenance: Private Paris Collection References: 1. Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, 1989, p. 260. 2. John Carswell, Iznik Pottery, 1998, p. 82. 3. Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik:
The influence of early Chinese blue-and-white porcelain on this
The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, 1989, p. 121. 4. Ibid.
23 S A Z L E A F, T U L I P A N D F L O R A L S P R AY S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1650
A deep, rimless polychrome underglaze-painted dish in colours of cobalt blue, turquoise, sealing wax red and black against a white slip ground with a design of stylised floral and leafy sprays.
sprays and stylised rosettes as well as one isolated tulip flower. Twisting tear-shaped and elongated leaves decorate the stems, each painted with splashes of blue to their white ground. Small floral cartouches punctuate the double-lined edge of the main field that separates the floral patterns from the geometric lozenge border, painted in white and sealing wax red with a black outline. To the reverse of the dish are small alternating stylised floral motifs.
The focal point of the dish is the large reverse S-shaped serrated saz leaf to the centre that dominates the turquoise ground, emanating from a cobalt blue leafy mound to the cavetto and decorated with a vertical line of raised sealing wax red buds to its centre. Two large composite flowers surround it, each filled with small floral sprays, their stems bending under the weight of the luxuriant blossoms, or as if blown by an unseen breeze. They compete for space with smaller composite
Dating to the later period of Iznik production, this piece has a much looser design, with thicker outlines and an unusual turquoise ground, rarely seen in earlier ceramics. For an earlier dish which could perhaps have inspired our later example, see image no. 2010EA5996-01 in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. A dish with a similar treatment of a saz leaf that has been assigned a date of circa 1650-1675 by the authors can be seen in Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, 1989, p. 282, no. 657.
Diameter: 27 cm
24 T U L I P S A N D C A R N AT I O N S Italy (Florence), circa 1895 By Ulisse Cantagalli Diameter: 39 cm
A polychrome underglaze-painted dish in shades of cobalt blue, black, emerald green and sealing wax red against a white ground, depicting a scene of a large central cusped cartouche and stylised floral sprays with a repeated rosette border to the wide rim. The focal point of the dish is the large central cusped medallion, painted in a vibrant sealing wax red and filled with a composite lotus flower surrounded by stylised tulips, rosettes and carnation sprays which all emerge from a cobalt blue and red crescent cartouche to the bottom. The design is all against an off-white ground. The deep cavetto has designs of cintamani balls and tiger stripes below large composite half-rosettes, all painted against a rich
cobalt ground. To the rim is a border of white repeated slanted oval designs punctuated with small green rosette sprays. To the reverse of the dish are single polychrome floral sprays with cobalt petals surrounding a small centrally placed cockerel motif. This large dish by Cantagalli loosely copies earlier sixteenth century designs from Iznik in Turkey, where patterns and colours greatly influenced certain European artists in the later part of the nineteenth century, such as Samson, William De Morgan, Theodore Deck and Ulisse Cantagalli. The dish manages to replicate the famous hues of cobalt blue, emerald green and the raised red for which Iznik ceramics were famous.
25 EMERALD WINE CUP India (Mughal), 18th century carved emeralds set with gold mounts dated AH 1300/1882-3 AD
Emerald Cup Overall Measurements: Height: 12.7 cm Width: 6.7 cm Depth: 5.9 cm Emerald Receptacle Measurements: Height: 5 cm Width: 6.7 cm Depth: 5.9 cm
flanked by leaves. The gold fittings are carved, chased, hatched and punched on the surface and also worked in repoussé to give a variety of textures and floral motifs. The gold stem supporting the cup rises above splayed mounts that enclose a second smaller emerald that functions as the foot of the cup. The gold hexagonal frame of the underside is inscribed with the date of the month of Safar in the year (sahar) 1300 or 1882-3 AD.
Weight: 411 grams
Inscribed in Persian on the base of the gold mount: “Safar (?) from (?) year 1300/1882-3 AD.” An emerald wine cup consisting of a large emerald to the top carved as the receptacle with a hexagonal rim and circular interior cross-section, set with gold fittings and mounted on a gold stem with leaf-shaped clasps holding the receptacle. Each of the six faces of the cup is boldly carved in relief with a different flower on a stem
The emerald at the foot is also carved on each of its six faces with a floral spray and underneath, framed by the inscribed hexagon of gold, is a composite flower-head with layers of radiating petals. Cups carved from large Mughal emeralds are very rare. A hexagonal cup with a short
splayed emerald foot is in the Al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait National Museum. This is illustrated in Manuel Keene with Salam Kaoukji, Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals, 2001, p. 133, fig. 11.11. This miniature cup measuring 4.1 cm in height is carved from one emerald retaining the crystal form, the upper part of the receptacle green with bluish undertones blending to opaque material at the base. The faces are inscribed with Persian verses. Keene assigns a Mughal or Deccani provenance for this cup and dates it to the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century. A green emerald cup of similar form to the present with emeralds forming the cup, stem and foot is in the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar. This is published in Sabiha al Khemir, From Cordoba to Samarqand: Masterpieces from the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, 2006, pp. 98-99. The cup is also hexagonal in structure and the interior of the cup is smooth and undecorated. The exterior of the cup is carved with a
honeycomb design framed by bands of chevrons that accentuate its architectural shape. A rosette circled in gold embellishes the base of the foot. According to al Khemir, the great significance attached to the cup as a symbol of sovereignty from ancient times meant that it was often made in a precious stone, such as jade, but emerald cups are rare. Khemir dates the Doha emerald cup to the seventeenth century and observes that its small size, precious material and the deep translucent green make the cup an exquisite object indicative of the refined lifestyle of the Mughal court. The hexagonal form of all three cups relates to the mineral qualities of the emerald. Emeralds and aquamarines are colour varieties of the silicate mineral known as beryl which crystallises as six-sided prisms. The craftsmen who made the cups followed the natural prismatic qualities of large emeralds.
dating to the seventeenth century, the emeralds are smaller as are the overall dimensions of the cups. The exceptionally large size of the emeralds in both the receptacle and foot of the present cup as well as the rich green colour of the gemstones add to its remarkable presence and visual impact. According to Robert Skelton, the inscription on the base of the cup is characteristic of a treasury inscription from a wealthy Rajput or Nawabi court. It follows the Mughal fashion of recording the entry of a prized object into the royal inventory with a Persian inscription and a Hijri date, a practice that was followed even in some Hindu courts as Persian was considered the language of culture and used in administration. Though it is impossible to ascertain with any degree of certainty the court treasury (toshkana) from which
our carved emerald cup emanates, we speculate that a court such as Baroda, famous for its collection of jewels, could be a likely candidate. In addition, the gold fittings have a European feel and the cup bears some resemblance to a chalice. The Maharajas of Baroda were much influenced by European art forms in their tastes. There were important Catholic families living within Baroda including the Bourbons who married into the Baroda royal family. The presence of a Catholic cathedral, churches and works of art would have amplified the visual references. Finally, though Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III ascended the gaddi (throne) of Baroda in 1875, being a minor he reigned under a Council of Regency until he came of age and was invested with full ruling powers on 28th December 1881. It is possible that the inscribed date 1882-3 on the base of our emerald cup commemorates his first year of full rule. Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Robert Skelton
Though the carving of the emeralds in both the Kuwait and Doha cups is earlier,
for his expert advice and Will Kwiatkowski for his kind reading of the inscription.
26 G E M - S E T R O C K C R Y S TA L FLUTED CUP AND COVER
Northern India, early 19th century Overall measurements: Height: 8.8 cm Diameter: 8.5 cm Cup: Height: 5.8 cm Diameter: 8.2 cm Cover: Height: 3.1 cm Diameter: 8.5 cm
A carved, polished and gem-set rock crystal octofoil cup and cover standing on a splayed foot. The eight-lobed cup with widening rim is elaborately inlaid with gold wire outlines and set with rose-cut diamonds, rubies, white sapphires and emeralds in the kundan technique to depict a floral spray on each fluted surface. The lobed cover is similarly decorated with floral sprays radiating from the bud-shaped finial. The technique of fastening the gold to the surface of the rock crystal with the aid of delicate pins can be seen on the smoothly polished interior of the cup and cover. These are not separate pins of gold but extremely pure and malleable gold pushed into holes drilled into the hard rock crystal when the hyper-purified gold is soft and ductile. The gold settings and gemstones on the exterior of the cup stand proud of the surface in undulating relief to give a richly encrusted texture of great opulence and refinement.
Two related designs are used for the decoration of the lobes, each consisting of a symmetrically tiered floral spray. The first design has a six-petalled flower towering over a profuse arabesque of vines with a ruby petal at the central interstice. The second design places this six-petalled flower at the centre of each lobe, from which sprout scrolling vines with pendant leaves, surmounted by a quatrefoil flower to the top just beneath the rim of the cup. The visual rise and fall of the same six-petalled flower in alternate lobes creates a dancing rhythm for the eyes. The floral sprays grow from stylised mounds and each lobe is outlined by a frame of gold. The foot of the cup is plain, affording visual relief from the abundance above, enhanced only by a simple ring of gold at the base. The decoration of the cover continues the theme of alternating floral sprays. A greater contrast of colour between lobes is achieved by alternating four floral sprays set primarily with green emeralds with four floral sprays set with red rubies. Another variant to the decoration on the body is the absence of demarcating gold wire between the lobes so that the surface decoration forms an integral whole, yet order is maintained by the gentle swell of each lobe
that defines the segments. The lobed rim is outlined by gold and the lotus bud finial is encircled by a ring of gold. Five sapphires in cusped leaf-shaped collets decorate the finial. 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 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
carving reached new heights.3 His treasures included boxes from Europe, a crystal cup supposedly from Iraq which he gave to Shah C Abbas 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.
Provenance: Elsie Tritton, Godmersham Park House, Kent Elsie Tritton was a native New Yorker who inherited the Careras Black Cat tobacco fortune from her first husband Sir Louis Baron who died in 1934. In 1936 she purchased Godmersham Park House with her second husband Robert Tritton. Godmersham Park was built in 1732 and in 1794 was inherited
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 an unusual collection of rock crystal objects from different origins including Europe, where during the late Renaissance hardstone
by Edward Austen Knight, the brother of Jane Austen who is known to have visited often and based her novel Mansfield Park on the characters she encountered there. The sale of the property of Mrs Robert Tritton and the contents of Godmersham Park House was held by Christieâ€™s in 1983.
References: 1. Pedro Moura Carvalho, Gems and Jewels of Mughal India: Jewelled and enamelled objects from the 16th to 20th centuries, 2010, pp. 54-56. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid.
27 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, 19th century Overall Height: 6 cm Height of Bowl and Cover: 5.3 cm Diameter of Bowl: 7.5 cm Diameter of Dish: 14.2 cm
A carved, polished and gem-set rock crystal covered bowl and dish, the bowl of flattened hemispherical form standing on a short circular foot with everted rim surrounding a concave centre, the separate domed lid with a compressed bud-shaped finial, and the shallow rimless dish standing on a wide, circular foot. The bowl, cover and dish are inlaid with gold scrolling tendrils in the kundan technique and set with white sapphires, rubies and emeralds within chased gold collets to form flowers, leaves and buds on arabesque vines of gold. The low lying elements of the ensemble, each with a dramatic exaggeration of width in contrast to the diminutive combined height of the dish, bowl and cover, create a sleek and elegant linear profile. 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 with ruby petals that radiate from sapphire centres. Accompanying the larger flowers are smaller trefoil blossoms, some composed of three ruby petals, and others set with three white sapphires. Dancing on the vines are delicate emerald leaves that twist and turn, and ruby buds as yet unfurled. The gold collets in which the cabochon gems are set are variegated by cusps and differentiated in size to create a wide variety of settings. The few gold tendrils without issue of flowers or
leaves terminate abruptly in twigs or coil languidly into golden buds.
cardinal points and spaced by clear rock crystal in-between. Decorating the edge of the dish is a frieze of pendant leaves set alternately with rubies and emeralds on gold stems.
Similar flowers, leaves and vines decorate the cover, surrounding a plain knop finial. The vines are organised into two elaborate floral sprays, each rising from a mound and spreading to fill a hemisphere of the lid. Because the symmetrical design of each hemisphere is created from two equal quarters that mirror each other, the overall design of the lid is quadripartite in structure.
A gem-set rock crystal covered bowl of related form and decoration, but taller in profile and 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 similar bowl and cover may be slightly earlier in date than the early nineteenth century we have assigned to it.
The saucer on which the bowl sits is decorated with designs that complement yet contrast with the bowl and its lid. 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 which holds the foot of the bowl snugly to prevent sliding. Positioned below the widening rim of the bowl is a meander of green leaves and red buds on a scrolling vine framed by inner and outer bands of gold. The cavetto is decorated with four floral cartouches placed at the
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 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 an unusual 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 of Mughal India: Jewelled and enamelled objects from the 16th to 20th centuries, 2010, pp. 54-56. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid.
28 GOLD AND ENAMELLED COVERED BOX India (Jaipur), 19th century Height: 6.4 cm Diameter: 9.8 cm Weight: 268 grams
A gold and enamelled covered box in red, green, blue, yellow and white enamels depicting a profusion of floral and bird designs. The covered box is of flattened hemispherical shape with a short disc-shaped foot for stability. A corresponding raised disc on the cover serves as the finial that provides visual harmony as well as ease of handling the hemispherical halves when the box is open or being closed. When the cover is inverted and placed on the disc finial, using it as a foot, the open box is transformed into two matching bowls with finely polished gold interiors.
The flattened hemispherical shape also allows the box to seemingly transform in shape before our eyes, depending on perspective. When seen from above, the circular cross section gives the impression of a round box but as we move to view the box from the side profile, the flattened form gives the illusion that the box is an oval. The box and cover are both exquisitely enamelled with dense floral and leaf designs on delicate scrolling vines of gold amidst which birds flutter and perch. No two birds are exactly alike and the flowers and leaves are also variegated with bold imagination. The predominant flower on the box is a stylised lotus overlaid with a heart-shaped fruit, perhaps a luxuriant pomegranate or
persimmon. The lotus motif is spaced by blue tulips and several other small floral types, some with soft round petals, some with harder-edged squared-off petals and others seen in profile with serrated petals. The birds competing for our attention include peacocks, parrots, doves, a pair of cooing love birds and a bird of paradise. The cover is decorated with stylised carnations, each with four serrated petals and a cone forming the calyx. Smaller attendant flowers include tulips, lilies, irises and composite flowers, accompanied by pomegranates. While on the box the birds are evenly dispersed amongst the flowers and range in size from the tiny to the magnificent, on the cover the birds are concentrated in a
band on the shoulder and are all roughly equal in size. The kaleidoscopic radiating designs on the foot of the box and the circular disc on the cover are both set in rich red enamel surrounded by a green and gold band of scrolling leaves and flowers. The edge of the foot and the disc are both enamelled in blue with a frieze of gold grasses. It is likely that this box and cover was made as a pandan. It is just the right size to contain a piece of pan or betel leaf in which is wrapped slices of areca nut (supari) mixed with lime paste (chunam) as an offering to an honoured guest. Pandans of similar flattened spherical shape, some smooth, others lobed and most with slightly larger dimensions to contain more than one piece of the delicacy, are illustrated in Mark Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, 1997, p. 274, pls. 469-472.
29 GOLD AND ENAMELLED GEM-SET PEN India (Jaipur), 19th century
down the length of the pen. At each end of the pen is a gold collar taking the form of a projecting flange.
Length nib exposed: 14.2 cm Diameter: 1 cm
The finial at the end of the pen and the finial by which the nib is attached to the body are both decorated with blue enamel flutes against a gold ground. The ends of the finials are embellished by five-petalled diamond flowers.
An elegant gold, enamelled and gem-set pen, consisting of three separate sections: a cylindrical body into which are slotted the detachable gold nib and the finial on the opposite end. The nib can be fixed onto the body with a choice of either the nib exposed for writing or the point inserted into the body of the pen for protection during travel or storage between use.
The pen comes in its original pen case, covered and lined with saffron velvet. This is hinged and secured by means of metal loops that clip over wooden projections at either end.
The body of the pen is decorated with a twisting diagonal band of dark blue enamel against which floral designs are set in the kundan technique with diamonds in relief that form the leaves and quatrefoil flowers. The relief settings afford the advantage of a better grip of the slim pen. The blue enamel and diamond band alternates with a twisting band of white enamel decorated with red flowers on a vine of scrolling green leaves outlined in gold. The bands of blue and white enamel alternate as they twist parallel to each other
30 KRISHNA BRACELET Southern India, 18th century Bracelet: Height: 3.1 cm Width: 3.4 cm Image of Krishna: Height: 2 cm Width: 1.5 cm
A miniature gold bracelet consisting of a cast, chiselled and chased openwork medallion depicting the baby Krishna dancing in a flaming mandala, mounted on a hoop of twisted gold wire fastened by a clasp using a hook and loop mechanism released by a gentle press of the fingers. This tiny and exquisitely made gold bracelet was probably a gift from a pious donor to a Krishna icon in a temple. The mandala that frames the divine child has twelve cusps, with four tongues of flame emerging dramatically from the cardinal points. Krishna’s dance is delightfully rhythmic and fleet-footed, with his right arm raised, his left arm held parallel to the line of his chest with a downward sweep of the palm, his right knee bent and leg lifted in order to stomp down to the beat, and his left leg supporting his ethereal weight and airborne stance. The articulated medallion swivels on its hoop of gold.
An almost identical miniature Krishna bracelet is in the Susan L. Beningson Collection, New York. This was exhibited at the Asia Society Museum, New York, and published in the exhibition catalogue by Molly Emma Aitken, When Gold Blossoms: Indian Jewelry from the Susan L. Beningson Collection, 2004, p. 64, cat. no. 21. According to Aitken, the mandala turns the boy’s playful dance into a cosmic one; Krishna’s playfulness (lila) creates the universe.1 The image of Krishna within the circle of flames recalls the iconography of the celebrated cast bronze sculptures of the Chola period depicting another dancing god, Shiva Nataraja. Aitken observes that the donation of jewellery to the gods brings great merit to the donor.2 Our tiny bracelet, and the one in the Beningson Collection, would have been placed on the arm of a small Krishna statue as part of the temple ritual to prepare the divine image for the god’s descent and for darshan by the worshipper. According to the sacred Hindu texts, jewels are literally considered “accessory limbs” for a deity, like the limbs that a priest might attach to an icon when he decorates it.3 Together with bathing, anointing, feeding and otherwise serving a deity, decoration (alankaram) is part of worship (puja).4 In her discussion, Aitken quotes the anthropologist Anthony Good:
“Etymologically, alankaram conveys ideas of adequacy, and making ready: it is not mere decoration, but a means of imbuing the image with form and strength. Finery is thus an integral part of the deity, not an optional extra.”5 Aitken concludes that because jewellery is intrinsic to divinity, deities must appear fully adorned to their worshippers. Temple jewellery is thus meant to be worn as an icon’s power increases the more splendidly it is dressed.6 When fully dressed according to the prescribed rituals, the innate power of the deity is completely realised and magnificently expressed. The donation of this small and delicate bracelet to the god Krishna, and the placing of it on the god’s arm, would have played a significant part in the manifestation of his glory and power.
References: 1. Molly Emma Aitken, When Gold Blossoms: Indian Jewelry from the Susan L. Beningson Collection, 2004, p. 64. 2. Ibid., p. 23. 3. Ibid., p. 24. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid.; Anthony Good, “The Structure and Meaning of Daily Worship in a South Indian Temple”, in Anthropos, 96, 2001, pp. 491-507. 6. Aitken, 2004, p. 26.
31 ELEPHANT HEAD BANGLES India (Benares), 19th century Diameter: 8.4 cm Width: 2.1 cm
A pair of gold and enamelled elephant head bangles, set with table-cut diamonds around the exterior of the shank in gold collets that take the form of elongated octagons alternating with trefoil flowers. Flanking the central frieze on either side of the shank are parallel meanders of leaf-shaped collets and florets in both trefoil and quatrefoil forms. The intermittent tendrils that connect the flower-heads do not constitute a continuous vine so the nodding flower-heads and twisting leaves seem to float freely against the green enamel ground, yet they maintain the order suggestive of a connecting vine with a most discreet presence. The interior of each bangle is enamelled with pink lotus flowers against white roundels that sparkle
with dark blue dots. The pink lotus petals of each flower rise from a cluster of green enamelled leaves that sway alternately from left to right before continuing to encircle the flowers. At the base of the inner shank is a six-petalled lotus seen from above that contrasts with the other flowers seen in profile. Along the edges of the inner shank, in the interstices between the lotuses, perch pink birds with blue and white striped and dotted wings. The hinged clasp is rendered in the form of two confronted elephant heads with open mouths, raised intertwined trunks and tusks decorated with rings of gold that touch at the truncated points. The elephant heads are enamelled with pink flowers against a white dotted ground that while keeping with the floral theme of the decoration also suggests the texture of the elephantsâ€™ hide. Lotus flowers fill the interior of the elephantsâ€™ mouths and their tongues or lower lips are conjoined in the form of a floral bridge.
