Traditional Rajasthani miniature painting
Among my favourite things are Indian miniature paintings - one of our most popular products at the moment. These are painted on old government paper complete with one, two or four anna stamps and often over handwritten script. We buy these from Mukesh, a fourth-generation painter, who sits and works in the traditional Rajasthani style in his small shop in the market street at Bundi, Rajasthan. He keeps his best work away from the shop window to prevent people photographing and copying his ideas.
One of my favourites is this one below depicting a beautiful green dress with gold embroidery on the bodice and red and silver tassels. I love the folds in the cloth and the very fine detail on the gold braid trim. The old legal paper features the Bundi coat of arms and the court fee of 1 anna.
This is a detail from another dress in lilac colour, also painted by Mukesh. It's only when you look very closely, with the aid of a magnifying glass, at the fineness of the brushwork, for example on the graduated green of the dress, that you truly appreciate the skill and patience in these paintings.
Indian miniature painting originated around 750 CE in the east of India by the Palas of Bengal and was introduced to western India around 960 CE. Here it was developed by various schools in Rajasthan – of which Bundi Jaipur is one - during the Mughal period. The earliest images portrayed religious themes, having been influenced by Buddhist text and images which were painted on palm leaves. These had to be small due to the size of the leaves.
Often the paintings would be commissioned and Rajasthani miniatures most often portrayed the lives of kings and queens and the story of Lord Krishna and Radha.
The paintings below depict Lord Krishna and Radha. Finely detailed and finished with gold leaf, the painting shows them reclining under a tree by a lake of lotuses, Krishna is stroking Radha's hair. Krishna is always blue, indicating all-inclusiveness, and believed to be the strong colour of his aura rather than his skin.
Radha and Krishna are popular lovers in the mythical legends of Indian Hinduism. Radha is a gopi, or shepherdess of the cows, but may be seen to represent the feminine side of Krishna.
In this painting they are reclining on a swing.
The reverse side of the paper has old pen script in Urdu. The paper is stamped with 'One anna' - a now obsolete low value form of Indian currency - which indicates its age.