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Volume 51 Number 3, March 2000

Volume 51 Number 3

Rajasthani Court Painting

From the General Editor’s Desk

Early Painting at Bundi
Joachim K. Bautze

The Saving Power of Soron: Sahibdin of Udaipur and the Sukarakshetra Mahatmya
Andrew Topsfield

Court Painting for the Amber Rulers, Circa 1590–1727
Asok Kumar Das

New Discoveries
1. Exposition of the Bijamandala Temple in Khajuraho

Phani Kanta Mishra

2. Significance of the New Find at Khajuraho: Gahapati Kokkala’s Vaidyanatha Temple?
Devangana Desai

The Splendours of Wood-Carving in Vaso Haveli, North Gujarat
V.S. Pramar

Portrait of Muktambal, Swordwife of Sarfoji II
Ramaa Narayanan

New Asian Galleries at the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena
Jyotindra Jain

Newsletters

Book Reviews

From the General Editor's Desk
Pal, Pratapaditya
Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000, pp. 10-11

The editor argues that the Indian Antiquities Registration Act of 1973, which made it mandatory to register all art objects over 100 years with a government agency, has failed in its purpose of stemming the flow of art abroad. All it has done, in his opinion, is to increase bureaucracy and encourage dishonest practices. What is required is a new policy, which will educate all Indians on the need to save our heritage and encourage dealers and collectors in India and help to keep at least some of the art in the country.

Early Painting at Bundi
Bautze, Joachim K.
Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000, pp. 12-25 [Also in Court Painting in Rajasthan edited by Andrew Topsfield; Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000; ISBN: 81-85026-47-5, pp. 12-25]

Painting at Bundi had its beginnings in the 15th century, when its style was close to the Western Indian style: The style was influenced by Mughal painting in the 16th century, but in course of time acquired more Rajput features, culminating in the early Bundi style in a ragamala of 36 paintings done in 1591 for Rao Bhoj Hara. The article also studies in detail the fresco in the Badal Mahal (circa 1620-30) as well as early 17th-century Bundi painting on paper with examples of ragamala and Bhagavata Purana paintings.

The Saving Power of Soron: Sahibdin of Udaipur and the Sukarakshetra Mahatmya
Topsfield, Andrew
Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000, pp. 26-40 [Also in Court Painting in Rajasthan edited by Andrew Topsfield; Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000; ISBN: 81-85026-47-5, pp. 26-40]

This article breaks new ground by being the first publication of the last known manuscript commission of Sahibdin, the most important Udaipur court artist of the 17th century. Dated in 1655, this commission was a series of 26 illustrations of the Sukarakshetra Mahatmya, a tirthamahatmya text (forming part of the Varaha Purana) which praises the sanctifying virtues of the pilgrimage town of Soron (now in UP), which Sahibdin's patron Maharana Raj Singh (r.1652--80) had visited a few years earlier. About half of Sahibdin's illustrations to the two main stories told in this text are reproduced and discussed. Both stories tell of birds or animals which die beside the Ganga at Soron and thus attain auspicious human rebirths, which again eventually lead them to return to Soron. This series of paintings, now in a Calcutta collection, is compared with the previous work from Sahibdin's long career (c.1628-55), and with the less inspired work of his later successors.

Court Painting for the Amber Rulers, Circa 1590-1727
Das, Asok Kumar
Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000, pp. 41-56 [Also in Court Painting in Rajasthan edited by Andrew Topsfield; Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000; ISBN: 81-85026-47-5, pp. 41-56]

Amber, a minor kingdom in northeastern Rajasthan ruled by the Kachhwaha Rajputs, became an important centre of art from the later years of the 16th century. Raja Man Singh (1589-1614) and Mirza Raja Jai Singh (1621-67) rose to high positions amongst the nobles in the Mughal court underAkbar and his successors. Their exposure to the splendid cultural and artistic achievement of the Mughals provided the right impetus for this development. Amber painters followed the Mughal court style in drawing formal portraits and court scenes, but continued their own native style in respect of manuscript illustration and wall paintings.