32 MAKARA HEAD BANGLES India (Jaipur), circa 1850 Diameter: 7.5 cm Width: 1.5 cm
A pair of gold and enamelled makara head bangles, set with table-cut sapphires around the exterior of the shank in gold collets, with a pattern of large sapphire leaves or flower buds flanked by pairs of smaller leaves on a continuous meandering vine of gold. The flowers and leaves float against a dark blue enamel ground filled by delicate gold serrated leaves. At the base of the bangle is a sapphire flower-head from which the vines emanate. The interior of the bangle is enamelled in polychrome enamels with a design of peacocks strolling in a paradisiacal garden with large exotic blossoms and serrated green leaves outlined in gold. The flowers include pink lotus flowers in white roundels and large red five-petalled flower-heads, accompanied by angular trefoil and bifoil blossoms in the interstices. The base of the
interior is marked by a roundel containing a pair of white birds against a red ground. The birds are perched on either side of a diminutive vine with their feet almost touching and the beak of one pecking the tail of the other so that the birds seem to turn anti-clockwise within the roundel. A band of red petals against a white ground on either side separates the designs on the exterior of the shank with those in the interior. The hinged clasp is rendered in the form of two confronted makara heads, enamelled and set with foiled rubies and white sapphires. The faces of the makaras are enamelled in a vibrant green, their upturned snouts a rich ruby red. Their mouths are wide-open revealing lines of fierce jagged teeth within. Perched triumphantly between their snouts is a geometric flower set with a white sapphire in a square collet. Within their mouths, faceted ruby tongues reach out to touch each other. Bridging the lower jaws of the makaras is an extended hexagon enamelled with floral designs.
33 PA R R O T T U R R A India (Jaipur), 19th century Length: 12.8 cm
A gold, enamelled and gem-set turra (turban ornament) in the form of a red parrot perched on a curling, serrated leaf. The body of the parrot is enamelled in lal zamin (translucent red) enamel and decorated with safedi (opaque white) enamel and sabz zamin (translucent green) enamel to form the flowers and leaves that sprout from scrolling stems of gold. Each wing is composed of a diamond set in a boteh-shaped collet, surrounded by a frill of delicate green enamel leaves. On the breast and forehead of the bird are smaller diamonds of teardrop shape. The claws of the parrot and the upper surface of the leaf on which it is perched are enamelled in green. The underneath of the leaf is decorated as a compound leaf, with red enamel segments outlined in gold to form separate leaflets growing from the central green vein. Above the parrot is a seven-petalled diamond-set rosette on a green stem, flanked by three long serrated compound leaves. The leaves are similarly decorated to the underside of the leaf on which the parrot is perched, with individual red leaflets growing from a green stem. Reversing the decorative scheme of the perch, the undersides of the flanking leaves are enamelled in green. This semi-articulated flower is attached by a hinge to the back of the parrot and thus quivers gently
when worn. A gold pin protruding from the bottom of the flower-head is inserted into a channel on the nape of the parrotâ€™s neck. The pin loosely holds the flower-head in place to allow a nodding movement when the wearer of the turra is animated by speech or gesticulation. Suspended by means of a loop from the parrotâ€™s beak is a hemispherical chhatri (umbrella) enamelled in red and set with diamond flowers and leaves amidst white enamel flowers and green enamel leaves against the red ground. From the bottom of the hemisphere dangle multiple strands of seed pearls to form a tassel. The pearls in each strand gradually increase in size from the rim of the hemisphere to the base of each strand finished by a green glass bead. The red enamelled tail of the parrot flows into the long stem of the turra that terminates in a bulb finial. The tapering stem would be tucked into the folds of the turban and the turra securely fastened with a silken cord passed through the gold and enamelled suspension loop beneath the curling leaf on which the parrot perches. When the wearer moves or nods his head, the articulated flower and the tassel of pearls combine to create a delightful en tremblant effect. A parrot turra of similar construction but enamelled in the pink enamel palette of Benares, is published in Usha R. Bala Krishnan and Meera Sushil Kumra, Dance of the Peacock:
Jewellery Traditions of India, 1999, p. 312, no. 524. The authors write that the Indian multi-strand pearl tassel inspired European jewellery firms such as Cartier, who adapted it to pendants and brooches. They also illustrate another parrot turra from Jaipur in predominantly green enamels on p. 195. A parrot turra with a semi-articulated flower on its back but without a hemisphere and pearl tassel dangling from its beak, is published in Een Streling voor Het Oog: Indische Mogoljuwelen van de 18de en 19de eeuw: A Kaleidoscope of Colours: Indian Mughal Jewels from the 18th and 19th centuries, 1997, catalogue of the exhibition held at the Provincial Diamond Museum, Antwerp, p. 55, no. 7.
34 A S A R P E C H F O R A B OY India (Hyderabad), late 18th century Height: 5.4 cm Width: 3.2 cm Depth: 1.3 cm
This small and extremely elegant gold, diamond and enamelled sarpech is a turban ornament for a young boy. Modelled on princely jewelled turban ornaments for adult wearers, this diminutive sarpech takes the form of a jigha or aigrette, originally based on the kalgi or crest of honour, a heronâ€™s plume weighted by a gemstone to produce the distinctive droop.
diamond slices are known as parabs and must have been cut from what were once very big crystals.2 The Kollur mine in the Golconda region is reputed to have brought forth some really large stones, including the fabled Koh-i Nur and the Nizam diamond, and it is possible that these gems are also from the same mine.3 Rising above the two large diamonds is the aigrette, set with small diamonds as a deliberate contrast that heightens the impact of the large gemstones. The plume curves to the left and from the tip dangles a faceted pendant diamond of teardrop shape. Six leaf-shaped collets set with small diamonds
Sarpeches were worn and exchanged among princes as royal gifts, or bestowed on the highest ranking courtiers and noblemen as especial marks of favour in recognition of great achievements or services rendered to the ruler. This small example, dominated by large Golconda diamonds, would have been part of the headdress of a young boy, perhaps worn together with a sarpati, the hinged panel of jewels forming a band across the forehead to support the jigha. It displays an opulence befitting the Hyderabadi royal court.1
support the large diamond at the base of the jigha. The reverse of the jigha is enamelled in green against which scrolling floral designs are intricately traced in gold. The carved and chased gold tana (stem) into which a real feather would have been inserted, is the means by which the sarpech has been converted into a brooch for the modern wearer. A hinged clip attached to two long pins for fastening to a jacket has been inserted into the mouth of the tana. The tana is chased in relief with floral sprays. Provenance: The Nizams of Hyderabad Private New York Collection Exhibited: Sultans of Deccan India 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from 20th April through 26th July 2015. Published: Navina Haidar and Marika Sardar, Sultans of Deccan India 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy, 2015, pp. 330 and 333, cat. no. 205. References: 1. Courtney A. Stewart in Haidar and Sardar, 2015, p. 332.
The body of the jigha is set in the kundan technique with two large table-cut diamonds: a pear-shaped diamond surmounting a triangular diamond. According to Usha R. Bala Krishnan, these flat, unfaceted
2. Usha R. Bala Krishnan, Jewels of the Nizams, 2001, p. 186, where Krishnan discusses a bracelet set with similar large pear-shaped parabs. This bracelet also once belonged to the Nizams of Hyderabad. 3. Ibid.
35 A S A R P E C H F O R A B OY India (Hyderabad), late 18th century Height: 5.1 cm Width: 3 cm Depth: 1.3 cm
This small and extremely elegant gold, diamond and enamelled sarpech is a turban ornament for a young boy. Modelled on princely jewelled turban ornaments for adult wearers, this diminutive sarpech takes the form of a jigha or aigrette, originally based on the kalgi or crest of honour, a heronâ€™s plume weighted by a gemstone to produce the distinctive droop.
The body of the jigha is set in the kundan technique with four large table-cut diamonds, each of triangular form and set in addorsed pairs one above the other in a quatrefoil arrangement. Rising above the four large diamonds is the aigrette, set with small diamonds as a deliberate contrast that heightens the impact of the large gemstones. The plume curves to the right and from the tip dangles a faceted pendant diamond of teardrop shape.
Six leaf-shaped collets set with small diamonds support the large diamond at the base of the jigha. The reverse of the jigha is enamelled in green against which scrolling floral designs are intricately traced in gold. The gold tana (stem) into which a real feather would have been inserted, is the means by which the sarpech has been converted into a brooch for the modern wearer. A hinged clip attached to two long pins for fastening to a jacket has been inserted into the mouth of the tana.
Provenance: The Nizams of Hyderabad
Sarpeches were worn and exchanged among princes as royal gifts, or bestowed on the highest ranking courtiers and noblemen as especial marks of favour in recognition of great achievements or services rendered to the ruler. This small example, dominated by large Golconda diamonds, would have been part of the headdress of a young boy, perhaps worn together with a sarpati, the hinged panel of jewels forming a band across the forehead to support the jigha. It displays an opulence befitting the Hyderabadi royal court.1
Private New York Collection Exhibited: Sultans of Deccan India 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from 20th April through 26th July 2015. Published: Navina Haidar and Marika Sardar, Sultans of Deccan India 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy, 2015, pp. 330 and 333, cat. no. 205. Reference: 1. Courtney A. Stewart in Haidar and Sardar, 2015, p. 332.
36 PEARL AND DIAMOND CRESCENT EARRINGS India (Hyderabad), late 18th century Height: 7.4 cm Width: 6.2 cm Depth: 0.7 cm
A pair of gold, pearl, diamond and enamelled crescent-shaped earrings (pankhiyan). The front of each crescent is set with table-cut diamonds in the kundan technique and enamelled on the reverse with polychrome floral designs on a white ground. The earrings are almost identical when seen from the front, but the enamels on the reverse of the crescents are subtly varied, so we discover on one of the earrings the unexpected but charming detail of a pair of confronted birds with addorsed heads. The birds flank the central flower at the well of the crescentâ€™s curve, surveying with pleasure the paradisiacal garden that surrounds them on each side. The crescent without birds compensates with a plethora of five-petalled red flowers tossed by the wind. Projecting from the inner and outer edges of each crescent is a series
of gold and enamelled suspension loops, through which strings of pearls are threaded by means of gold wire. Nestling inside the curve of each crescent is a string of small pearls. A longer string of small pearls ornaments the outer curve of the crescent. From each suspension loop on the outer curve dangles a large pendant pearl.
With an instinctive understanding of the acupuncture points located in the ears, women ensure physical and mental well-being by wearing ornaments in almost every part of the ear.3
Provenance: The Nizams of Hyderabad Private New York Collection
Two large pearls bridge the gap between the tips of each crescent. Attached to the wire strung between the pearls is a clip-fitting set with seven diamonds in cartouche-shaped collets. Six of the diamonds form an inverted triangle from which the crescent earrings dangle, linked by the seventh cartouche at the interstice. While crescent earrings are traditionally attached to the scapha (the top outer edge of the ear), this pair has been adapted by means of the clip-fitting to a form that would suit an earlobe.1
Exhibited: Sultans of Deccan India 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from 20th April through 26th July 2015. Published: Navina Haidar and Marika Sardar, Sultans of Deccan India 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy, 2015, pp. 330 and 333, cat. no. 207. References: 1. Haidar and Sardar, 2015, p. 332. 2. Usha R. Bala Krishnan, Jewels of the Nizams, 2001, p. 160.
In India, the ear is considered a microcosm of the entire body and critical acupuncture points are situated in the centre of the lobe as well as other parts of the ear.2
3. Ibid., p. 162.
37 B E LT F I T T I N G India (Lucknow), early 19th century Diameter: 4.7 cm Weight: 33 grams
A champlevé enamelled and engraved silver-gilt belt fitting taken from the Kaiserbagh Palace, during the 1857 Siege of Lucknow, the central boss decorated in blue, green, pink and orange against a silver ground with three birds in flight amidst fruits, flowers and leaves. Appropriately for a military belt fitting, the two upper birds are engaged in vigorous aerial combat, the bird below swooping up to join the fray. Swimming anti-clockwise around the scalloped rim are ten gold fish. The quality, style and iconography suggest royal origins, and indeed, the reverse is gilded and engraved with the words: “Taken out of the KAISER BAGH PALACE at LUCKNOW during the Siege by JOHN CHADWICK. H.M. 9th Lancers, March 15, 1857.” The Siege of Lucknow was the prolonged defence of the British Residency in Lucknow during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which erupted after a period of ferment as the culmination of diverse political, economic, military, religious and social causes. The sepoys or native Indian soldiers of the East India Company’s Bengal Army had become increasingly troubled over the preceding years, feeling that their religions and customs, as well as caste and pay, were under threat from the rationalising and evangelising activities of the Company.1 Legal prohibitions on Indian religious practises were perceived as steps
towards forced conversion to Christianity. The spark that led to mutiny was the issue of the Enfield rifle in February 1857. The paper cartridges for this weapon were believed to be greased with beef and pork fat, which would defile both Hindu and Muslim soldiers when they tore the cartridges open with their teeth. On 1st May the 7th Oudh Irregular Infantry refused to bite the cartridge and by 23rd May, the British Commissioner Sir Henry Lawrence had begun to fortify the Residency and lay in supplies for a siege.
of the British Residency in 1857 rather than the ignoble plunder of the palace the year after, or present it as just reward for a chain of related military campaigns. The reverse has three posts used to attach the leather belt. As if to emphasise the belt fitting’s status as war booty, it has been converted to a brooch with the addition of a silver brooch mechanism atop the posts. Presumably, it was given by Chadwick to a member of his family. Kaiserbagh Palace, the last seat of the Nawabs of Awadh, was built between 1848-1852 by Wajid Ali Shah (reigned 1847-1856), a great patron of architecture and the arts. In 1856 Awadh was annexed by the East India Company on the grounds of internal misrule and the former king banished to Calcutta. This high-handed action by the British, greatly resented within the state and elsewhere in India, was one of the major causes of the rebellion.
On 30th May 1857, the festival of Eid al-Fitr, most of the Oudh and Bengal regiments at Lucknow broke into open rebellion and the siege began, concluding only on 27th November 1857, when the British forces evacuated the Residency of staff, troops, civilians and non-combatants including women and children. Lucknow was abandoned by the British to the control of the rebels during the winter of 1857. The British finally retook Lucknow in 1858, starting from 6th March 1858, with all fighting over by 21st March 1858.
The Kaiserbagh Palace is an intoxicating mix of disparate architectural styles: Ionic columns, Hindu umbrellas (chhatris), Moorish minarets, plaster statuary and myriad elements combined with fearless bravado within a paradisiacal chahar bagh (four-quartered garden) surrounded by terraces punctuated by gateways. The main gateway into the complex has three arches boldly carved on the spandrels with large pairs of fish, the iconic symbol of the Nawabs of Awadh used on their royal standards, coat of arms, coinage, architecture and interior decoration.2 The Nawab even had a boat shaped like a fish.3 According
It seems therefore that the dating on the belt fitting is imprecise and should have been engraved with 1858 rather than 1857. It was in March 1858 that the Kaiserbagh Palace was looted by the British forces. The confusion is understandable; it was probably presented some years after the event, when Chadwick had returned to England. Chadwick may also have wished to associate the taking of the belt fitting with the heroic defence
to Stephen Markel, the adoption of the fish emblem by the Nawabs of Lucknow may have resulted from the conferring of the exalted rank of mahi-ye maratib (Fish of Dignity) in 1720 on Saadat Khan Burhan al-Mulk, an Iranian Shia who in 1722 became the first Nawab of Awadh. Markel also relates the local legend of the good omen of a fish leaping into Saadat Khan’s lap when he was crossing the river Ganges.4 John de Healey Chadwick served in the 9th Lancers and inherited Healey Hall, near Manchester. The 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers was a cavalry regiment, first posted to India during the Gwalior Campaign of 1843. They took part in the First Anglo-Sikh War of 1845-1846 and the Second Anglo-Sikh War of 1848-1849. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the 9th Lancers earned the moniker of “Delhi Spearmen”, a name coined by the mutineers themselves. The 9th Lancers took part in all three of the most notable events associated with the uprising: the siege and capture of Delhi; the relief of Lucknow; and the capture of Lucknow.
References: 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_ of_Lucknow 2. Stephen Markel with Tushara Bindu Gude, India’s Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow, 2010, p. 138, no. 74; p. 213, no. 192; p. 241, fig. 31; p. 215. no. 38 and fig. 32; p. 216, no. 44. 3. Ibid., p. 85, no. 164. 4. Ibid., pp. 214 and 215. Literature: Rosie Llewellyn-Jones (ed.), Lucknow: City of Illusion: The Alkazi Collection of Photography, 2006.
removed by piercing with tiny chisels called tankla so that the glass can be viewed through the openings.
38 T H E WA B O X India (Partabgarh, Rajasthan), late 19th/early 20th century Height: 2.6 cm Width: 10.2 cm Depth: 7.8 cm
A rectangular silver box inset with an amber red glass panel to the top of the hinged cover, decorated in the thewa technique, whereby a sheet of delicately pierced and patterned gold foil is fused by the application of heat to the transparent coloured glass below, then mounted within a silver-gilt frame. The scene depicted is a grand procession set in three horizontal tiers that the eye reads as only a section of a far larger parade stretching out on all directions. At the regal centre is a maharaja seated on an elephant in a howdah, fanned by an attendant and his mahout who carry chowries (flywhisks). Preceding and following the ruler are guards and horsemen bearing swords, an honorific parasol, royal insignia and a morchal (peacock feather fan). Musicians play trumpets, shehnai and pakhavaj drums. A smaller elephant and a horse bringing up the rear of the middle and lower registers suggest both lesser rank as well as greater
Craftsmen in Partabgarh claim that this unique technique, practised only by men of a related family called the Raj Sonis, originated seven generations ago with Nathuni Sonewalla, a goldsmith ancestor of the family who created the style in 1767. The source of his inspiration is unknown as it resembles no other in India and the process remains to this day a closely guarded secret. Oppi Untracht provides a detailed analysis combining partial information reticently provided by living craftsmen, and logical deductions based on his examination of jewelled pieces through a magnifying loop.2
distance. The procession passes under distinctive palm trees, with stylised bushes and overblown flowers in the foreground. The scene is framed on all sides by bands of leaves that form a chevron pattern. The silver box on which the thewa panel is set is decorated in repoussé with scrolling floral designs framed by punched dots and circles on the exterior while the interior is gilded. The whole is therefore a harmonious blend of gold, silver and silver-gilt against which the amber glass richly gleams. Partabgarh in Rajasthan was formerly a small Rajputana principality with its own ruler, established by Maharawat Partab Singh at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Its poetic name is a combination of partab meaning bow-shot or the range of the arrow’s flight, and garh (city). Thewa simply means “setting” in Rajasthani Hindi. According to Henrietta Sharp Cockrell, the earliest known dated piece of thewa is a portable Hindu shrine given to John Malcolm, an administrator in central India, in 1822. The quality of the thewa panels on the shrine support the view that the technique was already well established by this time and possibly since the eighteenth century.1
The glass is said to come from Kashmir or imported from Europe, perhaps Bohemia or Poland. Sheets are cut into a shape corresponding to the patterned gold foil. The glass is placed on mica, which will not adhere to the glass when heated, then the foil is placed on top of the glass and the whole placed in an open clay crucible filled with sand and ash. Blowpipes bring up the temperature to turn the glass red hot. At this point the gold fuses with the glass and the amalgamated whole is immediately withdrawn from heat and allowed to cool slowly to allow for the unequal rate of contraction between glass and metal. Cooled too quickly and the glass might crack. The temperature of the crucible is well below the melting point of gold and because the gold is 24-karat and pure, no discolouring oxides form during heating as might happen with gold alloys containing copper. The glass is then mounted in a silver-gilt frame that has been prepared to the correct size. Before this is done a flat sheet of brightly polished silver or tinfoil (varak) is placed in the closed back setting below the thewa unit to reflect light through the glass. Provenance: From the Collection of The Right Honourable
The process begins with a thin sheet of 24-karat gold laid down on a board covered with lac. The lac is warmed and the metal pressed tightly onto it. When the lac cools and hardens its resilience supports the pressure of tooling. The subject is drawn in outline with a steel scriber (sui). Varied details within the outlines are created with small chasing punches (chheni), each face having different shapes and patterns such as dots, circles, straight and curved lines, and textures. The punch is tapped lightly with a small metal rod, slight pressure being enough to make an impression on the thin foil. The background of the design is then
The Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, LG, OM FRS References: 1. Henrietta Sharp Cockrell, in “Thewa work of Pratapgarh (Partabgarh)”, a discussion of thewa objects in the Khalili Collection in Pedro Moura Carvalho, Gems and Jewels of Mughal India: The Nasser D. Khaili Collection of Islamic Art, Vol. XVIII, pp. 272-283, cat. nos.156-163. Thewa work in the Victoria and Albert Museum is illustrated in Susan Stronge, Nima Smith and J. C. Harle, A Golden Treasury: Jewellery from the Indian Subcontinent, 1988, pp. 105-107, nos. 119, 120 and 121, and pp. 108-109, no. 124 for Sir John Malcolm’s shrine. 2. Oppi Untracht, Traditional Jewelry of India, 1997, pp. 300-303.
