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Volume 50 Number 1, September 1998

Volume 50 Number 1

Pahari Painters

From the General Editor’s Desk

Nikka and Ranjha at the Court of Raj Singh of Chamba
Vishwa Chander Ohri

Harkhu and Chhajju: Two Guler Artists at Chamba
Jagdish Mittal

Gursahai: A Guler Painter at Basohli
Suwarcha Paul

Chaitu at Tehri Garhwal
Usha Bhatia

The Guler Painter Fattu at Mandi
Vijay Sharma

The Bohrawads of Sidhpur
Zoyab A. Kadi

Renovated Textile Gallery at the National Museum, New Delhi
Anamika Pathak

Newsletters

Book Reviews

From the General Editor's Desk
Pal, Pratapaditya
Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998, pp. 8–9

Reviewing the passing of 1997, the year marking 50 years of Indian independence, the general editor notes that there was little effort, either on the part of the government in Delhi or the private sector, to hold innovative cultural programmes involving the entire country and thus contributing to "national integration". Two praiseworthy efforts he mentions are an exhibition reviewing the history of contemporary art since independence and a series of documentary films on the artistic heritage of India, produced by Marg.

Nikka and Ranjha at the Court of Raj Singh of Chamba
Ohri, Vishwa Chander
Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998, pp. 10–26 [Also in Painters of the Pahari Schools edited by Vishwa Chander Ohri and Roy C. Craven, Jr; Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998; ISBN: 81-85026-41-6, pp. 98–114]

Nikka and Ranjha, sons of the Guler painter Nainsukh, worked in a similar style. Here, the author studies the idioms and traits peculiar to their paintings along with the evidence and records connecting these with Chamba, asserting both painters had worked for Raja Raj Singh of Chamba. While the geometric layout of gardens or other settings lends a dynamism to Ranjha's works, Nikka's compositions are organized asymmetrically, creating a feeling of movement. Living apart for some years in their formative periods, the brothers learned the family art of miniature painting from different masters.

Harkhu and Chhajju: Two Guler Artists at Chamba
Mittal, Jagdish
Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998, pp. 27–42 [Also in Painters of the Pahari Schools edited by Vishwa Chander Ohri and Roy C. Craven, Jr; Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998; ISBN: 81-85026-41-6; pp. 115–130]

Paintings by Harkhu and Chhajju, the grandsons of Nainsukh, show the best facets of the final Guler-Kangra style. In 1961 the author collected a remarkable group of 10 miniatures from the Khajanchi family of Chamba, 2 of which were attributed to Harkhu and Chhajju respectively. Here, he examines the contribution of these 2 painters to the history of painting at Chamba and at other locales where they worked. He also separates the paintings of each from among other stylistically related works on the basis of their personal idioms. Most of the observations are confined to a study of the salient stylistic peculiarities and other notable facts about Harkhu and his younger brother.

Gursahai: A Guler Painter at Basohli
Paul, Suwarcha
Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998, pp. 43–52 [Also in Painters of the Pahari Schools edited by Vishwa Chander Ohri and Roy C. Craven, Jr; Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998; ISBN: 81-85026-41-6, pp. 131–140]

The period during which Gursahai, Nainsukh's grandson, was active as a painter in the late 18th-early 19th century coincided with a crucial time when major political changes occurred at the Basohli court which directly affected Pahari painting. A study of Gursahai's work, therefore, has unique importance in some respects in the history of Pahari painting. This artist has consistently formally acknowledged that his father Ranjha was his teacher, which fact is confirmed by the distinct style and idioms seen in his paintings. Though Gursahai's work could not attain the quality which characterizes the oeuvre of his father, the difference in workmanship in their paintings is not so wide.

Chaitu at Tehri Garhwal
Bhatia, Usha
Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998, pp. 53–60 [Also in Painters of the Pahari Schools edited by Vishwa Chander Ohri and Roy C. Craven, Jr; Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998; ISBN: 81-85026-41-6, pp. 141–148]

Although Chaitu worked in the distant atelier of Garhwal we can see in his paintings, even with their stylistic affinities to the Kangra/Guler kalam, that he was yet another artist who continued to actively paint in the family idiom of Pandit Seu and Manaku. While a host of scholars, (including N.C. Mehta who identified Chaitu in 1926 as an active artist in Tehri Garhwal during the reign of Sudarshan Shah) have discussed Chaitu's style and dates, it is B.N. Goswamy's important research published in Marg in the 1960s, which has brought to light genealogical records and information on painters from different Pahari families.

The Guler Painter Fattu at Mandi
Sharma, Vijay
Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998, pp. 61–65

The elder of the two sons of the celebrated Guler painter Manaku, Fattu worked for a phase at Mandi at a time when several new idioms obviously derived from Guler painting appeared in this article compare 2 portraits ascribed to him and concludes that his best creative period, commenced in the 1770's, have works produced at this centre.

The Bohrawads of Sidhpur
Kadi, Zoyab A.
Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998, pp. 66–68

The beautiful heritage homes of the Bohra trading community in Sidhpur town in Gujarat are described. Invoking a powerful and unforgettable imagery, the interiors of these homes, too, provide a visual treat. The once lively mohallas made up of these buildings are now largely deserted. After a period of about 90 years since their building, the houses of Sidhpur are under potential threat from a series of intangible forces, which include the complexity of vexatious ownership rights.

Renovated Textile Gallery at the National Museum, New Delhi
Pathak, Anamika
Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998, pp. 69–71

The writer describes the expanded collection of the permanent textile gallery of the National Museum, New Delhi, on re-opening to the public following its closure for renovation in 1992. It is made up of pieces acquired over the years ever since it opened in 1947. A few showcases have been arranged thematically to give a picture of aristocratic life in the 18th-19th century. This collection holds, apart from textiles, a few decorative art items in wood, bamboo, and lac. Metalwork examples from different parts of the country are also exhibited.

Newsletters
Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998, pp. 72–79

Monisha Ahmed reports from Mumbai on the exhibitions on to commemorate World Heritage Day; John Siudmak writes on the annual round of auction sales of Indian art in London.

Book Reviews
Vol. 50 No. 1, September 1998, pp. 80–92

The Topkapi Scroll - Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture by Gulru Necipoglu reviewed by Asok Kumar Das; Prehistory of Chitrakot Falls, Central India by Zarine Cooper reviewed by Shereen Ratnagar; Resorts of the Raj - Hill Stations of India by Vikram Bhatt reviewed by Pheroza Godrej; Past Forward: Six Artists in Search of their Childhood, as told to Gowri Ramnarayan reviewed by Gayatri Sinha; Architecture & Independence: The Search for Identity - India 1880 to 1980 by Jon Lang, Madhavi Desai, and Miki Desai reviewed by Himanshu Burte; a Write-up on India - Another Way of Life by Tzannis Tzannetakis, translated by Alexandra Doumas.