During the reign of Ram Singh I (1667-89), a stylistic integration began to develop between these. Mughal-trained painters, however, continued to work at Amber along with local artists. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh (1699-1743) was one of the most illustrious ruler in the line through whose committed patronage for art and architecture and other branches of knowledge Amber became one the most notable centres of Rajasthani painting. Many sets of ragamala and other poetical and devotional works were illustrated during his reign. He was like his predecessors an avid collector of manuscripts and paintings and choicest Mughal, Deccani, Malwa, and other paintings filled dozens of albums in his pothikhana. The planned city of Jaipur built by him in 1727 was turned into a great centre of art activity in the remaining years of his rule and afterwards.

New Discoveries: I. Exposition of the Bijamandala Temple in Khajuraho
Mishra, Phani Kanta
Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000, pp. 57-60

The writer, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Bhopal Circle, led the team excavating the Bijamandala mound at Khajuraho in 1999. The excavations uncovered a large temple with exquisite sculptures. The Bijamandala is the largest temple at Khajuraho and its sculptures raise many questions which only further excavations may answer.

New Discoveries: II. Significance of the New Find at Khajuraho: Gahapati Kokkala's Vaidyanatha Temple?
Desai, Devangana
Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000, pp. 61-66

The significance of the Bijamandala temple excavated at Khajuraho in 1999, discussed by Phani Kanta Mishra in the preceding article, is further analysed here. The writer raises many questions, and compares the sculptured mouldings of the plinth and sculptures of Sarasvati and Jain tirthankaras with those on other temples at Khajuraho. The Bijamandala mound is associated with Vaidyanatha, Shiva the healer. The writer discusses the possibility that this may be the lost Vaidyanatha temple built by Gahapati Kokkala, mentioned in an inscription on a slab dated 1001 CE which was discovered by Major General Cunningham in 1865 standing loose in the porch of the Vishvanatha temple at Khajuraho.

The Splendours of Wood-Carving in Vaso Haveli, North Gujarat
Pramar, V.S.
Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000, pp. 67-74

Wooden architecture was once common throughout north Gujarat and this provided an opportunity for a wealth of wood-carvings of the highest quality. Vaso Haveli described here, now a protected monument, is one of the finest of such wooden buildings. Besides describing the carvings, there is also an analysis of the urban settlement pattern and of the typical haveli plan, based upon the traditional rural row-house pattern designed for security.

Portrait of Muktambal, Swordwife of Sarfoji II
Narayanan, Rama
Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000, pp. 75-77

The article studies a portrait in the British Museum, London, probably of Muktambal the "swordwife" (a concubine given legitimacy through a marriage ritual called kadga vivaha) of Sarfoji II of Tanjavur . She concludes that the portrait was painted by an artist trained in the Mughal miniature tradition.

New Asian Galleries at the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena
Jain, Jyotindra
Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000, pp. 78-80

The writer records his impressions, during his visit to the museum in April 1999, of the galleries reorganized by the renowned architect Frank Gehry. With the new entrance foyer and the "mandala-like space" of the colonnaded Asian Galleries, the section is truly the combined masterwork of Frank Gehry, and Dr. Pratapaditya Pal who envisaged the new concept of display.

Newsletters
Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000, pp. 81-87
Monisha Ahmed reports on an exhibition of Marwar miniature paintings, the Vollard collection exhibition in Mumbai and New Delhi, a benefit event for INTACH's Elephanta project, the restoration of Rajabai Tower, and an exhibition on Jerusalem; John Siudmak provides an overview of the events of the Asian Art in London series, which focused on works from South Asia and the Himalayas; Donald M. Stadtner reports on an international symposium on the plight of Afghanistan's cultural property.
Book Reviews
Vol. 51 No. 3, March 2000, pp. 88-93

Hinduism and the Religious Arts by Heather Elgood, reviewed by Kavita Singh; The Playworld of Sanskrit Drama by Robert E. Goodwin, reviewed by I.S. Rajagopalan; Woven Cargoes: Indian Textiles in the East by John Guy, reviewed by Syamali Das; Changing Myths and Images: Twentieth-Century Popular Art in India compiled by Gerald James Larson, Pratapaditya Pal, and H. Daniel Smith, reviewed by Patricia Uberoi.