39 BETEL NUT CUTTER Southern India, early 19th century Height: 16.8 cm Width: 3.6 cm Depth: 2 cm
A bronze betel nut cutter in the form of a standing female devotee at prayer with the cutter handles represented as her legs. She has an elegant head and face with prominent brows and her eye lids are lowered as if in contemplation. She has a tilak mark on her forehead and her hair, gently parted to the front, is scraped back over her head into a bun or konde taking the form of an elegant radiating flower-head. Her torso is triangular in cross-section and narrows to the cutting edge at her belly.
The chewing of betel or pan has a long history in India, as well as other parts of south and southeast Asia.1 Its consumption was important as part of courtly etiquette and during the royal audience (durbar) the ruler would calmly chew betel to show his detached and therefore superior judgement.2 Thin slices of the nut of the areca palm (supari or Areca catechu) are mixed with lime paste (chunam) made from ground seashells and spices, the whole wrapped in a fresh leaf of the betel tree (Piper betle).3
References: 1. Mark Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, 1997, pp. 263. According to Prakash Chandra Gupta and Cecily S. Ray in “Epidemiology of betel quid usage” in
These specific cutters are called vandun giraya meaning “worship cutter”. When the cutter is closed and at rest, she holds her folded hands in anjali mudra, out in front in supplication to a supreme being. When the handles are opened the object comes to life. She takes a step forward as if walking and her hands rise to her forehead as if she is accepting a blessing bestowed by her god.
Annals, Academy of Medicine, Singapore, vol. 33 (suppl.), no. 4, July 2004, pp. 31-36, the chewing of betel and areca nut dates back to the pre-Vedic Harrapan empire. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Areca_nut 2. Zebrowski, 1997, p. 263. 3. Ibid., p. 264.
40 JADE GRAPE DAGGER India (Mughal), the hilt circa 1700 with a 19th century blade Length of dagger: 36.2 cm Length of hilt: 13.6 cm Width of hilt: 5.5 cm
A carved jade pistol grip dagger (khanjar) with a curved and slightly recurved double-edged blade of wootz or jawhar (watered) steel. The pale green nephrite jade hilt dates to around 1700. It is finely carved with fruiting grape vines en suite with the gold koftgari sheath mounts of the same period decorated with related imagery of dense grape bunches.1 The locket and chape have been remounted on a nineteenth century velvet scabbard and the hilt fitted with a nineteenth century blade with a medial ridge and gold koftgari decoration at the forte, with three flowers amidst foliage within a trefoil cartouche on either side.2 The elegant grape vines and bunches of fruit dangling from coiled tendrils are carved in high relief on the rounded pommel and the base of the hilt, providing a tactile and sculptural three-dimensionality that affords the pleasure of fingering the ripe and juicy fruit, each grape beautifully delineated as are the variegated serrated leaves and scrolling tendrils that terminate in tight spirals. The broad quillons at the base of the hilt are carved as luxuriant leafy volutes, plump with the very sap of life. The grip of the hilt is by contrast plain and smoothly polished, comfortable to hold in the hand and offering visual relief from the baroque vegetal splendour of the pommel and quillons.
Mughal jade khanjar in the collection of the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, City Palace, Jaipur. Dating to the second half of the seventeenth century, this splendid dagger has an open flower-head at the pommel and bunches of grapes decorating the top of the grip of baluster form. This dagger is published in Robert Elgood, Arms & Armour at the Jaipur Court: The Royal Collection, 2015, pp. 42-43, no. 18. The pistol-grip dagger first appears in Mughal weapons of the Aurangzeb period. Its origins can be traced to the Deccan where the form must have been admired by Aurangzeb when he was there as viceroy.3 After Aurangzeb made the khanjar popular, it became extremely fashionable in the Mughal court in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It also appears in miniature paintings; before the Aurangzeb period it was not depicted in Mughal miniatures of the Shah Jahan period.4 For a pistol-grip dagger decorated with bunches of grapes dangling from vines but utilising the technique of silver inlay on dark green jade instead of carving in high relief, see Howard Ricketts and Philippe Missillier, Splendeur des Armes Orientales, 1988, p. 113, no. 193. This khanjar is also dated to circa 1700 like the hilt of our dagger. Published: Robert Hales, Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetimeâ€™s Passion, 2013, p.18, no. 42. References: 1. Robert Hales, Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetimeâ€™s Passion, 2013, p.18, no. 42.
The rare motif of grape vines can be seen on the hilt of an unusual
2. Ibid. 3. Stuart Cary Welch, India: Art and Culture 1300-1900, 1985, p. 178. 4. Ibid.
41 J A D E S H E E P H I LT India (Mughal), 17th century Length: 8.8 cm Width: 3.5 cm Depth: 1.5 cm
A bluish grey nephrite jade knife (kard) hilt, the pommel carved in the form of a sheep’s head, with long droopy ears, finely incised and textured details of fur, slightly open mouth, gently flared nostrils and the eyes inset in the kundan technique with rubies within gold collets to bring the ewe alive. The eye socket area around the inlaid gold and gemstones is defined by carving that suggests folds of skin as well as the underlying bone and muscle structure. The jade has been carefully chosen and carved with astonishing skill, using the dark grey streaks and light greenish blue patches to naturalistically define the various parts of the sheep’s head and neck. The right side of the sheep’s face is darker than the left, while the top of the head and nape are much lighter in colour to show the curls of fur to great advantage, with minutely incised hairs. As these variations in colour occur naturally in the fur of sheep, the ewe seems to have been observed from life. The area with fur is confined to the sheep’s head pommel which ends in a clean demarcation, the grip of the hilt being smoothly polished to bring out the intermingling of light and grey streaks through the translucence of the jade that seems lit from within. A flat chamfer on the back of the hilt aids the comfortable placement of the thumb when the hilt is held in the hand. A knife with a similar hilt of pale green jade carved in the form of a sheep’s head, fitted with a steel blade decorated in gold koftgari work, is in the Nasser D. Khalili Collection of
Islamic Art. This is published in Pedro Moura Carvalho, Gems and Jewels of Mughal India: Jewelled and enamelled objects from the 16th to 20th centuries, 2010, pp. 88-89, cat. no. 32. According to Carvalho, the emperor Jahangir was often portrayed wearing kards in paintings of his reign, demonstrating that the small knife was a weapon of which he was particularly fond. His successors seem to have preferred other arms, namely daggers (khanjars). Carvalho draws our attention to two paintings of Jahangir from the Minto Album, “Prince Salim as a Young Man”, circa 1635, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, in which the prince wears a kard carved with a human head for the pommel; and a painting of “Jahangir Holding the Orb”, circa 1635, now in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, where Jahangir is seen with an animal-headed kard.1 The kard is also depicted in paintings of the Akbar period, suggesting that it is an early style and size of weapon for which Jahangir retained affection. Two paintings from the Johnson Album in the British Library that date from the reign of Akbar show the courtiers Khvajagi Muhammad Husain, circa 1595, and CAbd al-Rahim Khar, circa 1600, each carrying a kard suspended from the sash.2 Further pictorial evidence suggesting that kards were fashionable during the reigns of Akbar and Jahangir, is provided in a painting of circa 1630 by Govardhan from the Kevorkian Album now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, depicting “Akbar with a Lion and a Calf”. In this painting, a sheep’s head kard is suspended from the emperor’s sash.3
evidence of Jahangir’s fondness of the kard, he does not date the Khalili knife to the Jahangir period but gives a more general date of seventeenth century, a dating we follow for our hilt. He also mentions a knife with a jade hilt in a private German collection that has been given a date of circa 1640-1660. Two similar sheep-headed knives in the al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait National Museum, one depicting a ewe and the other a ram, are published in Manuel Keene with Salam Kaoukji, Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals, 2001, p. 103, cat. nos. 8.24 and 8.25, inv. nos. LNS 73 HS and LNS 72 HS. Keene dates both knives to the second half of the seventeenth century. He also illustrates a knife with a ram’s head that he does date to the first half of the seventeenth century on p. 99, cat. no. 8.16, inv. no. LNS 71 HS. This may be used as physical evidence to corroborate the pictorial evidence of the popularity of kards in the early seventeenth century.
References: 1. Both are illustrated in Amina Okada, Indian Miniatures of the Mughal Court, 1992, p. 168, no. 201 and p. 43, no. 43. 2. J. P. Losty and Malini Roy, Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire, 2012, pp. 77-78, figs. 38
Despite this pictorial evidence, most surviving jade kards including the present knife seem to date from the mid to late seventeenth century. Though Carvalho cites several early seventeenth century paintings as
and 39. 3. Stuart Cary Welch, Annemarie Schimmel, Marie L. Swietochowski and Wheeler M. Thackston, The Emperors’ Album: Images of Mughal India, 1987, pp. 96-97, pl. 9.
42 IVORY BULL Northern India, 19th century
one side to stretch out its left legs and to fold its right legs under the body. An exquisite detail is the tail, which trails under and between the back legs to reappear draped over the left hoof. The sensitive and detailed modelling continues with the cleft of hooves, the slight arch of the stretched out left foreleg, and the two accessory digits or capsules behind the hoof of each leg. The musculature beneath the skin and weight of the bull is beautifully suggested. The bull has a gentle smile and an expression of contentment on its face.
Height: 4.3 cm Width: 9.6 cm Depth: 5.3 cm
A finely carved ivory model of a reclining bull, resting on the ground with languid ease. The bull has large curving horns and drooping ears, a hump on its back, a dewlap with broad folds and small creases on the back of the neck, all depicted naturalistically and with remarkable fluency to the carving. These features indicate that the bull is a zebu, a species of cattle native to the jungles of South Asia.
The zebu is the only cattle species that can easily adapt to life in the hot tropics. It is also known as the Brahman or humped cattle because of the distinctive fatty hump on the upper back as seen in this model, located behind the head and neck.
The fact that the bull has been keenly observed from life is evident from the way in which the weight of the recumbent animal is shifted to the right of its body as it tilts its back to
43 A P R I N C E LY H U N T I N G E X P E D I T I O N India (Mughal), circa 1605 Attributed to Nar Singh Height: 18.6 cm Width: 10.3 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper, mounted within gold-flecked orange borders. Inscribed on the verso in nastaCliq: “The hunt of Akbar and Jahangir”.1 The painting illustrates a composite hunting scene each part divided by a rocky outcrop, comprising an elephant hunt in the foreground, a rhinoceros hunt in the middle ground and a lion hunt in the background. Composite hunting scenes such as this, divided by landscape elements, are frequently seen in Mughal paintings. The foreground is dominated by a scene of trapping elephants in the wild using tame elephants. Two elephants are shown in confrontation with trunks entwined. The riders mounted on the tame beast to the right are assisted in catching its wild counterpart on the left with the help of two semi-clad assistants wearing only dhotis. From behind the rocky outcrop two princely figures observe the event. The emperor Akbar’s court historian, Abu’l Fazl describes this method of catching elephants as “chor kheda” in his encyclopaedic work the CAīn-i Akbari. He writes, “They take a tame female elephant to the grazing place of wild elephants, the driver stretching himself on the back of the elephant, without moving or giving another sign of his presence. The elephants then commence to fight, when the driver manages to secure one by throwing a rope round the foot.” The assistant in the foreground is in the process of securing the unwieldly beast to the left with a rope fastened around its belly. An elephant trapping scene from the Victoria and Albert Museum Akbarnama (IS.2:40-1896) compares closely with the foreground scene in this picture. In the upper left corner
of the V&A picture a wild elephant is shown fighting with a tame one with two mounted riders, a detail in the overall composition similar to the focal scene in the painting discussed here. Akbar was a passionate collector of elephants and was said to have one hundred and one khāsa (special or first class) elephants in his elephant stables. In contrast to the other animals pursued in hunting expeditions, elephants were too highly valued to be killed for sport, so the primary purpose of an elephant hunt is to capture more animals for the royal stables. Rhinoceroses on the other hand were considered prize game by the Mughals as the powerful beast would put up a formidable challenge to its capture or slaying. The emperor Babur notes in his Memoirs the Baburnama that the rhinoceros was plentiful in certain areas he passed through on his march into India. He mentions in particular the forests around Peshawar, Hashnagar and Bhera and along the banks of the Indus and Gogra rivers.2 Abu’l Fazl notes that the animals were found especially in the sarkar (provincial subdivision) of Sambhal, west of Delhi and northeast of Allahabad. This fine and rather delicate miniature has been attributed by Milo Cleveland Beach to Nar Singh, who was active in Akbar’s atelier from circa 1585-90 to 1605.3 The small, neat figures and animals and the characteristic landscape are typical of this accomplished artist’s sensitive and refined style. Nar Singh’s precision and delicacy can be appreciated in “Khusrau honoured by his subjects”, illustrated in Barbara Brend, The Emperor Akbar’s Khamsa of Nizami, 1995, p. 14, fig. 7, f. 54a. For further information on Nar Singh, see Milo Cleveland Beach, The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court, 1981, pp. 95-96.4
Concurring with Beach’s attribution of our picture to Nar Singh, Asok Kumar Das has drawn our attention to four further hunting scenes with similar tripartite divisions that include a lion hunt, a rhinoceros hunt and an elephant fight; these paintings are in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin; the Art Gallery of New South Wales; and the Navin Kumar Collection, all associated with Prince Salim during his Allahabad years. Das has kindly observed that the composition of the present painting is more unified than in these examples as a consequence of Nar Singh’s mellow style.
Provenance: Colonel John Murray (in India from 1781) Sotheby’s, London, 15th June 1959, lot 117, an album sold to Garabad for Kevorkian, £1,900 Hagop Kevorkian, New York (1872-1962) Hagop Kevorkian Fund Sotheby’s, London, 21st April 1980, lot 133 The Sven Gahlin Collection Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Asok Kumar Das and Adeela Qureshi for their expert advice, and we are grateful to Qureshi for her kind preparation of the notes on Mughal hunting techniques used in this catalogue description. References:
John Murray, the patron who assembled the album from which this page originates, probably in Lucknow in the 1780s, was a Scottish officer commissioned into the Bengal Army in 1781. He rose to the rank of captain in 1785 and was later appointed Military Auditor General with the rank of colonel. The Murray Album was first sold at Sotheby’s Bond Street on 15th June 1959, and a group was sold again at Sotheby’s on 3rd April 1978, with a further group on 21st April 1980, this page being lot 133.
1. The inscription is inaccurate and is probably a spurious addition at a later date as neither Akbar nor Jahangir can be identified, and Akbar is rarely seen hunting lions as he vowed never to hunt them. 2. Wheeler M. Thackston (trans., ed. and annotated), The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor, 1996 and 2002, pp. 336-337. A Baburnama illustration of a rhino hunt is in the National Museum, New Delhi. 3. Personal communication between Beach and Sven Gahlin on 22nd May 1984. 4. Portraits by Nar Singh for a Tarikh-i-Alfi page can be seen in Beach, 1981, p. 98, cat. no. 10c; see also Ellen S. Smart and Daniel S. Walker, Pride of Princes: Indian Art of the Mughal Era in the Cincinnati Art Museum, 1985, p. 19, no. 3b.
44 PRINCE VISITING AN ASCETIC India (Mughal), circa 1610 Folio: Height: 47.2 cm Width: 31.5 cm Miniature: Height: 22.8 cm Width: 15.1 cm
Opaque watercolour heighted with gold on paper. An atmosphere at once meditative yet convivial permeates this elegant painting of a prince dressed in the Persian fashion visiting an ascetic in his retreat in the rocky wilderness. The ascetic receives the prince outside his meditation hut where the prince’s courtiers and the ascetic’s acolytes are seated in a circle under a tree: the courtiers to the right accompanied by standing attendants and seated musicians, and the ascetic’s followers on the left, accompanied by a recumbent goat and a young disciple who emerges from the hut bearing food. Placed on a cloth before the prince is a spread of delicacies in exquisite bottles and dishes including a blue-and-white bowl in the Safavid style, clearly brought from the court for the occasion. The prince offers a toast of wine to the ascetic. The prince wears a gold figured jacket decorated with confronted male and female courtiers above a belt with seven-lobed fittings, and animals including a crouching tiger below. An attendant carries his sword in a monumental gold scabbard decorated with interlinked ogivals. At no time does this princely
splendour overwhelm the simplicity of the surroundings or disrupt the fine balance of the composition. It is clear that the prince has come to meet the holy man on equal terms, and to consult his wisdom, symbolised by the book he holds in his hand. Intermingled with the refined dishes are rustic loaves of bread that have been shared and the acolyte’s humble bowl of food would not doubt be added as contribution to the repast. The fur worn by the holy man to the front of the picture offers a distinctive contrast to the prince’s royal costume. This painting is published in Milo Cleveland Beach, The Grand Mogul: Imperial Painting in India 1600-1660, 1978, pp. 163-164, no. 61. According to Beach, the identities of the prince and the ascetic are not known, but in its directness, this seems to be one of the earliest full-scale treatments of the theme. He also illustrates on p. 165, no. 62, another picture of “Holy Men” dating to circa 1630 that provides an excellent comparison to chart the changes in Mughal style during this period. Here the greater richness of line and modelling and the enrichment of the surface with gold are indications of a later date, as are the lowering of the horizon line and the addition of a distant town so that the landscape becomes a free
space rather than a backdrop. For Beach however, the major difference is the mood. The figures in our painting are simple and sincere, whereas the nudity of the ascetics in no. 62 seems an indulgence.
was introduced to Gandhi. Hired locally in Beijing by the American Ambassador, whose staff had been evacuated due to Chinese-Japanese hostilities, she helped run relief supplies to Mukden (now Shenyang). Embassy postings after the war included Kobe, Taipei, Hong Kong and Kabul, which
Beach has kindly observed that the influence of the artist Manohar can be discerned in our painting. A comparable delicacy of line may be noted, and the artist even exceeds Manohar in his ability to situate the figures within a clearly defined arena, so that the viewer can understand the spatial relationships between the figures and the recession into tangible space. According to Glenn Lowry in his essay on Manohar on pp. 130-132 of Beach’s publication, Manohar’s interest in line and surface rather than space and volume gave rise to a distinctive and easily recognisable modelling technique that concentrates on his subject’s contours, leaving the rest in neutral tones. Though a comparable lightness of touch can be seen in the modelling of our figures, an element of weight has been imparted by internal modelling and patterning within the outer contours.
was still peaceful under the rule of King Zahir Shah. After retirement in the 1960s, she made annual fall trips to Kalimpong, near Darjeeling, staying months at a time at the famous Himalayan Hotel run by daughters of David Macdonald, the British Yatung Trade Agent for Tibet from about 1909-1924. She became intimately acquainted with the family of the last king of Sikkim, the Chogyal, Palden Thondup Namgyal, whose second wife was the American socialite, Hope Cooke. Her clothes from then on were hand made in Gangtok from exquisite Sikkimese textiles. In terms of intrepidity, her story might be compared to that of her grandfather, F.A.O. Schwarz, who emigrated from Germany in 1856 and founded the New York toy store. Her English mother, of the family of Constable, the painter, had very much wanted her to be an avid tennis player. Published: Laurence Binyon and Thomas W. Arnold, Court Painters of the Grand Mughals, 1921, colour plate VI. Milo Cleveland Beach with contributions
by Stuart Cary Welch and Glenn D. Lowry,
The Spencer-Churchill Collection
The Grand Mogul: Imperial Painting in India
Christie’s King Street, London, Thursday,
1600-1660, 1978, pp. 163-164, no. 61.
24th June 1965, lot 47, sold for £85 Marjorie D. Schwarz, collected 1965-1974,
purchased from Ray Lewis of Marin
The Grand Mogul: Imperial Painting in India
1600-1660, an exhibition held at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown,
Taking mild frostbite as an excuse to drop
Massachusetts, between 25th September
out of Vassar College in about 1932,
and 5th November 1978; the Walters Art
Miss Schwarz (1913-1999) continued
Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland, between 20th
independently a life of adventure begun with
November 1978 and 10th January 1979; the
travels in search of the stingless bee with her
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts,
father, Herbert, a well-known entomologist
between 2nd February and 25th March 1979;
at the American Museum of Natural History.
and at the Asia House Gallery, New York City,
By the time she arrived in Beijing on 8th July
between 19th April and 10th June 1979.
1937, at the climax of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, she had already travelled in Stalin’s Soviet Union, Iraq, Egypt, Uganda, and in India: there she
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Milo Cleveland Beach and Catherine Glynn for their expert advice.
45 K H A N J A H A N LO D I India (Mughal), circa 1630 Folio: Height: 41 cm Width: 28 cm Miniature: Height: 17.4 cm Width: 9.2 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. Mounted on an album page with borders of salmon pink, powder blue and plain buff paper, with identifications written in black nastaCliq and gold devanagari on the broad lower margin. The Afghan Pir ‘Pira’ Khan Lodi, entitled Khan Jahan, rose to power under the Mughal emperor Jahangir and became one of his most esteemed amirs.1 As a general, he commanded the Mughal armies in the Deccan under prince Parwiz, the second son of Jahangir, and in 1625 he was made governor of the Mughal territories in the Deccan. Under Jahangir he received the rank of 5000. After the succession of Shah Jahan in 1628, which he did not support, he defected from Mughal service and was finally killed in 1631 in an engagement with the royal troops.
In this elegant standing portrait, no hint is given of his imminent fall from grace and tragic demise.
Khan Jahan Lodi is presented as a high-ranking Mughal official at the height of his powers. Yet with the benefit of hindsight, the viewer may discern in his face an air of unquiet, a seething discontent, and a need, as yet unexpressed, for open rebellion. Intelligent, determined and clearly dissatisfied with the turn of political events and his uncertain place within the new hierarchy, the lack of serenity in his expression is powerfully encapsulated in this telling psychological portrait.
The formal conventions of Mughal court portraiture go some way towards containing his dissident spirit, presenting him in a dignified manner. He stands with respectful obeisance, his hands folded before him, or so it seems until we carefully study his face, here portrayed in strict profile facing right. He wears an orange turban and trousers with a green jama (coat) woven with floral sprays and tied with a yellow and purple patka (sash) into which is tucked a jewelled dagger. A sword in a red velvet scabbard hangs from the leather strap across his shoulder. The background is dark green, with flowers at his feet. Khan Jahan Lodi is the unfortunate subject of one of the greatest Mughal paintings, “The death of Khan Jahan Lodi”, by Abid of circa 1633 in the Windsor Castle Padshahnama, folio 94B. This is published 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. 50-51, cat. no. 16, and pp. 174-176, in which Koch and Beach relate the tumultuous events leading to his decapitation, painted by Abid with gruesome yet exquisite detail.
recover Balaghat from Ahmadnagar. However, he rebelled and fled back to Nizam Shah at Daulatabad Fortress. His defection caused a huge problem for Shah Jahan as nearly all the Afghan tribes were prepared to acknowledge the rebellious Afghan as their leader. In order to quell the uprising, Shah Jahan followed him to the Deccan where he personally supervised his campaign from Burhanpur. Khan Jahan then fled north towards the Punjab but his flight finally came to an end at Sahenda (Sihanda), north of Kalinjar, where his Mughal pursuers advanced towards him on 3rd February 1631.3 He fought valiantly but was killed by a spear thrust from Madho Singh Hada of Bundi.4 His decapitated head and that of his beloved son Aziz were sent to Burhanpur where Shah Jahan had them mounted on the palace gate as a warning against rebels.5
Provenance: P & D Colnaghi and Co Ltd Exhibited: Colnaghi, Indian Painting, 14 Old Bond Street, London W1X 4JL, from 5th April to 3rd May, 1978. Published: Toby Falk, Ellen Smart and Robert Skelton, Indian Painting: Mughal and Rajput and a
According to Koch, Khan Jahan endangered his position when he let himself be bribed by the sultan of Ahmadnagar, the Nizam Shah or Nizamulmulk, into ceding parts of the territory entrusted to him as governor.2 Khan Jahan was recalled to Agra after failing to
Sultanate manuscript, 1978, pp. 35 and 86, no. 22. References: 1. Milo Cleveland Beach and Ebba Koch, King of the World: The Padshahnama: An Imperial Mughal Manuscript from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, 1997, pp. 174-176. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid.
46 S U LTA N I B R A H I M A D H A M V I S I T E D B Y A N G E L S India (Mughal), 1730-1740 Height: 20.5 cm Width: 13.6 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper, laid down on a small gold-flecked album leaf. On an evening dimly lit by the pale light of a crescent moon and a few distant stars, a holy man sits on a rocky dais at the entrance of his cave, attended by seven winged angels who bring him food and drink. Three sumptuously dressed angels kneeling on the left carry gold covered dishes. The angels standing behind offer drink in a blue-and-white flask and a bunch of grapes. The angels on the right hold gold and silver bowls. The circular rock on which the saint is seated is laid with a cloth upon which are placed an array of delicacies, including a dish of quail. He partakes using a golden spoon and his supper is lit by a magnificent candelabrum. A tree shades the entrance to the cave. In the background, two ships sail in a lake. In the foreground, egrets and a crouching rabbit play on the bank of a lotus pond. The scene is from the famous story of Sultan Hadrat Ibrahim bin Adham of Balkh, an eighth century king who gave up his kingdom in order to become a dervish and is visited by the angels. This was a subject very popular in eighteenth century Mughal painting and another depiction of the scene from Awadh dating to circa 1770-1780 is in the India Office Library, Johnson Album 6, no. 5.1 According to the legend, before he turned into a dervish, Ibrahim was a very wealthy king. One night he is woken at midnight by strangers searching for their lost camel on his roof. When he asks how they would expect to find
a camel on the roof, the mystical reply is, “Just as you hope to find God while dwelling in a kingly palace and dressed in kingly attire”. Ibrahim is immediately possessed by the fear of God.2 The second sign of God to come before Ibrahim is a visit to his palace by another stranger, looking for a place to “lodge in this caravanserai”. When Ibrahim prays to God to tell him the identity of this mysterious stranger, he learns that it is none other than Khidr, and the fear of God strikes him once again.3 Finally, one day while out hunting in pursuit of a beautiful deer, just as he is about to shoot the deer with his arrow, the deer turns to him and speaking in a human voice says, “I have come to hunt you, not to be hunted by you. You cannot kill me. Have you ever pondered if the Lord has created you for this recreation in which you are indulging?” Upon hearing this miraculous message from God, Ibrahim leaves his palace, gives up all worldly possessions and dons the “divine princely garments of poverty”. He stays in the forest for nine years.4 According to the legend, the angels administer to Ibrahim on the banks of the
Tigris after he resigns his kingdom, bringing him ten dishes of food. This arouses the envy of a dervish who was a poor man before he assumes the habit of a beggar and to whom only one plate of food is given. The jealous ascetic is often depicted in other paintings of Sultan Ibrahim, looking very forlorn, but he is not shown here.
and influential style for the Nawabs of Awadh in the 1760s and 1770s. Exhibited and Published: Toby Falk and Simon Digby, Paintings from Mughal India, Colnaghi exhibition catalogue, 1979, pp. 52 and 53, no. 24. References: 1. Toby Falk and Mildred Archer, Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, 1981, no.
A painting of Sultan Ibrahim that includes the poor dervish is in the Cynthia Hazen Polsky Collection, New York. This is published in Andrew Topsfield (ed.), In the Realm of Gods and Kings: Arts of India, 2004, pp. 196-197, cat. no. 80. In the catalogue description, Jerry Losty observes that the various versions of this well-known Mughal subject are linked by their dependence on European imagery for the figures of Sultan Ibrahim and angels, going back to a now lost seventeenth century version. Losty cites Gauvin Bailey’s description of a similar picture in the St. Petersburg MuraqqaC where Bailey writes that the figure of Ibrahim is derived from Christ in “The demon tempts Christ in the wilderness”, and the angels from “Angels minister to Christ”, both in the “Poor Man’s Bible” of 1593, a Jesuit book which arrived in the Mughal court in 1595.5 Robert Skelton has suggested an attribution for the present painting to the artist Mir Kalan Khan, early in his Delhi phase, before he later developed his idiosyncratic
325, p. 156. We are grateful to Jerry Losty for drawing our attention to this miniature. We would also like to thank Robert Skelton for drawing our attention to the TadhkaratulAuliya of Fariduddin Attar, in which the story C
of Ibrahim is recorded. Falk and Archer note that Ibrahim was a ninth century king but Fariduddin Attar says he died in 777 AD. C
2. Selections from Fariduddin Attar’s C
Tadhkaratul-Auliya [Memoirs of Saints] Parts I & II, abridged and trans. from the Persian by Bankey Behari, 1961, pp. 35, 36 and 37. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 5. Engraved illustrations by Adriaen Collaert, pls. 12 and 14 from Jerome Nadal’s Evangelicae Historiae Imagines, Antwerp, 1593: see Gauvin Bailey in The St. Petersburg Muraqqa : Album of Indian and Persian C
Miniatures from the 16th through the 18th Century and Specimens of Calligraphy by Imad al-Hasani, 1996, p. 81, C
pl. 90, folio 53.
47 P R I N C E S S AT A PA L A C E W I N D O W India (Mughal), circa 1740 Height: 18.4 cm Width: 13 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. In this elegant painting, a princess appears at a palace window (jharokha) facing left, dressed in an exquisite diaphanous robe with a pattern of delicate yellow flower buds with green tips, and red calyxes and stems that together create a tri-colour effect. She wears strings of pearls and a sash with a trailing vine of flower-heads against a contrasting parallel panel of dazzling white. In her turban, delicate gold flowers on a red ground alternate with bold green stripes and bands of gold cloth decorated with scrolling vines, pearls and emeralds. A feathered aigrette and a pearl suspended from a cabochon emerald complete her sumptuous headgear. With hennaed fingers, she holds onto the window frame of pierced white marble jali screens surmounted by a finely carved arch. Over the parapet lies a golden carpet, pendant to the golden rolled-up curtain with floral designs above. Gold becomes the colour unifying portrait and window frame.
According to Andrew Topsfield, window portraits had been a feature of Mughal art since the seventeenth century, painted in imitation of Renaissance portraits transmitted to India via the medium of prints. Like their models, a parapet beneath converts the open frame into an architectural space and a rolled up curtain above completes the illusion that we are looking through a window.1 Till the reign of Aurangzeb jharokha portraits were restricted to emperors alone, but afterwards they became fashionable for showing idealised ladies. This princess, with her large stylised eye, is of an inscrutable, earnest beauty. On the verso is a calligraphic page written in elegant nastaCliq, with two couplets from a ghazal by Hafiz:
â€œWonders of the path of love are numerous, O friend! Lion took flight from a deer in this desert Do not complain of grief, because in the path seeking [No one] reached comfort unless he took troubleâ€?.
Provenance: The Konrad Seitz Collection, acquired between 1968-1972 Reference: 1. Andrew Topsfield (ed.), In the Realm of Gods and Kings: Arts of India, 2004, p. 299.
48 R A M A A N D L A K S H M A N A A P P R O A C H T H E S T R O N G H O L D O F S U G R I VA India (Jammu and Kashmir, Bahu), 1700-1710 Height: 22.2 cm Width: 35 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration from the Shangri Ramayana, Book IV, Kishkindhakanda, chapter 4. The Hindi inscription written in devanagari to the top of the yellow border reads: sri raghunathji ko dekhi kare sugriva ko chintanai “The thoughts of Sugriva on seeing Sri Raghunathji (Rama)”.
This painting from the Kishkindhakanda or “Monkey Chapter” of the Ramayana shows Rama and Lakshmana approaching the stronghold of Sugriva, King of the Monkeys. Sita has been abducted by the demon king Ravana, and the despairing Rama is advised by Kabandha, an asura that he battles and slays, to seek the aid of Sugriva, who has been banished from the monkey kingdom by his brother Bali for the sake of the throne and now resides in exile on the lofty mountain Rishyamuka, situated on the borders of Lake Pampa.1 Rama’s plan is to offer Sugriva assistance against Bali to regain his throne, in return for help in locating and rescuing Sita by using the vast monkey and bear armies, whose forces range in the thousands of millions.
throne of rocks, carrying their bows and quivers full of arrows. Rama looks up at Sugriva with a steady, hopeful gaze while Lakshmana grimaces with determination. Sugriva adopts a grandiloquent pose of royal splendour but the haughty dignity that he tries to project cannot quite conceal the trepidation on his face. Jerry Losty, who kindly read the inscription, has commented on the marvellous attitude channelled by Sugriva, so wonderfully captured by the painter, as the monkey king’s conflicting thoughts on the two brothers race through his mind. This painting comes from the great series known as the “Shangri” Ramayana. It was first discovered in 1956 by M.S. Randhawa in the collection of Raja Raghbhir Singh of Shangri, a town in the Kulu valley. Raghbhir Singh, a descendant of the Kulu royal family, owned 270 pages of this magnificent Ramayana that have since been dispersed. In 1973, William G. Archer attempted to give a historical justification for the Kulu origins of the work. He grouped the paintings into four different styles, which he identified as Shangri Styles I-IV.2 In 1992, B. N. Goswamy and Eberhard Fischer challenged the Kulu attribution and reassigned the paintings to Bahu, the capital of a branch of the royal Jammu family.3 The Kishkindhakanda is executed in Shangri Style III. Recent scholars such as Darielle Mason suggest that the Kishkindhakanda may have been completed in Mandi, close to the Kulu valley; others such as Joseph M. Dye retain the Kulu provenance.4
As the heroic brothers approach Rishyamuka, they are spotted by the apprehensive Sugriva who suspects that they are great warriors sent by Bali to penetrate his stronghold. He leaps from the ridge on which he is perched to the safety of a higher crest on the mountain, accompanied by his monkey counsellors who leap from crag to crag to gather around their sovereign. Sugriva sends Hanuman in the guise of a wandering monk to interrogate Rama and Lakshmana and discover the true purpose of their visit. In response to an eloquent introduction by Hanuman, Lakshmana relates the story of Rama’s exile from Ayodhya and Sita’s capture by Ravana. Recognising the opportunity for a fruitful alliance, Hanuman tells them of Sugriva’s similar usurpation by Bali and invites them in friendship to Rishyamuka. Abandoning his monk’s disguise, he returns to monkey form and scales the mountain with immense leaps, carrying Rama and Lakshmana in his arms. In this splendid painting, the brothers stand before Sugriva’s
as from the kingdom of Jammu (Bahu) and he dates them to circa 1700-1730. Catherine Glynn has observed that the Shangri Ramayana is a very large set of paintings done by different hands. Though it is unusual to have Hindi devanagari script on the front of the paintings, it is not unknown. The majority of the paintings have red borders but a few, like the present picture, have yellow borders; orange and buff uncoloured borders are also known. According to Glynn, a small number of paintings exhibit the same script in the same hand on the upper border and interestingly, they are all from the same part of the story. In the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is a depiction of the monkeys jumping from crag to crag just before Rama and Laskhmana’s audience with Sugriva (gift of Paul F. Walter, M.87.278.2). This has a devanagari inscription to the top yellow border. The paintings with yellow borders seem to have been done as a group by one artist. Indeed the rocks and monkeys at LACMA are almost identical in style to those in our picture. Provenance: Marjorie D. Schwarz, collected 1965-1974 Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Catherine Glynn and Jerry Losty for their expert advice. References: 1. The story is compiled from Hari Prasad Shastri (trans.), The Ramayana of Valmiki, 1957, vol. II, Book IV, chapters 1 to 4. 2. W. G. Archer, Indian Paintings from the
Three paintings executed in Shangri Style III from the Kronos Collections, New York, are published in Terence McInerney with Steven M. Kossak and Navina Najat Haidar, Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput CourtsThe Kronos Collections, 2016, pp. 168-173, cat. nos. 58, 59 and 60. The pictures are described by McInerney
Punjab Hills, 1973, vol. I, pp. 317-329. 3. B. N. Goswamy and Eberhard Fischer, Pahari Masters: Court Painters of Northern India, 1992, pp. 76-79. 4. Darielle Mason, Intimate Worlds: Indian Paintings from the Alvin O. Bellak Collection, 2001, p. 88, cat. no. 29; Joseph M. Dye III, The Arts of India, 2001, pp. 332 and 333, cat. nos. 136a and 136b.
49 SANEHI RAGINI
India (Bilaspur), 1730-1740 Height: 26.5 cm Width: 17.5 cm
in takri has been obscured by paper; the second in devanagari says: bhairave di ragani saneha / patra 3 The final inscription is in takri: ragani sanehi path 3/ bhairave di
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a Ragamala series. This painting and its companions that make up catalogue nos. 49-56, come from a set of twelve Ragamala paintings from Bilaspur. They are part of a series originally containing eighty-four miniatures based on the iconography and sounds of nature or human activities described by the verses of Kshemakarna’s Ragamala system, which was used by the painters of the Punjab Hills. All the paintings have red borders with black and white rules and three inscriptions on the reverse. Here, the first inscription
“Sanehi Ragini, wife of Bhairava Raga”. Sanehi is the elegant lady standing on the veranda of her house attended by her maid as she exchanges letters with a messenger. The letters take the form of scrolls. Sanehi holds a scroll with visible writing in her left hand while in her right, she hands a letter safely ensconced in a lacquered red container to the messenger, who gives her two letters in exchange. Her attendant holds a gold dish in which the letters may be deposited for her perusal in the privacy of her chambers. It is possible to guess the contents of the correspondence, as it is likely to be an exchange of love letters between the lady and her lord. A similar painting from the Ragamala set from Basohli-Bilaspur now in Berlin is illustrated in Ernst and Leonore Waldschmidt, Miniatures of Musical Inspiration in the Collection of the Berlin Museum of Indian Art, Part I: Ragamala Pictures from the Western Himalaya Promontory, 1967, fig. 33. A drawing depicting Sanehi seated on a footstool with her maid beside her, dispatching a written note to a messenger standing respectfully outside, is illustrated in Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, 1973, p. 287, no. 352. Though loosely based on Kshemakarna, Pahari artists devised their own imaginative iconographies for his verses, modifying his interpretations, combining the sounds he describes with the images he suggests, and incorporating word play in the ragas themselves. According to the Waldschmidts on pp. 46 and 168, in Kshemakarna’s verse 108, Sanehi (also Sandehi or Sneha) sounds like the drying or
rubbing down of the body with a cloth. Kshemakarna’s dhyana verse 17 praises the beauty, ornaments and garments of the ragini but there is no mention of letters exchanged. However, Ebeling notes on p. 287 that the word sandeha means sending a message, so it is through elaborate word play that the final iconography is derived. These paintings are from the same series as two paintings also formerly in the Alma Latifi Collection, discussed in W. G. Archer, Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, 1973, vol. I, p. 237, Kahlur (Bilaspur) nos. 31(i) and 31(ii); vol. II, p. 179, pls. 31(i) and 31(ii). These are Sandhuri Ragini, consort of Hindola Raga, and his son, Vinoda Ragaputra. Archer notes that the series is of significance for Bilaspur painting as it forms a bridge between early Ragamalas of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, and later mid eighteenth century styles. The series is notable for its cleanly modelled forms, suave precise design and sharply phrased faces. Elegance is enhanced by the light, almost ethereal colouring against which delicate details like hair, jewellery, ornaments, jalis and vegetation spin a filigree. The elongated vertical format stretches out and narrows down inner components such as doors, towers and turrets. Note in this picture the tall and thin chini kana compartments, the attenuated surahis (long-necked vases) placed within, and the slim turrets also observed in Archer’s Vinoda Ragaputra.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Dr Latifi, an eminent civil servant, collected Indian works of art from the 1930s to the 1950s. He amassed a substantial collection of Indian paintings from which some paintings were loaned to the Royal Academy exhibition in London entitled, The Art of India and Pakistan, 1947-1948. Private London Collection
50 D I PA K R A G A India (Bilaspur), 1730-1740 Height: 26.7 cm Width: 17.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a Ragamala series. Inscribed on the reverse in takri: [sri] raga dipak chautha 1? / pahila Inscribed in devanagari: sri raga dipak chautha 4 patra 1 Further inscribed in takri: sri raga dipak / raga dipak chautha di patra 4 “The fourth raga, Dipak Raga”. Kshemakarna’s Ragamala system used by the artists of the Punjab Hills contains two sets of verses. In the first set, each musical mode is described as a person. In the second, Kshemakarna compares each raga, ragini (wife) or ragaputra (son) to a sound either found in nature: such as the hiss of a snake or the song of a bird; or made by a human activity, such as churning butter or washing clothes.1 In stanza 98, Kshemakarna describes the sound of Dipak Raga as that of fire which “sings” the melody, hence the iconographic convention of depicting the raga with lamps or burning flames. In the dhyana verse of stanza 54, Dipak is described as: “Brought forth [born] by the eye of the sun, mounted on an excellent white elephant, shaped like Sutrama (Indra), of red body [complexion], with wide eyes, with a diadem on his head, in a bright dress, very lovely;
a garland around his neck, holding an axe in his hand [here an ankus or elephant goad], giving delight to the god of love, Dipak may confer joy to all people during the hot season at noon.” 2 In this painting the god Indra rides his magical white elephant Airavata, which carries a lamp on its trunk. Indra’s body is covered with a thousand eyes which were originally yonis, a punishment he receives for making love to Ahalya, the beautiful wife of the sage Gautama who curses him for seducing her. After a long period in which Indra hides from the world in shame, Gautama’s anger subsides and in response to Brahma’s appeal, converts Indra’s thousand yonis to eyes. Henceforth Indra becomes known as “the god of a thousand eyes”.
Indra’s all-seeing eyes into the texture of the design as a repeated motif against a deliberately plain background. Indra carries his large steel ankus in one hand and his vajra or thunderbolt as the god of rain in the other. His scarf flies in the wind as the faithful Airavata charges ahead at great speed, effortlessly balancing the oil lamp on the curling tip of his trunk. A flame darts sharply upwards, emitting a whisper trail of smoke. Airavata’s trunk presses against the left red border as if about to pierce it, rush out of the picture and take flight into the sky. According to
mythology, Airavata reaches deep down into the underworld to suck up its waters which he then sprays in the clouds for his master Indra to make the rain, thereby linking the waters of the sky with those of the underworld.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Jerry Losty and Robert Skelton for their expert advice and kind reading of the inscriptions. References: 1. Catherine Glynn, Robert Skelton and Anna L. Dallapiccola, Ragamala Paintings from India: From the Claudio Moscatelli Collection, 2011, pp. 19-20. 2. Ernst and Leonore Waldschmidt, Miniatures of Musical Inspiration in the
The delight in pattern making seen consistently in the paintings of this Ragamala series gleefully incorporates
Collection of the Berlin Museum of Indian Art, Part I: Ragamala Pictures from the Western Himalaya Promontory, 1967, pp. 43 and 121; Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, 1973, p. 74.
51 R A M A R A G A P U T R A O F D I PA K R A G A India (Bilaspur), 1730-1740 Height: 25.7 cm Width: 17.8 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a Ragamala series. Inscribed on the reverse in takri: [di]pak raga ra putra raga ram 3 di[?] Inscribed in devanagari: dipake da putra raga ram tri[ti]ya 3 patra 9 Further inscribed in takri: dipake da putra raga ramau, patha 9 “Rama Raga, third son of Dipak Raga”. Rama is the prince seated on the veranda of his palace attended by a maid, leaning against a large cushion decorated with floral sprigs as he talks to a bird in a tree. The prince wears a lavender jama fastened by a red patka (sash) into which a jewel encrusted gold katar (thrust-dagger) is tucked. An elegant turban with a gold chevron band surmounted by an aigrette caps his noble features. The chowrie (flywhisk) held by his attendant affirms his princely status. She is dressed in a refined manner that complements the palatial setting, with a diaphanous skirt through which the striped dhurrie can be seen. She holds in her hennaed hand an equally translucent handkerchief, the material akin to gauze. She is cast in the same mould as Sanehi Ragini and her attendant in cat. no. 49, who also wear gossamer skirts through which the carpets can be seen. Delicacy and light, evanescent colours, applied in shimmering layers lit from within, are hallmarks of this Ragamala series. The bird with which Rama converses is one of three perched on the branches of a blossoming tree with
a stem so thin that support of the lush vegetation above seems impossible. A related painting of Rama Ragaputra in a Ragamala set from Basohli-Bilaspur is illustrated in Ernst and Leonore Waldschmidt, Miniatures of Musical Inspiration in the Collection of the Berlin Museum of Indian Art, Part I: Ragamala Pictures from the Western Himalaya Promontory, 1967, fig. 60. This depicts Rama standing between two flowering trees, feeding or enticing a pair of crows on either side. The Waldschmidts explain on pp. 47 and 165 that in Kshemakarna’s verse 100, the “one-eyed (?) bird” (eka-locana-khago) “sings” the musical mode Rama. They propose a correction of the text to eka-locaka, a compound word meaning “altogether lamp-black” that establishes the birds as black crows. Indeed the birds in the Berlin manuscript are jet black crows, but such a dark colour would unbalance the opalescent tones of our painting; here the birds are grey with lightening touches of white and red. This painting comes from the same series as two paintings also formerly in the Alma Latifi Collection, discussed by W. G. Archer in Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, 1973, vol. I, p. 237,
Kahlur (Bilaspur) nos. 31(i) and 31(ii); vol. II, p. 179, pls. 31(i) and 31(ii). The elongated vertical format stretches out inner components such as doors, towers and turrets. Note in this picture the tall and thin chini kana compartments, also observed in Archer’s Vinoda Ragaputra 31(ii) and Sanehi Ragini in our cat. no. 49. Delight in pattern making is a constant feature of this series seen in the decoration of Rama’s palace. The three tiers comprising the projecting base and the two layers of eave and parapet on the roof, are decorated with imaginative patterns in related colours. The rolled green awning balances the green edge of the terrace below; its presence gives the double-tiered pedimental decoration the same visual weight as the three basal friezes. A whimsical touch is the thatched roof of the
central chhatri (kiosk), most unusual for a palace until we read it as a reference to Rama, the hero of the Ramayana with whom the ragaputra shares a name. Rama’s exile from palatial splendour in Ayodhya to a thatched hut in the Dandaka forest is expressed by the surprising juxtaposition of charmingly mis-matched architectural elements. Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Jerry Losty and Robert Skelton for their expert advice and kind reading of the inscriptions.
52 H E M A L A R A G A P U T R A O F D I PA K R A G A India (Bilaspur), 1730-1740 Height: 26.6 cm Width: 17.6 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a Ragamala series. Inscribed on the reverse in takri: dipak raga ra putra raga hamela ch[??] Inscribed in devanagari: dipake da putra raga tamala chheva 6 / patra 11 [below that] 12 Further inscribed in takri: dipake da putra raga hamala/ patha chha ? “Hemala Raga, sixth son of Dipak Raga”. Hemala Ragaputra is shown as a young yogi, perhaps Mahadeva, seated meditating on the summit of a craggy mountain, attended by a pair of confronted jackals who keep watchful guard below him. Mahadeva, meaning “great god”, is one of the names of Shiva, who despite his potent destructive powers, also has a benevolent side where he lives the quiet contemplative life of an ascetic and omniscient yogi on top of Mount Kailash, which the imbricated cone-shaped rock formations may represent.
Elaeocarpus ganitrus. Rudra is another of Shiva’s epithets and rudraksha in Sanskrit means “Shiva’s teardrops”. The simple, organic jewellery (mala), made by foraging the fruits of nature, is much more suitable for a yogi in the wilderness than the princely gold and jewels worn by Rama in cat. no. 51, and in place of Rama’s palatial rugs and cushions, Mahadeva has a rush mat. Further strings of rudrakshamala form necklaces, armbands and bracelets for our ascetic, while snakes writhe around his waist and through his ear lobes as a belt and earrings. Meditation bowls, cloths, staffs and crutches (zafar takieh) complete his minimal accoutrements.
A similar painting in the Ragamala set from Basohli-Bilaspur now in Berlin is illustrated in Ernst and Leonore Waldschmidt, Miniatures of Musical Inspiration in the Collection of the Berlin Museum of Indian Art, Part I: Ragamala Pictures from the Western Himalaya Promontory, 1967, fig. 58, discussion on pp. 131-132, no. 36. Here Hemala is depicted as a solitary female ascetic, unaccompanied by jackals. Though clearly leading a life of austere practice, unlike Mahadeva she is adorned by especially rich jewellery of pearls and gold. By contrast, our painter is keen to emphasise through every element the rudimentary simplicity of Mahadeva’s existence.
The Indian jackal (Canis aureus indicus), also known as the Himalayan jackal, is a subspecies of golden jackal native to Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Burma and Nepal. Golden jackals appear prominently in Indian and Nepali folklore where they often take over the role of the trickster played by the red fox in Europe and north America. While in folk mythology jackals share their scavenged food with ascetics, they are of iconographic significance to Mahadeva as the name Shiva also means “jackal”.
A drawing depicting Hemala as a bearded ascetic meditating in the rain is illustrated in Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, 1973, p. 284, no. 341. The Berlin picture also has a backdrop with a thunderstorm atmosphere, an element of the iconography prescribed by Kshemakarna that is missing from our picture, perhaps on account of the fact that Shiva is never depicted in the rain. According to Ebeling and the Waldschmidts, Kshemakarna’s verse 103 compares the music of Hemala Ragaputra to the sounds produced by the conjunction or mixing of fire (lightning) and water (rain), in other words, thunder.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959)
Mahadeva is seated cross-legged in the padmasana lotus position, counting his string of rudrakshamala beads made from the seeds of the evergreen broad-leaved tree
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Jerry Losty and Robert Skelton for their expert advice and kind reading of the inscriptions.
53 G AU DA R AG A P U T R A O F S R I R AG A India (Bilaspur), 1730-1740 Height: 27 cm Width: 17.2 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a Ragamala series. Inscribed on the reverse in takri: sri raga da putra raga g(a)uda hibha?? Inscribed in devanagari: sri rage da putra raga g(a)uda tritiya 3 patra 9 [but 10 above] Further inscribed in takri: sri rage da putra raga g(a)uda / patha 3 “Gauda Raga, third son of Sri Raga”.
The verses that constitute Kshemakarna’s Ragamala system often offer poetic but vague iconographies of little use to the painters who created the first Pahari Ragamalas, forcing the artists to invent their own imagery to illustrate some of the musical modes. A case in point is Gauda (or Gumda) Ragaputra, which according to stanza 109 is vehemently sung by the “royal bird”, perhaps a jay. The ragaputra is personified in the dhyana stanza 77 as simply “a worshipper of Vishnu”.1 The striking image of an acrobat dancing over a katar (thrust-dagger) accompanied by a drummer is therefore the product of the painter’s imagination as it is not specified by the text. Ragamalas are an unequal blend of music, poetry and painting; painters are not musicians, and poets such as Kshemakarna may have little knowledge of musical performance despite excelling at poetry. According to Klaus Ebeling in Ragamala Painting, 1973, p. 54, Kshemakarna’s Ragamala appears to have been written for the express purpose of visualisation. He notes that by musical standards it is very untechnical, especially when compared with
the system devised by the ancient musical author Hanuman, whose visual couplets are followed by verses listing musical properties such as scales, leading notes and performance times. However, by the standards of poetry and painting, Kshemakarna’s system is very sophisticated, if at times visually imprecise. It is thus with interest that we study this painting of music accompanying a vigorous dance. The painter cannot record the melody but in his depiction of an acrobatic handstand heightened by the added danger of the dagger pointed at the dancer’s face, we must imagine the music to be fast moving, rhythmic and exciting. The drummer leans forward, urging the dancer on. According to Ernst and Leonore Waldschmidt in Miniatures of Musical Inspiration in
the Collection of the Berlin Museum of Indian Art, Part I: Ragamala Pictures from the Western Himalaya Promontory, 1967, p. 81, the barrel-like drum he plays is a mardala. The Waldschmidts illustrate in fig. 10 a mardala drum that accompanies a juggler and a woman dancing on her hands. Similar in size to the mridanga but with drum-heads of equal width, the mardala is slung by a strap over the left shoulder and played with a curved stick in one hand and by the palm of the other, thus generating two different types of sound for a syncopated rhythm. The mridanga has by contrast drum-heads of differing diameters, the larger one producing a lower bass note while the smaller creates a higher pitch. Notes on both types of drum can also be resonated together, producing harmonics as well as beats. The drum is tuned by leather straps laced in a zig zag around its circumference and held in a state of high tension to stretch out the goatskin membrane covering the apertures on each end. Wooden pegs are slid under the straps for fine tuning, here only on the left side thus raising the pitch on that face. Similar attention to detail is applied to the figures who wear the striped shorts sported by acrobats, athletes, strong men and fairground performers in Pahari paintings. From beneath a turban with a gold mesh band and a spindly aigrette trail the drummer’s gossamer locks. The dancer has a fine coating of body hair including the piquant detail of hairy ankles.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Jerry Losty and Robert Skelton for their expert advice and kind reading of the inscriptions. Reference: 1. Waldschmidt, 1967, p. 124; Ebeling, 1973, p. 76.
54 SANGIR RAGAPUTRA OF SRI RAGA India (Bilaspur), 1730-1740 Height: 26.7 cm Width: 17.7 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a Ragamala series. Inscribed on the reverse in takri: sri raga da raga sangir 5 / paja[??] Inscribed in devanagari: sri rage da putra raga sangir pajoya 5/ patra 11 [corrected above to] 14 Further inscribed in takri: sri rage da putra raga sangir / patha 5 “Sangir Raga, fifth son of Sri Raga”. A boat containing four women and an old man reading a holy text is steered by a ferryman with a pole. The boat has a lion’s head finial at the prow and an antelope head on the stern, and the crouching legs of the animals are an elegant decorative feature of the hull. Two oars are tethered to the gunwale by rope, while a red flag surmounting an onion dome flies against the blue sky at the top of the pavilion of stacked cabins. Fish swim in the swirling waves of the sea, poking their heads above water to observe the boating excursion and share gleefully in its many pleasures. Floating in attendance is a single conch shell. We have not encountered or seen in publications either the striking iconography of this picture or the unusual name of Sangir Ragaputra,
fifth son of Sri Raga. Jerry Losty has kindly suggested that Sangir may be meant for Gunasagara, Sagara being the ocean and hence the boat. Gunasagara is listed in Kshemakarna’s Ragamala system as Sri Raga’s fifth son, which fits the inscriptions. A painting entitled Saranga (or Gunasagara) Ragaputra is illustrated in Ernst and Leonore Waldschmidt, Miniatures of Musical Inspiration in the Collection of the Berlin Museum of Indian Art, Part I: Ragamala Pictures from the Western Himalaya Promontory, 1967, fig. 31. The image of a lady churning cream in a big round pot is very different from our charming boat trip. It is derived from the sound of Gunasagara which is compared by Kshemakarna in stanza 102 (where he refers to the mode simply as Sagara), to that of twirling sour milk to turn it into curds or butter. This is the iconography by which Saranga is usually portrayed. Much rarer is the depiction of the dhyana stanza 79, quoted by the Waldschmidts on p. 170, in which Gunasagara is described as a learned Brahmin, in a white garment, skilled in virtues, enjoying himself in the
company of friends in the water of the ocean. This perfectly describes our picture. Added resonance comes from the name Sagara who in the Ramayana is the Lord of the Waters, Rama’s ancestor, who affords Rama and the monkey armies safe passage over the sea to Lanka. After Rama performs austerities on the shore for three nights and threatens Sagara by shooting flaming arrows at the sea, Sagara rises from the waves accompanied by an entourage of river goddesses led by Ganga and the Indus. It may be the river goddesses that we see accompanying King Sagara on our boat. This painting is from the same series as two paintings also formerly in the Alma Latifi Collection, discussed in W. G. Archer, Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, 1973, vol. I, p. 237, Kahlur (Bilaspur) nos. 31(i) and 31(ii); vol. II, p. 179, pls. 31(i) and 31(ii). These are Sandhuri Ragini, consort of Hindola Raga, and his son, Vinoda Ragaputra. Delight in pattern making is a constant feature of this series that can be seen in the very different but equally inventive and beautiful wave formations in Sandhuri Ragini 31(i), where three women swim, supported by empty pitchers used as floats, while a fourth stands combing her wet tresses on the shore.
In contrast to the interlocking ogival waves filled with lilting parallel lines in Sangir, the water in Sandhuri is a mesh of soft ectoplasmic squares, each wave radiating outwards concentrically from the core.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Jerry Losty and Robert Skelton for their expert advice and kind reading of the inscriptions.
55 MEGHA RAGA India (Bilaspur), 1730-1740 Height: 26.7 cm Width: 17.7 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a Ragamala series. Inscribed on the reverse in takri: sri, magherag, chhava Inscribed in devanagari: sri megha raga chhawa 6/ patra 1 / 15/ Further inscribed in takri: sri raga megha raga chheva patha 1 “The sixth raga, Megha Raga”. Megha Raga is a melody sung in the morning by the peacock to herald the beginning of the rainy season. Megha means “rain cloud” and in Kshemakarna’s dhyana stanza 74, Megha Raga is described as “dark-skinned in body, wearing lightning as a garment”.1 Amongst other things, we are told by the poem that Megha is “the sun for the joy of the lotus-heart of peacocks” and “the tree of paradise conducive to happiness
at day break in the rainy season”.2 The peacock has a special relation with the first clouds of the monsoon, which it welcomes with cries of joy and dancing from the tops of trees and palace turrets.3 The peacock is a symbol of Krishna and in light of Kshemakarna’s description of Megha’s dark complexion, in many Pahari Ragamala paintings, the melody is personified as Krishna, the blue-skinned lord. In this darkly atmospheric painting set to a backdrop of turbulent rain clouds from which pour continuous streams of rain drops in steady parallel lines, Krishna is seated on the bright veranda of a white marble palace, holding a sheathed khanda over his shoulder and a coconut in his hand, facing a warrior also wielding a khanda and a black shield. The impression is of kshatriya warriors resting after a battle, enjoying the cool refreshing atmosphere brought by the rain, while remaining warm and dry in the well-lit interior filled with the convivial gemütlich generated by Krishna’s own charm and presence, so “conducive to happiness”. As an avatar of Vishnu, Krishna should carry a conch shell, but the small coconut of the same shape brings the promise of a delicious
breakfast to be shared when cut open by the khandas they hold. The khanda is a straight-bladed double-edged sword unique to India, the traditional weapon of choice by Rajput and Sikh warriors for close combat. Unlike other straight-bladed swords, the khanda is poorly designed for thrusting as it has a blunt tip, but its edges are used for hacking and slicing in close proximity to the enemy. The blade broadens from the hilt to the abrupt point. While both edges are sharp, one side usually has a strengthening plate along most of its length, which adds weight to the downward cuts and allows the wielder to place their hand on the plated edge. The khanda is a metaphor for divine knowledge as its sharp edges cleave truth from falsehood.
stretches out inner components such as doors, towers and turrets. Note the tall and thin chini kana compartments, the attenuated surahis (long-necked vases) and the slim chhatris (kiosks) rising from the rooftop, also observed in Sanehi Ragini in our cat. no. 49. Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Jerry Losty and Robert Skelton for their expert advice and kind reading of the inscriptions. References: 1. Ernst and Leonore Waldschmidt, Miniatures of Musical Inspiration in the Collection of the Berlin Museum of Indian Art, Part I: Ragamala Pictures from the Western Himalaya Promontory, 1967, pp. 156-157;
A drawing of Megha as a lord standing under rain clouds holding a conch shell is illustrated in Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, 1973, p. 273, no. 301. The atmosphere of a household during a rainstorm is enhanced by the charming detail of the raised platform paduka shoes that the lord wears, keeping his feet dry above the wet ground. The elongated vertical format of this Ragamala series
Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, 1973, pp. 76 and 273. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid.
56 SANK ARADHARA RAGAPUTRA OF MEGHA RAGA India (Bilaspur), 1730-1740 Height: 26.7 cm Width: 17.7 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a Ragamala series. Inscribed on the reverse in takri: megha rage da putra ragaga sankaradhara Inscribed in devanagari: megha raje da putra raga sankaradhara saptam 7 / patra 13 Further inscribed in takri: megha rage da putra raga sankadhara / patha 1 “Sankaradhara Raga, seventh son of Megha Raga”.
Sankaradhara is a male devotee worshipping the lingam at a Shiva shrine. Approaching the sanctuary in bare feet, dressed only in a yellow dhoti with a sash of diaphanous gauze and simple gold discs and rudrakshamala beads (“Shiva’s teardrops”) worn as necklaces and bracelets on his otherwise naked torso, Sankaradhara lustrates the lingam with water poured from the spout of a golden aftaba (jug) as he rings the temple bell. His face is a model of concentration as he aims the stream of water precisely over the tip of the lingam so that it flows smoothly over the white datura blossoms into the yoni strewn with further white flowers. The lingam and yoni are placed on a waisted pedestal of hour-glass shape representative of Mount Meru, the centre of the world. The water cascades from the spout of the yoni to flow through the tiger’s mouth of the kirttimukha (face of glory) carved at the base of the shrine into a square basin on the immaculately tended and stepped green slopes. The roof of the shrine
is engulfed by dense thickets from which sprout flowering stems. Sankara, meaning “conferring happiness”, is one of the attributes of Shiva as the bringer of luck. A painting depicting Sankaradhara Ragaputra as a female devotee in a Ragamala set from Basohli-Bilaspur is illustrated in Ernst and Leonore Waldschmidt, Miniatures of Musical Inspiration in the Collection of the Berlin Museum of Indian Art, Part I: Ragamala Pictures from the Western Himalaya Promontory, 1967, fig. 5; pp.168-169. A drawing depicting Sankaradhara as a portly, bearded male ascetic lustrating a lingam from a spouted vessel is illustrated in Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, 1973, p. 284, no. 340. The Waldschmidts note that Kshemakarna’s stanza 108 describes the musical mode Sankarabharana or Samkara as the sound of washing garments on a stone. While these pictures do not illustrate the laundry process, the lustration of the lingam would produce a similar noise of water coursing over stone, and the gurgling it makes as it flows away.
hallucinogenic properties used by sadhus as adjuncts to Shiva puja.2 The flowers are trumpet shaped, giving rise to the popular names angel’s or devil’s trumpet. They open in the evening to emit a rich luscious fragrance.3 Datura is often depicted in Hindu Tantric art in connection with Shiva. According to the Vamana Purana, the Thorn Apple grew out of Shiva’s chest. The Garuda Purana states that the flowers were offered to Yogeshwara (Shiva) on the thirteenth day of the waxing moon in January. In Nepal, datura flowers and fruits are important gifts of the Newari tribe to appease Shiva during puja. In Varanasi, Shiva’s favourite city, datura garlands are draped around the yoni, while fresh blossoms are strewn on top of the lingam.4 Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Jerry Losty and Robert Skelton for their expert advice and kind reading of the inscriptions. References:
The flowers of the Indian Thorn Apple (Datura metel) that grace the lingam, and its prickly fruits, hence the name, have ancient associations with Shiva and his rituals. Its medicinal uses date back over three thousand years.1 The Thorn Apple contains seeds with narcotic and
1. Mahakant Jha and Ramesh Kumar Pandey, “Datura Metel L. A Potential Genus for Medicinal Uses”, in The Sociascan: An International Journal of Ethno and Social Sciences, 3(1&2), 2011, pp. 21-24, www.socioscan.org; Christian Rätsch, The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications, 1998, pp. 204-205. 2. Anna L. Dallapiccola, Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend, 2002, p. 57. 3. Jha and Pandey, 2011, pp. 21-24. 4. Ibid.
57 M A H A R A N A J A G AT S I N G H I I HUNTING BOAR India (Udaipur), circa 1740 By Naga, son of Pharasa Height: 21 cm Width: 35.9 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper. Inscribed on the reverse in devanagari with the subject of the painting: sri: sri maharajadhiraja maharanaji sri jagat syanghji ri surat: sur ri sikar ro pano: kalami citaro nago pharasa ro “Portrait of Maharana Jagat Singh hunting boar, by the artist Naga son of Pharasa”. Above the main inscription is the royal Mewar library inventory number 1/235, followed by the number 118, which has been deleted, and an old valuation of Rs. 5. The name Pharasa is unusual and may be a form of Farash.1 Riding at full gallop on his chestnut brown stallion, the nimbated Maharana Jagat Singh II (reigned 1734-1751) leans down with his sabre, slashing a boar on the run. Another boar runs ahead in a desperate attempt to escape a similar fate. Despite his portly frame, Jagat Singh cuts an impressive figure, riding and hunting with evident skill.
He wears a red tunic decorated with gold sprigs and breeches fastened with a gold patka (sash) into which his katar (thrust-dagger) is tucked. His outfit is completed by yellow riding boots. The steed is just as splendid, his mane combed into chevron tresses festooned with multi-coloured ribbons. Three retainers run alongside carrying royal insignia, symbols of the Rana’s authority. Two of the retainers bear chowries (flywhisks) while a third holds aloft the changi, a standard consisting of a disc of black felt or ostrich feathers radiating from a gold solar face. The hunt takes place against a brilliant verdigris hillside with moss-green foreground and background, creating an abstracted interplay of green shades highlighted by the Rana’s vermillion and gold costume details. White marble temples surrounded by houses dot the hilly landscape in the far distance. Charming anecdotal details of village life are lit by the rays of the sun rising between two hills on the right. Gopas (cowherds) tend their flocks with the assistance of scampering dogs while gopis carry milk jugs on their heads. Cows graze by
a zig zag stream that flows through the village on the right, echoing the lotus pond with a zig zag edge in the foreground of the painting. For a discussion of Maharana Jagat Singh II and his workshops see Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, chapter 7, in which this painting is illustrated on p. 192, fig. 170. According to Topsfield, many of the better hunting pictures from the reign of Jagat Singh elect for the smaller scale and closer viewpoint, closer to the Mughal ideal, as seen earlier during the reign of Amar Singh, and sometimes under Sangram Singh.2 The small scale and close viewpoint are seen in this refined painting with its simplified treatment of the landscape, reduced number of figures, divisions into variegated colour areas and distant views of village life.
pictures from Jagat Singh’s reign constructed along similar compositional principles.3 The close viewpoint and clear tripartite division into foreground, middle ground and background can be seen in “Jagat Singh stalking deer with the aid of a bullock” dated 1743, where he uses the bullock as a decoy and hide. This is published in the Sotheby’s London catalogue, Indian Miniatures: The Property of the British Rail Pension Fund, Tuesday, 26th April, 1994, lot 36. A picture of “Jagat Singh shooting deer with a matchlock” is illustrated in the Sotheby’s London catalogue, Persian and Indian Manuscripts and Miniatures from the collection formed by the British Rail Pension Fund, Tuesday 23rd April, 1996, lot 33. The diverse methods of hunting employed in these paintings demonstrate Jagat Singh’s enthusiasm for the sport. Published: Andrew Topsfield, Court Paintings at Udaipur:
As a comparison, Topsfield draws our attention to two deer hunting
Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, p. 192, fig. 170. Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Andrew Topsfield for his expert advice and kind reading of the inscription. References: 1. Personal communication with Andrew Topsfield. 2. Andrew Topsfield, Court Paintings at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, p. 191. 3. Ibid., p. 210, fn. 56.
58 K ANADA RAGINI India (Provincial Mughal, probably Lucknow), circa 1780 Height: 26.5 cm Width: 17.4 cm
Opaque watercolour heighted with gold and silver on paper. An illustration to a Ragamala series. A dramatic scene unfurls in the depths of the night under a sky dimly lit by a smattering of dark stars. A lord riding a cantering horse holds an elephant tusk in one hand. He is saluted by two hunters that stand before him, both wearing floor-length jamas and carrying spears. The elephant which he has killed lies at the bottom of the picture with one tusk removed, its massive carcass collapsed and convulsed by its writhing death throes into a contorted form. The elaborate contrapposto of the beast retains within its gamut of twisted postures the recent history of its enraged combat: the legs still placed for charging; ferocious attempts to rut the lord still apparent in the now truncated tusk and tensely coiled trunk.
The lord is accompanied by a courtier that rides alongside holding a parasol. In the background, a princess seated under a red awning watches from a crenelated palace balcony; one of her two companions standing behind waves a chowrie (flywhisk). The ladies of the court echo the rhythmic pairing of the horses and the two hunters praising their lord’s prowess in unison. This painting depicts the musical mode, Kanada or Karnata Ragini, which as Andrew Topsfield notes, is named after the Karnataka region of Southern India, where it may have originated as a hunting melody.1 The ragini is visualised as a princely warrior who has shown his valour by slaying an elephant and is often depicted blue-skinned like the god Krishna.2 In his discussion of a seventeenth century Kanada Ragini illustration by the Bikaner artist Ruknuddin, now at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Topsfield observes that elephants were too highly valued in India
to be hunted in this way, so the subject may allude to the Bhagavata Purana story of Krishna’s defeat of Kuvalayapida, the demonic elephant sent by the wicked king Kamsa to kill Krishna before he enters the arena at Mathura, where he slays Kamsa’s champion wrestlers, then Kamsa himself.3 The text describes how Krishna tears off Kuvalayapida’s tusk, then uses it to gouge the elephant and kill the mahout. In this painting, Krishna is further identified by his peacock crown and nimbus. Klaus Ebeling publishes an eighteenth century Deccani picture of the subject in Ragamala Painting, 1973, pp. 82-83, no. C29. This shows the slain elephant at Krishna’s feet alongside a box of severed heads that may be Kamsa’s four champion wrestlers. The Ashmolean Museum painting described by Topsfield has an earlier iconography of Kanada Ragini in which the defeated elephant is not depicted. Ebeling illustrates on p. 236, no. 167, a seventeenth century Marwar painting, and in no.168, an early eighteenth century Amber painting, both without the elephant.
These examples suggest that the elephant was added to the iconography of the heroic slayer and his saluting admirers around 1700, and then widely adapted during the eighteenth century. Ernst and Rose Leonore Waldschmidt note that in sixteenth and seventeenth century paintings, congratulations take place in the vicinity of the hero’s house, whereas in eighteenth century pictures, the scene is the very spot of the heroic deed, located in a mountainous region with the carcass of the elephant in the foreground. Our late eighteenth century painting combines the wilderness with an approach to the prince’s palace, and elaborates on his regal splendour by the addition of retainers and a royal consort. A note attached to the back of the old frame by the dealer Ray Lewis of Marin County, California, informs us that the portrait inserted by the palace wall depicts the patron of the painting. For comparison Lewis draws our attention to Ivan Stchoukine, La peinture indienne à l’epoque des grands Moghols, 1929, pl. 89.
Provenance: Marjorie D. Schwarz, collected 1965-1974 Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice. References: 1. Andrew Topsfield, Indian paintings from Oxford collections, 1994, pp. 44-45, no. 19. 2. Ibid. 3. Topsfield, 1994, p. 44. 4. 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, 1975, p. 97; and pp. 93-96, figs. 25-29.
59 M A H A R A O R A M S I N G H I I A R R I V E S AT A F O R T India (Kota), circa 1850 By Chauto Icchu Height: 69 cm Width: 78.7 cm
Ink with colour washes and areas of opaque watercolour on paper, laid down on cloth. A Rajasthani inscription written in kaithi to the top of the red border describes the subject: “Rao Raja Maharaja Ram Singh ji has arrived at the qila [fort], his divan [minister] ji Thaujya is with him. [The work] of Chauto [or Little] Icchu.” This painting depicts Maharao Ram Singh II of Kota (reigned 1827-1866) arriving at the gate of an imposing fort set by a river, accompanied by a large retinue forming a grand procession. He is seated on an elephant in a howdah under a golden parasol, fanned by three attendants bearing chowries (flywhisks). Ram Singh’s profile with his distinctive sideburns is framed by a nimbus. Minister Thaujya rides on an elephant next to the ruler. The red palki, a covered palanquin, probably contains one or more of his wives who are in purdah. Beyond the fortress walls, parts of the army that have already entered the compound wheel heavy bronze cannons drawn by elephants. Crocodiles and fish swim in the river to the foreground. Birds wade on the zig zag edge of the water while peacocks cry from the treetops. Curious monkeys excited by the arrival of the army clamber mischievously on the parapets. Robert J Del Bonta has observed that although the painting is unfinished, the way the artist has added colour washes, some rather dense, gives the whole a completed quality. Each key element is highlighted in some way. Where the Maharao is essentially finished in colour, the procession above him within the fort stands out by being placed against a striking orange background.
Judging by the crenelated battlements, with regularly spaced square openings for shooting through, the massive round towers, the arched gates and the river location, the fortress in this picture may be Gagraon, one of Kota’s major forts, depicted in a painting of “Maharao Ram Singh playing polo near Gagraon”. This is illustrated in Stuart Cary Welch (ed.), Gods, Kings and Tigers: The Art of Kotah, 1997, pp. 202-203, no. 63. According to Welch, Gagraon is explicitly rendered in this painting along with a schematic but accurate presentation of the terrain and surroundings. Suspended on a summit at the amalgamation of the Kali, Sindh and Ahu Rivers, Gagraon is a fine example of a hill and water fort, both elements clearly seen in our painting. However, Jerry Losty notes that in our painting the two parts of the fortress are divided by a river with ramparts on either side, which is not the case at Gagraon, and part of it seems more of a city wall than a fortress. The area beyond is populated, with houses dotting the landscape, while Gagraon is set in bleak mountainous terrain. It is thus possible that Ram Singh is entering Kota Fort overlooking the Chambal river in the city of Kota itself. If our Gagraon suggestion is correct, then the fort is depicted with considerably less topographical accuracy than in the polo painting. A painting with multiple similarities of detail and composition but with a horizontal extension of the procession and fortified walls
backed by a panorama of wooded hills to the right, and many white buildings to the centre and upper left, is illustrated in the Sotheby’s London catalogue, The Indian Sale, 24th May 2007, cat. no. 10. This was originally exhibited at the Waddington Galleries in London in 1978 and published in their catalogue, Indian Paintings, 1978, no. 39 and on the front cover. The huge and very grand procession in the Waddington picture suggests that it depicts Ram Singh’s state visit to the Emperor Bahadur Shah II in Delhi in 1842. We thus find ourselves with a third plausible interpretation of our closely related painting, which may in a simplified way also depict Ram Singh’s grand entry into Delhi through its fortified walls. A celebrated and highly detailed painting of “Maharao Ram Singh II of Kotah visiting Emperor Bahadur Shah” is published in Stuart Cary Welch, India: Art and Culture 1300-1900, 1985, pp. 429-433, no. 285. A detail on pp. 432-433 shows similar city walls with clusters of white buildings behind. Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice.
60 M A H A R A N A S A R U P S I N G H I N T H E A K H A R A M A H A L PA L A C E C O U R T YA R D A F T E R P L AY I N G H O L I India (Udaipur), dated 1848 By the Mewar artist Tara Height: 68.5 cm Width: 49.2 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. Inscribed in devanagari to the upper border and on the verso with royal Mewar library inventory numbers and twelve lines of script identifying Maharana Sarup Singh (reigned 1842-1861) and various other figures; the inscription also tells us the name of the artist Tara and records the date of the event: Maharana Sarup Singh of Mewar and his courtiers are seated in the Akhara Mahal [apartments and courtyard just below the City Palace], after playing Holi; this took place at the beginning of the month of Chaitra, V.S. 1905 [i.e.1848]. Opposite the Maharana sit Rao Bakhat Singh of Bedla (in yellow turban); Raval Ghaman Singh of Parsoli; Ravat Bagtavar Singh and Joravar Singh. Gaj Singh, Solanki Mokho, Maharaja Chandji, Sardar Singh and Mohan Singh also attend the Maharana. Pancholi Lachman Das holds the morchal (peacock feather fan); Khavas Visan Nath and Dip Chand also attend.
The courtiers and servants standing in the courtyard below include Dodiya Hathi Ram, Dhikarya Tej Ram, Dhikarya Moro, Shivalal, Mehta Raghunath, Santok Das, Navalo, Ramo, Devo, Moti, Nathu, Dhikarya Udai Ram, Pancholi Ratan Lal, Sahivala Durjan Singh, Pancholi Udai Chand and Masati Ram. The names of the horses which are being exercised in the courtyard are also given: Sur Khasar, Baz Bahadur and Kabul Surat [?]. Ascribed to the artist Tara: kalam cataro taro During the reigns of Sarup Singh’s predecessors Jawan Singh and Sardar Singh, both indifferent patrons, painting at Mewar fell into a moribund state. Tara, whose career spanned thirty years from 1836 to 1868, represents its revival and final flowering. His influence continued to be felt through his talented son, Sivalal. According to Andrew Topsfield, Tara tended by instinct to conservatism but he often attempted more ambitious and adventurous work with enlarged compositions, careful detailing, assured use of colour and hints of European naturalism.1 Tara was no doubt encouraged by Sarup Singh, a keen
patron of the arts, amateur painter and designer of coins and costume, including the Svarupshahi turban seen in this painting.2 Sarup Singh loved sartorial display. Pictures of his reign invariably show him dressed with great panache in sumptuous clothes, elaborate jewellery and exceedingly stylish accessories, which Tara was expected to record in careful detail. Note for example the beautiful splayed and beaded cuffs he sports in the present painting. Sarup Singh was also modish and adventurous in interior design, incorporating French glasswork and Staffordshire plates into the remodelling of palace apartments.3 The present painting is full of charming details reflecting the fruitful combination of Sarup Singh’s taste and Tara’s skill. The striking floral carpet of up-to-the-minute Victorian design is contrasted with the elegant traditional red velvet qanat panels that line the palace windows. A masterstroke by Tara is the use of steps to add diagonals to the predominantly rectangular composition and to connect the
various levels. The viewer’s eye is led upwards by a courtier ascending a flight of steps towards an opening in an otherwise plain white wall. Above, the dark evening sky provides another contrast to the white palace as do the multi-coloured flowers planted in footed urns to the lower right. The white palace becomes a stage set for Sarup Singh and his courtiers, their immaculate white jamas stained by the coloured powder (gulal) used during the festival of Holi. It is through the delightful messiness of the celebration that the figures emerge against the white backdrop; they might otherwise have been difficult to discern. Sarup Singh was apparently skilled at throwing gulal as is evident from surviving pictures showing him excelling at the sport. The most famous is a large and dynamic composition of 1851, almost certainly by Tara, depicting “Maharana Sarup Singh playing Holi on horseback at the City Palace”. This is published in Andrew Topsfield, The City Palace Museum Udaipur: Paintings of Mewar Court Life, 1990, pp. 84-87, no. 30. Topsfield quotes firsthand accounts of Holi by Tod and the artist Val Prinsep, who witnessed the game as it was played at Udaipur. In contrast with pictures giddy with activity, the depiction of a moment of repose after a day of energetic sport is an inspired choice that creates a most original image of Holi.
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Andrew Topsfield for his expert advice and kind reading of the inscriptions. References: 1. Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, p. 256. 2. Ibid., pp. 254-256. 3. Ibid., pp. 254-255.
61 T H E H E AV E N LY D U R B A R O F R A M A India (Mandi, style of Sajnu), circa 1810 Height: 25.2 cm Width: 29.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. Dressed in a resplendent yellow robe and armed with a bow, Rama, the seventh avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu, presides over a heavenly durbar or audience, at which his fellow gods and holy sages (rishis) pay homage to him. Rama stands on a hexagonal lotus throne in a central pavilion under a golden umbrella, accompanied by Sita and attended by Lakshmana who waves a chowrie (flywhisk). A group of four female attendants stand behind the royal figures, one bearing a flywhisk and another, a gold and gem-set pandan on a dish. The interior walls of the pavilion are carved with chini kana niches and the entrance shaded by a red velvet awning. On the floor of the pavilion is a red carpet.
The assembly of gods standing on the left is led by four-armed Vishnu who holds his mace (gada) in one hand and his discus (chakra) in another. Vishnu’s crown is surmounted by a peacock feather aigrette, an attribute usually sported by another of Vishnu’s avatars, Krishna. Standing behind Vishnu is four-headed Brahma carrying the Vedas or sacred texts. Behind Brahma are the vermillion coloured Surya, the god of the sun, and pale, silvery Chanda, god of the moon, both with nimbuses. In the foreground are lesser gods without nimbuses and rishis dressed in simple, austere robes or animal pelts. On the right are further celestial beings standing in adoration and to the front, a band of animal and bird-headed musicians. A bear and a monkey play the shehnai (a double-reed instrument); a parrot plucks a tanpura (a string instrument that creates a drone); a ram plays a pakhavaj (long cylindrical drum), rhythmically hitting both ends with the palms of his hands, and a goat plays a pair of naqarra (kettle-drums) using drum sticks. A closely related painting with a very similar composition in the Cynthia Hazen Polsky Collection is illustrated in Andrew Topsfield (ed.), In the Realm of Gods and Kings: Arts of India, 2004, pp. 104-105, cat. no 38. In this painting, it is Shiva who stands in the pavilion accompanied by Parvati. On the left, Vishnu, Brahma, Surya and Chandra lead the gods and sages paying homage. Animal and bird-headed celestial musicians on the right provide entertainment. This painting in the Polsky Collection has been assigned to Mandi in the style of Sajnu by Topsfield and Terence McInerney who published it in Indian Paintings from the Polsky Collection, 1982, no. 24. This is an attribution we follow for our painting.
According to Topsfield, Sajnu was an influential artist from the Pahari Hills who was active between circa 1790 to 1830 and practised his own angular and elaborately detailed version of the late eighteenth century Guler-Kangra style. We can see characteristics of Sajnu’s manner in both our painting and that of Mrs Polsky’s: every surface densely patterned; crowds of figures clustered into large groups; layers of ornate architecture and profuse but formally planted vegetation receding into the background; and lines of sight continually intercepted by further finely worked details. Sajnu is thought to have originated from Kangra, though W. G. Archer has proposed that on the grounds of style and subject matter his work seems more closely connected to that of Guler. Sajnu began working for Raja Isvari Sen of Mandi in 1808. As Isvari Sen’s leading artist, Sajnu transformed the Mandi court style into one clearly influenced by both Kangra and Guler painting though in a manner that replaces naturalism and simplicity with intricate decorative details. A painting showing a celestial durbar of Vishnu’s axe-wielding sixth avatar Parasurama is in the Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill. This is published in Ackland Art Museum, Intimate views: Indian miniature paintings from the 16th to 19th century, 1995, fig. 4. This third painting of similar construction and theme suggests that all three come from a now dispersed Mandi series depicting celestial durbars. Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE Private London Collection Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Terence McInerney and Andrew Topsfield for their expert advice.
62 L A DY A N D H E R P E T B I R D India (Kangra), circa 1800 Height: 17 cm Width: 11.8 cm
Opaque water colour heightened with gold on paper. On a white marble terrace bordered by a low balustrade, a lady holds a wine cup high in an attempt to attract her pet bird that has flown from the open cage into the branches of the blossoming tree in the garden beyond. The bird, a green parakeet, is keenly aware of
the ladyâ€™s wish that it flies down to drink from her cup and return to its cage, but for the moment, the bird refuses to respond, though it looks straight at her eye, taunting her. The lady is understandably agitated and holds her head with her other hand in despair. Her psychological state is discreetly indicated by the telling detail of her sleeve which has ripped at her elbow. On the floor in front of the lady is the metal cage with its arched portcullis raised. The lady might have opened the cage to feed the bird or to train it in the arts of speech and song. Lying next to the cage on the ground is a crook from which the birdcage could be suspended for ease of carriage, a lota (water vessel) and another cup. The string dangling from the handle of the birdcage seems to have snapped. The blossoms of the tree and the clouds in the sky above are white as the marble terrace on which the scene is set, allowing the ladyâ€™s jet black hair, her yellow, green and saffron costume and her hennaed fingers to stand out in the composition.
Birdcages were a common sight in the fashionable homes of the affluent classes, housing such birds as the Mynah and Sharma, as well as other exotic species. It was considered an art to train a parrot to speak and a pleasure to listen to a bird sing. There are numerous depictions of birdcages of various forms and materials in miniature paintings of the era, for example a painting of a birdcage with parakeets illustrated in Naveen Patnaik and Stuart Cary Welch, A Second Paradise: Indian Courtly Life 1590-1947, 1985, p. 36. In this painting, another level of meaning underlies the fashionable pursuit of keeping a songbird. The bird that has flown its cage may be read as the lover who has deserted the nayika (heroine), and she is now alone and in despair, the empty cage expressing her desolation. However, the gentle smile on her face indicates that she is not without hope of enticing him to return.
Provenance: The Doris Wiener Collection, 1972
63 HIDE-AND-SEEK India (Kangra), circa 1810 Height: 21.5 cm Width: 16.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a verse from the Sat Sai of Bihari. With a Mandi Royal Library stamp on the reverse containing the number 548. In the idyllic setting of rolling hills, lit by the tender, fading light during the beautiful sunset Hour of Cowdust (go-dhuli), Krishna plays a game of hide-and-seek with Radha, the gopis (milkmaids) and the gopas (cowherds). The composition is divided into two by a tree with densely clustered leaves, dangling blossoms, gnarled roots and a textured trunk around which a vine is lovingly entwined. Birds perch or flutter amidst the branches. To the right of the tree, hidden from the other players of the game, Krishna has discovered Radha seated within a clump of flowering bushes. He now secretly embraces his shy, furtive companion as the reward for his discovery of her hiding place. To the left of the tree, we see a gopa covering the eyes of the next player to seek the others who rush to hide in different parts of the landscape. Two gopis run towards a hiding place beyond the left border, one looking back to point with excitement at the gopa who is counting down to when he can begin the hunt. A most charming detail in the foreground is the rear of a gopa who crawls behind a bush. Another gopa, holding his cap with his hand on his head, seems uncertain as to which direction to turn, his body twisted in an agitated contrapposto that expresses his indecision. In the background, villagers who are not playing hide-and-seek calmly tend to the herds of cattle returning home after a day of grazing in the verdant fields. In the distance, the houses of the
villages are clustered on the slopes and summits of the hills. The clouds and sky are delicately streaked with vermillion under the darkening azure of the firmament. Though our painting is uninscribed, we know the subject because the composition is based on a celebrated painting from the Kronos Collections, New York, that illustrates a doha (couplet) from the Sat Sai (Seven Hundred Verses) of Bihari Lal. The Kronos painting is from the dispersed “Kangra Bihari” Sat Sai of circa 1785, probably painted by the artist Fattu (active circa 1770-1820) for Maharaja Sansar Chand who reigned in Kangra from 1775 to 1823. A distinctive feature of the series is the Mughal style oval format; all but two of the forty finished paintings are oval in shape with dark blue spandrels. The artist of our painting must have seen the earlier painting upon which our composition is so closely modelled. The change to a rectangular format allows the extra space reclaimed from the spandrels to be used for elaborating the motifs in the denser manner of the early nineteenth century. The tree which is vertical in the Fattu composition, with a smooth bark and light covering of leaves, now leans diagonally to the right with a profusion of leaves and textured bark. The spare cluster of buildings is amplified into townscapes with many tightly bunched houses. The gopa’s rump sticking out from the bush is an inventive and humorous addition not seen in the original. The Kronos Collections painting has been published by M. S. Randhawa in Kangra Paintings of the Bihari Sat Sai, 1966, pp. 48-49, plate II. It has also been recently exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and published in Terence McInerney with Steven M. Kossak and Navina Najat Haidar, Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts, 2016,
pp. 234-235, cat. no. 90. A translation of the Hindi inscription on the reverse is given on p. 48 of Randhawa: “Playing the game of hide-and-seek, the two are not satisfied with its pleasures. When one seeks another, they cling to each other in a warm embrace.” Krishna P. Bahadur in the Penguin Classics edition of the Bihari Sat Sai, 1990, p. 94, couplet 136, provides a slightly different translation that amplifies the meanings of the game: “She never tires of playing blind man’s buff when her lover is there, for every time they hide or touch each other they can ardently embrace.” Bahadur explains in his footnotes on pp. 335-336 that cora-mihicani or blind man’s buff is a game in which six or seven players, both boys and girls, take part. One of them, “the thief”, is blindfolded while the others hide. The thief then removes the blindfold and runs in search of the others. Those who have hidden try to return to the khutavam, the place where the thief was blindfolded. If the thief can touch a player before the player reaches the khutavam, that person becomes the next thief. Many opportunities are provided by the game for the nayaka (hero) and nayika (heroine) to embrace. If the hero takes his turn as the thief, the heroine will be the one to close his eyes, pressing her breasts on his back as she moves close. When they touch each other during the game, they can have a hurried embrace. Best of all, if neither is the thief and if they are hidden from the rest of the players as in the paintings, they can embrace to their hearts’ content. Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Steve Kossak for his expert advice.
64 M AT S YA R E C O V E R S T H E V E D A S F R O M T H E D E M O N D A M A N A K A India (Kangra), circa 1830 Height: 15 cm Width: 18.7 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration from a Dasavarata (Ten Incarnations of Vishnu) series. Matsya, the first of ten incarnations (avatars) of Vishnu is visualised as either a great fish or as a half-man and half-fish, carrying in his four arms Vishnu’s attributes: the shankha (conch), the chakra (discus), the padma (lotus) and the gada (mace).1 In this painting, instead of the usual lotus, Matsya carries in his upper left hand the Vedas or sacred texts, which he has just recovered from Damanaka, the demon of ignorance who has stolen the Vedas from Brahma and hidden in the conch shell from which he now emerges. The story takes place during the time of the great deluge or dissolution of the cosmos (pralaya) at the end of the last era, in which the world is drowned by water after seven days of relentless rain and floods, with waves as high as the mountains.2
Just before the flood, Manu, the first man or progenitor of the species, is bathing in a river when a little fish called Matsya swims into his hands. Matsya asks Manu to rescue him from the larger fish and he in turn will rescue the world. Full of compassion for the tiny creature, Manu carries him home in his water pot (kamandalu) but the fish grows larger so Manu transfers him to an urn. As the days pass and Matsya keeps growing, Manu moves him to a well, then to a pond, then to a lake and finally to the open sea where he continues to grow. Astounded, Manu asks the fish, “who are you?”, and Matsya answers by revealing himself as Vishnu, the preserver of life.3 Anticipating the flood, Matsya advises Manu to gather the seed of every plant and a pair of every bird and beast in the world and put them into a huge ship, a story with clear parallels with the biblical tale of Noah’s ark.4 It is during the deluge that the asura Damanaka, taking advantage of the chaos, steals the Vedas from Brahma and disappears into the depths of the sea. As Matsya is towing Manu’s ship with its precious cargo to safety with the horn he has just sprouted, Manu suddenly realises that in his anxiety to save plant and animal life, he has forgotten to help Brahma look after the Vedas. Matsya immediately plunges into the dark flood waters to look for the texts
and eventually finds them in the hands of Damanaka, who has hidden himself in a conch shell. Matsya cracks open Damanaka’s skull with his mace, recovers the Vedas and gives them to Manu for safekeeping on board the ship. Matsya then steers the ship to Mount Meru where from its peak, Manu watches the world being swallowed by the waters.5
Vishnu: An Introduction, 1998, p. 10. According to Anna Dallapiccola, Matsya symbolises existence emerging from the waters of non-existence.6
Though the action of the painting takes place during the flood, the artist has given the setting a shoreline with grass and trees in the green fields beyond. Four personifications of the Vedas watch the demon’s defeat from the shore. The vivid imagery of the demon emerging from the shell, paralleled by Vishnu’s emergence from the mouth of the fish, is also seen in a Pahari painting of the same subject published in Devdutt Pattanaik,
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE Private London Collection
1. Anna L. Dallapiccola, Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend, 2002, pp. 134 and 203. 2. The story of Matsya given here is compiled from Devdutt Pattanaik, Vishnu: An Introduction, 1998, pp. 7-10. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid. 6. Dallapiccola, 2002, p. 134.
65 T H E S P O R T S O F S H I VA I N T H E S A C R E D M O U N TA I N S India (Jodhpur), circa 1827 Height: 44.5 cm Width: 44.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper within a yellow border. An illustration to a Shiva Rahasya series. The perfect square shape of this charming painting depicting the abode of Shiva on the summit of Mount Kailash forms a prelude to the enchantments contained within the finely balanced composition. On the left we see Shiva’s magnificent palace perched on craggy rocks, but the ascetic god prefers to forgo its luxuries choosing to meditate in the bracing outdoors, seated amongst the rocks on his tiger pelt, with the river Ganga flowing from the top of his head in a cascading stream and Lake Manasarovar at his feet. Looking kindly upon a pair of doting deer with both his eyes as well as the third eye on his forehead, the god seems to espouse his doctrines in a teaching session. There is no apparent conflict when in the rolling green plateau in the centre of the picture, Shiva hunts the deer for sport. He is after all the god of destruction as well as the giver of supreme wisdom. On the right, Shiva is seated much more comfortably under the shade of a tree, leaning against a large red velvet cushion placed on a striped carpet to create an outdoor throne for the deity. Though his feet are crossed over in a meditation position, his upper body and inclined head
exude an air of relaxation as he turns indolently and affectionately towards his consort, the goddess Parvati, who demonstrates in her rigid stance of obeisance her serious quest for the divine knowledge that only her husband can impart. Ranks of devotees are seated at the feet of the gods, also eager to gain transcendence through Shiva’s wisdom. In the lower right corner, the arrival of Brahma on Mount Kailash shows that even the other gods consult Shiva. This painting is a good example in terms of both style and subject of the kind of work being done by the Jodhpur court artists of Maharaja Man Singh (reigned 1803-1843) during the third decade of the nineteenth century. Although Man Singh was primarily a devotee of the Naths, he also commissioned several illustrated sets of major Hindu works such as the Ramayana and other religious texts such as the Durga Charitra and the Shiva Rahasya.1 These series are very large in scale in terms of both paper sheet size as well as the number of folios.2 Our small painting relates closely to the great Shiva Rahasya manuscript in the royal collection at Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, dated samvat 1884/1827 AD, which consists of 101 large format folios. The text of the Shiva Rahasya is based on the Himvat Khanda, part of the Skanda Purana, and as its name implies, tells of the exploits of Shiva.3 Rahasya means secret, so the manuscript title may be translated as “The secret teaching of Shiva”. In the Shiva Rahasya paintings at Mehrangarh Fort, Shiva’s knowledge is imparted by cosmic revelations to Parvati, devotees and hence the viewer. The stylised rocks and foliage are unique to Jodhpur painting in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century and their depiction reflects the luxuriant nature of the home of the gods. Folio 13 from the Mehrangarh Fort series, “Shiva Reveals the Geography of the Three Worlds to Parvati”, is a
splendid painting in which Shiva describes the boundaries, mountains and rivers of the three worlds. This is published in Deborah Diamond, Catherine Glynn and Karni Singh Jasol, Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur, 2008, pp. 238239, cat. no. 54. According to Debra Diamond, Shiva reveals to Parvati a cartography of the world in which the salient aspects of location are sacred mountains, Shiva shrines and Shiva worship. In this and other paintings of the series, Man Singh’s artists revel in creating varied rock formations that range from stubby pink knobs and icy lappets to candy coloured boulders in order to visualise the lofty sites where divine beings make themselves visible.4 Catherine Glynn has kindly observed that in addition to the large series in the royal collection, many smaller paintings of the same subjects and in a similar style were made to commission in any size on demand, and for pilgrims to take home as souvenirs of their spiritual quest.5 Our little painting is easily transportable and offers an image of Shiva ideal for private devotion and meditation.
Provenance: The Collection of Evelyn and Peter Kraus Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Catherine Glynn for her expert advice. References: 1. Rosemary Crill, Marwar Painting: A History of the Jodhpur Style, 1999, pp. 152-153. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Diamond, Glynn and Jasol, 2008, p. 238. 5. Personal communication with Catherine Glynn.
66 M A H A R A J A TA K H AT S I N G H H U N T I N G T I G E R S India (Jodhpur), 1860-1870 Height: 35 cm Width: 41.7 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. Inscribed in devanagari on the surface of the painting with identifications of the maharaja and two of his courtiers that accompany him on the hunting expedition. In the dramatic setting of a hilly landscape, stretching expansively from rocky outcrops dotted with shrubs and low-lying trees in the foreground to a city on the horizon in the far distance, the nimbate Maharaja Takhat Singh of Jodhpur (reigned 1843-1873) takes aim with a flintlock rifle at a crouching tiger from atop an elephant. He is seated in a gold howdah, his elephant driven by a mahout bearing an ankus (elephant goad) and a chowrie (flywhisk). Riding on elephants alongside the maharaja are his two hunting companions, the imposing figure of Dasmat Singh who dominates the picture, silhouetted majestically against the green hill rising towards the top of the composition, and Kisor Singh to the lower right, who aims his rifle in parallel to that of Takhat Singh. Kisor Singh’s mahout carries a pistol with one hand while tapping his elephant with the blades of the ankus with the other. Dasmat Singh, with lowered gun, awaits his turn. Though all three elephants are grandly caparisoned and ceremonially painted with swirling whorls on their trunks and faces, only the maharaja rides a howdah. His courtiers ride on saddles covered with red and vermillion saddlecloths. They are watched from the middle distance by troops of infantry, cavalry
and three more elephants who form an impressive guard.
Maharaja of Jodhpur from 1843 until his death in 1873.
The tiger at which Takhat Singh shoots is partially obscured by a bush as it tries to hide from the maharaja’s line of sight. A second tiger, also partly hidden by craggy rocks, tall grasses and a short tree, turns towards the hunters, roaring fiercely. A stream trickles into the foreground.
According to Rosemary Crill, Takhat Singh’s leisure activities are documented by many of the same painters that previously worked for Man Singh, such as Shiv Das and Bulaki. The seamless continuity over the two reigns makes it difficult in distinguishing the two rulers with their similar beards and features, but Crill notes that Takhat Singh can often be recognised by his sharper profile and the upturned moustache that he sports in his middle years. In her book, Marwar Painting: A History of the Jodhpur Style, 1999, pp. 168-173, figs. 139-145, Crill illustrates several paintings from the 1850s made for Takhat Singh in the Man Singh style.
Takhat Singh was brought from Ahmadnagar in Idar state to take the throne of Jodhpur when Maharaja Man Singh died in 1843 with no direct heir. He was born in Ahmadnagar in 1819, the second son of Karan Singh and the grandson of Sangram Singh, who founded a separate branch of the Idar dynasty to become the first maharaja of Ahmadnagar when it was divided from the larger state of Idar in 1792. Sangram Singh’s grandfather Anand Singh was the second son of Maharaja Ajit Singh of Jodhpur, so the rulers of Idar and Ahmadnagar were close relations of the Rathor clan of Marwar. As the second son of Karan Singh, Takhat Singh had little initial prospect of ascending the gaddi, yet after the death of his brother Prithvi Singh in 1839, he became the regent and served as such until the birth in 1840 of his brother’s son Balwant Singh, who was proclaimed the infant ruler. Takhat Singh then ruled as the baby’s regent until his nephew passed away on 23rd September 1841 when he finally became the ruler of Ahmadnagar. However, two years into his rule, Man Singh of Jodhpur passed away and as the result of an agreement with the British, Takhat Singh became the Maharaja of Jodhpur but only after ceding Ahmadnagar back to Idar state. Takhat Singh was thus the last Maharaja of Ahmadnagar for a short period of 1841-1843 and the
Crill observes that towards the end of Takhat Singh’s reign, painting became influenced and eventually eclipsed by the art of photography, which had recently been introduced by amateur but able photographers such as Eugene Impey who brought his camera equipment to Jodhpur. On p. 176, fig. 164, Crill illustrates a portrait painting of circa 1860-1865 that is clearly based on a portrait photograph. Instead of the conventional side profile used in ruler portraits, this depicts Takhat Singh staring candidly at the viewer full face with his distinctive and dramatic moustache. The present work is transitional in style and displays an adventurous mix of traditions. The influence of photography is seen in the deep recession into space for the vast landscape and the three-quarter profile used for some of the courtiers, in particular Dasmat Singh whose facial features and posture are portrayed with great naturalism. Takhat Singh is still depicted in strict side profile and framed by a nimbus.
67 GOOSANDER India (Lucknow), circa 1810 Height: 38 cm Width: 55 cm
Pencil, pen, ink and watercolour, heightened with bodycolour and gum Arabic on English paper. This painting depicts a Goosander or Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) standing in a landscape with diminutive trees and the zig zag shore of a lake to the right. This bird has two recognised names besides its scientific one. In America and in India it is known as a Common Merganser, while in the rest of the world it is called a Goosander. Goosanders are actually one of several Merganser species distributed right across the world. They are ducks, but very unusual and highly specialised fish-eating ducks. Goosanders belong to a group of ducks known as sawbills, and it is immediately evident why. Instead of having the
flattened, spatula-shaped bill typical of ducks, theirs is tapered, with both edges adorned with tooth-like, backward-pointing serrations like a saw blade. And, just like a saw blade, they are pointed in this direction to resist backward movement - in this case to avoid slippery fish from escaping their grasp. In fact these are not teeth at all. The serrations are in the leathery bill covering only; the underlying bone is quite smooth. Neither are serrations unique to sawbills. All ducks and geese have serrated bill edges, and in all of them they are adapted and refined to suit a different method of feeding. Most ducks use them to filter out fine food particles from the water, while geese use them for feeding on grass and other vegetation on land. Goosanders use them for grasping fish, so in their case, along with other Mergansers, they are very well developed indeed. Another remarkable fact about the bill of all the Mergansers is that they are capable of opening a very long way. Mammals can only articulate their lower jaw, while
birds can - by means of the pushing action of lots of tiny bones against a flexible part of their bill - lift a portion of their upper mandible too. Fish-eating birds have taken advantage of this to enable them to seize even the largest prey. The bird in this painting is a female and, although striking, she is not a patch on the stunningly handsome male with his deep emerald-green head, black shoulders and sparkling white underparts tinged with salmon pink. This delicate pink is not from pigmented feathers however, but is obtained from carotenoids in their diet, just like the pink colour of Flamingos. As in many duck species, his markings are shown to best effect when he is engaged in elaborate courtship displays, pointing his red bill vertically skywards. Goosanders, unlike most ducks, nest high above the ground in hollow trees or other enclosed cavities. But ducklings need to forage for their own food, so just one or two days after hatching they leap from the safety of their nest hole to the ground (it often takes a bit of encouragement from the mother) and follow the female to water. Under her watchful eye they are able to feed themselves on tiny aquatic
insects before graduating on to fish at around twelve days old. The artist has accentuated the size of the birdâ€™s legs in this painting. Nevertheless, Goosanders do need strong legs to propel them through the water and to clamber into their nest holes. Some diving birds, like Divers and Grebes, have gone in for a totally aquatic existence which has enabled their legs to be positioned far back on the body where they act like an outboard motor. However, the need to perch on trees and rocks calls for a compromise, so birds like Goosanders and Cormorants have their legs somewhat further forwards. Although they are unrelated, Goosanders are actually very alike in structure to Cormorants which share a similar lifestyle; they share the pointed bill and broad neck for catching and swallowing fish; both swim very low on the surface of the water and have a rather long and rounded tail which acts as a rudder during prolonged underwater hunting dives. A perfect example of convergent evolution!
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Katrina van Grouw for her expert advice and kind preparation of this catalogue entry.
68 KRISHNA IN HIS UNIVERSAL FORM India (Rajasthan), late 18th/early 19th century Length: 158 cm Width: 101 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on cotton, with Sanskrit inscriptions identifying the scenes depicted. This magnificent, complex and intricately detailed cloth painting depicts the climactic moment when Krishna reveals his true cosmic form (Vishvarupa) of the great god Vishnu to the Pandava warrior, Arjuna, son of Indra, the third of the Pandava princes and the chief hero of the Mahabharata.1 The revelation of Vishnu’s universal form takes place on the eve of the battle of Kurukshetra, a very bloody war between the Pandavas and their cousins the Kauravas. Its context is the Bhagavad Gita (The Song of the Lord), one of the most influential scriptures in Hinduism, as it spells out many key
concepts including the development of a strong personal relationship with God.2 Embedded in the sixth book (Bhishmaparvan) of the Mahabharata, the Bhagavad Gita takes the form of a conversation or dialogue (samvada) between the despondent Arjuna and Krishna, who is his charioteer.3 According to Laurie Patton in her Introduction to the Penguin translation of the Bhagavad Gita, the Gita is above all about a decision, a decision to go to war. Arjuna ponders the identity of his enemies, and his ties with them.4 “With whom must I fight?” he asks Krishna. When Arjuna grasps the heartbreaking fact that his enemies are his uncles, teachers and cousins, the decision he faces renders him speechless and broken.5 Krishna’s response takes the form of eighteen discourses during which Arjuna moves from appreciating the sagacity of Krishna’s advice to realising that his charioteer is not just a friend helping him in a time of crisis, but a manifestation of God himself.6 The Vishvarupa (“encompassing all forms”) takes place in the Eleventh Discourse, cantos 5-49.
In her illuminating analysis of a similar cloth painting exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum and published in the catalogue by Joan Cummins, Vishnu: Hinduism’s Blue-Skinned Savior, 2011, cat. no. 133, image on p. 220 and description on 218 and 221, Cummins observes that like the epic Mahabharata in which it appears, the Bhagavad Gita is rarely illustrated by painters or sculptors. Its impact and appeal are primarily conceptual and verbal, rather than narrative and visual. However, a special part of the Bhagavad Gita offers a compelling challenge to artists, the moment halfway through their discussion when Arjuna asks Krishna to reveal his true form. This Krishna does, but only after giving Arjuna special sight or the divine eye through his powerful yoga. Krishna says: “Son of Pritha, See my divine forms, a hundred, a thousand kindsall different, all divine, and in many colours and shapes…7 “...It was a multiform, wondrous vision, With countless mouths and eyes And celestial ornament, Brandishing many divine weapons...
“If the light of a thousand suns Were to rise in the sky at once, It would be like the light of that great spirit. “Arjuna saw all the universe In its many ways and parts, Standing as one in the body of the god of gods.”8 Cummins notes that the great body revealed is inherently beyond the comprehension of mere mortals, yet artists have long attempted to capture some sense of it through the most complex, most multiple figures.9 The artist of the present temple cloth has risen superbly to the challenge, while the many inscriptions and iconographic signposts help us to chart a path through the dense imagery of the landscape. Inscribed to the top of the uppermost ovoid cartouche is Gokula loka (the world of Gokula, the cow world of Brindaban) encircled by golden walls. Krishna as Gokulachandramaji, the Moon of Gokula, is seen playing the flute and dancing the Rasamandala with the gopis in the eternal Brindaban.10 To the left is another image of Krishna as Mathureshji with further images of Krishna and princes in attendance. On either side are Ganesh, Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma with their consorts in heavenly vimanas (vehicles), flying through the celestial ether of Vishnu’s paradise, Vaikuntha.11 Next come four large standing figures representing the four Vedas (sacred texts). These are Rig and Atharva on the left and Sama and Yajur on the right, all represented with boars’ heads. Below is the world of Rama’s heaven, Ramavaikuntha, depicted with Rama and Sita in a pavilion adorned by eight male and two female attendants. On either side is a temple on a mountaintop with Shiva and Parvati on the right on Mount Kailasha. In the temple on the left is the tiny figure of Krishna as Dvarkadhishji, a black stone
icon that like Gokulachandramaji and Mathureshji now resides at Nathdvara, recognisable by his billowing red sashes.12 The two diagrammatic lotuses on the sides of the golden temples, and the two diagrams comprising rectangles adjoining the points of triangles flanking Vishnu’s great body, are yantras, geometric instruments with mystical powers containing symbols employed as tools in meditation. Inscriptions on either side refer to the various layers of the world (the fourteen lokas, seven above and seven below) as described in the Puranas (ancient texts), as well as the earlier concept of the three worlds, Bhuh, Bhuvah and Svah (sky, earth and underworld). The painting is dominated by the large cartouche of Krishna as the seven-headed Vishnu Vishvarupa, encompassing the whole of creation. Brahmaloka is his crown and the rest of the heavens comprise his head and chest. The earth is his belly with Krishna and the gopis. His legs represent the underworld. The earth is separated from the other six continents
by an ocean of salt water. Seas of other substances, such as sugarcane juice, wine and clarified butter, separate each island-continent from the next. A large expanse of fresh water divides the seventh continent from the “world-no-world”, the darkness that stretches beyond. Vishnu wears the seven seas (sapta samudra) as a girdle around his waist. The fourteen lokas are represented in descending order. These are Satya-loka, Tapa-loka, Jana-loka, Mahar-loka, Svar-loka, Bhuvar-loka, Bhu-loka, Atala-loka, Vitala-loka, Sutala-loka, Talatala-loka, Mahatalaloka, Rasatala-loka and Patala-loka.
inscription, Pandava-sena. Arjuna’s chariot is driven by the blue-skinned Krishna who can be seen expounding his discourses. On the right, a similar inscription, Kaurava-sena, informs us that it is the Kaurava armies we see there, led by Kaurava princes in chariots. The elephants in the lower spandrels and the crocodiles or makaras on the sides may represent the animal kingdom that co-exits within the realms of men and gods.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Jerry Losty and Anna Dallapiccola for their expert advice and kind reading of the inscriptions. We would also like to thank Joan Cummins for kindly allowing us to use her interpretation to unlock the meanings of our cloth painting. References: 1. Anna L. Dallapiccola, Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend, 2002, p. 28. 2. Joan Cummins, Vishnu: Hinduism’s Blue-Skinned Savior, 2011, pp. 218 and 221.
Another cloth painting on the same theme was exhibited at the Hayward Gallery in London and published in Philip S. Rawson, Tantra: The Indian Cult of Ecstasy, 1973, pl. 48.
3. Dallapiccola, 2002, pp. 37 and 126. 4. Laurie L. Patton (trans.), The Bhagavad Gita, 2008, p. vi. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid. 7. Canto 5 of the Eleventh Discourse
Dwarfed by the gigantic figure of Vishnu, the tiny figures of the warring armies gather on the battlefields. On the left is an
quoted here is from Patton, 2008, p. 124. 8. Cantos 10, 12 and 13 are quoted from
Provenance: Private European Collection Private West Coast Collection, USA
the translation by Barbara Stoller Miller, The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna’s Counsel in Time of War, 1988, pp. 98-99. 9. Cummins, 2011, p. 218. 10. See Amit Ambalal, Krishna as Shrinathji: Rajasthani Paintings from Nathdvara, 1987, p. 58. 11. See similar space ships with deities in Madhuvanti Ghose (ed.), Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings, 2015, pp. 118-119. 12. Ambalal, 1987, p. 56.
69 S I L K R O B E A N D F E AT H E R E D H AT Central Asia, 11th/12th century Length from collar to base: 127 cm Width of arm span: 154 cm Height of hat and feathers: 36 cm
A magnificent silk lampas robe and feathered hat, the robe with a flaring skirt and fur collar, the open front fastening to the left, the long tapering sleeves edged with fur cuffs. The elegant overall design which continues on the reverse and on the sleeves is woven in yellow, blue, green and white on an earthy red ground. The design consists of a matrix of repeating roundels, each roundel composed of a central geometric quatrefoil within a frame of undulating vines from which sprout alternating green and white lotus flowers spaced by leaves. The interstices between the roundels are filled with ogival motifs with central quatrefoil flowers surrounded by eight further lotus flowers, accompanied by delicate buds and leaves. The hat is composed of felt and constructed with two fur-lined, upturned flaps connected by the fur brim, the exterior covered with an opulent pink, green and brown silk lining, the whole surmounted by a spotted leopard fur protrusion topped with a dramatic aigrette of red feathers. The robe has been carbon dated by samples from the silk taken at the base of the robe, the fur taken from the collar and textile threads taken from the lining of the hat. The results from the RCD Radio Carbon Dating laboratory in Oxfordshire, with the samples producing a range of
dates between the late tenth to mid twelfth centuries, are consistent with, and confirm, the stylistic dating of eleventh to twelfth century that we have proposed: C14 Results from RCD Radio Carbon Dating, Oxon: 1002 years old +/- 29 years 981 AD - 1051 AD @ 95.4 % probability The robe is in overall good condition, with wear and discoloration along the back and areas under the sleeves, the fur being worn and partly missing to the top of the collar, consistent with its age. The hat is in good condition, with an area of staining to the interior, some wear to the fur, and the feathers are possibly later replacements. Textiles, due to their portability, were particularly conducive to trade and exchange, and played an important role in the dissemination of artistic motifs. Strategically located along the main trade routes between China, Byzantium and Persia, Sogdiana represented the centre for the commerce of silk textiles from diverse regions, and particularly between China and Persia. The local Sogdian silk production that flourished from the seventh to the eleventh centuries is characterised by a diverse range of artistic and geographical influences. This coat and its extravagant hat are indicative of this fusion, and it is interesting to look at the inspirations behind their design. Whereas historical accounts record the presence of Chinese craftsmen in Bukhara as early as the eighth century, it has also been noted that there was an increase of Sogdian
populations in north-western China during this period. Each medallion on the present coat is surrounded by a frame composed of a curvilinear stem with lotus buds and leaves. These recall the floral medallions on a silk textile fragment from the Tang Dynasty dating to the late eighth or early ninth century now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no. 1996.103.1). This silk fragment is illustrated in the Metropolitan Museum exhibition catalogue by James C. Y. Watt and Anne E. Wardwell, When Silk was Gold: Central Asian and Chinese Textiles, 1997, pp. 38-39, cat. no. 6. The geometricised aspects of the design on the present robe are similar to that on a textile fragment now in the Cleveland Museum of Art (inv. no. 1950.514), attributed to Central Asia, seventh-ninth century, which is woven with a row of aligned roundels with concentric diamonds filling the interstices. This is also illustrated by Watt and Wardwell on p. 33, cat. no. 4. Interestingly, this type of motif and its geometric arrangement has been associated with Sasanian iconographic conventions. As noted by Yuka Kadoi in Islamic Chinoiserie: The Art of Mongol Iran, 2009, p.16, â€œThe impact of Sasanian textiles is particularly reflected in the fashion for roundel motifs so deeply integrated into Tang textile designâ€?. Characterised by a rich and broad cross-cultural mix, germinated at the crossroads of China and Iran, this robe and hat play an important part in our understanding of a civilisation influenced by a nomadic culture in which wealth had to be transportable, thus according a huge importance to portable goods such as textiles.
70 GEOMETRIC JALI India (Mughal), 17th century Height: 158 cm Width: 93 cm Depth: 3.3 cm
A double-sided rectangular yellow sandstone jali screen, with a central carved lattice design of interlocking cartouches, surrounded by first a plain border and then a further lattice design and outer border, almost creating a jali within a jali. The lattice carving has a single fluted incision, adding depth and texture to the panel, with the design depicting repeated interlinked hexagonal motifs which have been stretched on opposing sides, either vertically or horizontally to create a bewildering geometric pattern. The complex design is contrasted by the thick plain border surrounding it with incised grooves to its inner and outer edges. This in turn gives way to a similar lattice framing the â€œinnerâ€? jali screen, only this time, the hexagons have been flattened either vertically or horizontally, providing both a contrast and a connection with the inner lattice. Geometric designs in jalis such as the above are made up of patterns of permutations of simple components; notably polygons and stars, but the seemingly never-ending range of patterns can in fact be reduced to inventive manipulations of these few shapes. These Mughal patterns were common throughout the Islamic world, but can be distinguished through the expression and personality of the Mughal stonemasons and artisans.1
Reference: 1. George Michell, The Majesty of Mughal Decoration: The Art and Architecture of Islamic India, 2007, pp. 69-70.
71 L I L I E S A N D C LO U D B A N D S India (Mughal, Delhi or Agra), late 17th/early 18th century
in composition, with the clouds resembling leaves and their curling tips taking the form of tendrils or buds.
Height: 111 cm Width: 71.5 cm Depth: 4.7 cm
To either side of the main stem are three further pairs of lily sprays with small cusped teardrop leaves. The top pair of lilies is smaller, with just opening flowers that have yet to grow as much as the other lilies. This imparts to the screens an added sense of naturalism as the flowers seem to grow before our very eyes. A chamfered and rounded cusped arch with floral terminals to each side and to the top contains the inner lily design, outside of which are rosette sprays and scrolling leafy tendrils that coil into lyre forms to frame five-petalled flowers in each spandrel.
Height: 110.5 cm Width: 73 cm Depth: 4.5 cm Height: 122 cm Width: 71 cm Depth: 4.8 cm
These three elegant red sandstone architectural panels are each finely carved in relief with a slightly asymmetrical design of a large central lily spray contained within a cusped border of mihrab arch form. Floral sprays and stylised rosettes decorate the spandrels, with the main field surrounded to each edge of the panel by a thick plain border.
It is possible that these panels made up a much larger architectural frieze, perhaps interspersed within a chini kana (china room) where panels were carved as wall niches in which were placed bottles and vases as well as floral sprays such as seen here.
From the bottom of the cusped arch emerges a lily from a delicate mound of two leaves, its central stem rising straight up and terminating in a large single flower with five petals and three central stamens scrolling slightly at the ends. Chinoiserie cloud bands waft by to flank the central lily, borne aloft by a gentle breeze. George Michell has observed that while cloud bands do occasionally occur on carved marble floral panels, their appearance on sandstone panels is very unusual.1 In keeping with the floral theme of the carving, the present cloud bands are foliate
The motif of a single flower set against a plain background is quintessentially Mughal and is found in many media other than sculpture: paintings, including the borders of albums, textiles, carpets and stone. Conventionally, as here, only one plant type is represented on a single panel. However these naturalistic plant forms soon became hybrid versions and increasingly fanciful, one reason being that they became decorative elements of the architecture.
The naturalism of the panels, the free-flowing petals and leaves, and the softening of the symmetry betray a date somewhere towards the end of the seventeenth or beginning of the eighteenth century. The Delhi-Agra region is the most likely area of production as the red mottled sandstone is typical of that locality.2
still considerable finesse of carving. While differing in design, the carving on the panels also compares in spirit with the naturalism of the flowers in the jali screen in the Mosque of Ghazi al-din Khan in Shahjahanabad, the old walled city within Delhi, illustrated in George Michell and Amit Pasricha, Mughal Architecture & Gardens, 2011, p. 111.
The carved red sandstone panels at the mosque adjacent to the Taj Mahal, which depict naturalistic plants that combine identifiable and hybrid species in relaxed symmetry, may be the inspiration for our panels. Details of panels from the mosque are illustrated in George Michell, The Majesty of Mughal Decoration: The Art and Architecture of Islamic India, 2007, pp. 170-171 and on the front of the dust jacket. Though the delicacy of the carving at the Taj Mahal is incomparable, our later panels combine a more robust charm with
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank George Michell for his expert advice. References: 1. Personal communication with George Michell. Cloud bands on a carved marble panel beneath wall niches in the Shah Burj in Agraâ€™s Red Fort are illustrated in George Michell and Amit Pasricha, Mughal Architecture & Gardens, 2011, p. 2. 2. Personal communication with George Michell.
72 ROSETTES AND RHOMBOIDS India (Bikaner), 18th century Height: 40 cm Width: 67 cm Depth: 4 cm
A carved and pierced double-sided marble jali screen with a finely carved central pattern of six-petalled rosettes and rhomboids within a thick plain border. The unusual design has vertical rows of rosettes within hexagons, each rosette with six thinly carved petals and a plain central bud. These floral strips alternate with rhomboids that fall vertically and diagonally from both sides, creating an intricate lattice pattern. The rhomboids have fluted edges, which create a greater feeling of weight and depth to the pattern. The central design is recessed within the chamfered edges of the thick plain surround, helping to draw the eye into the centre of the pattern. The top of the screen has a further curved chamfered edge. This openwork panel is in the style of those found on royal monuments of the Mughal emperors in India, especially those in the city of Fatehpur Sikri that the emperor Akbar built between 1571-1585 near Agra. The pierced screens known as jalis were used to great visual effect in Mughal architecture, providing privacy and shade from sunlight while allowing for the passage of cool air. In the course of the day, the movement of their patterns in silhouette across the floor would enhance the pleasure of the geometric and often complicated intricate designs.
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Published by Simon Ray First published November 2016 Design by Peter Keenan Photography by Alan Tabor Richard Valencia Repro by Richard Harris
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