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Miniatures & Manuscripts Miniatures & Manuscripts BASHOHLI SCHOOL
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A SET OF THREE PAINTINGS, 20th century, with Matsya Avatar and Rasmanjari based on a Vaishnavite theme and a Tantric Devi from the Tantric series:
a) Matsya Avatar – Vishnu, incarnated as the fish in Matsya Avatar, killed the demon Shankhasura, who snatched the 4 Vedas from Brahma (creator of the universe) and hid in the ocean. The painting shows Vishnu in human form gently rescuing the vedas from the stomach of the demon. In gratitude, the vedas stand in reverence to Vishnu
b) Rasmanjari - Vishnu incarnated as Krishna comes to meet his amour Radha in a forest. The flora and fauna has been depicted in Bashohli style. The blooming lotus and the pair of birds further express the love between Krishna and Radha
c) Tantric Devi - the blue skin Devi Bhadrakali, seen drinking liquor, is the main deity of this composition and to her left is Bhairavi with snakes wrapped around her arms, neck and in her coiffure. Devi is attended by Dakini and Shakini, who stand behind her
Ornaments and textiles, including the eyes of the Asura are richly decorated with beetle wings.
gouache on paper
Bashohli, a small state near Jammu, was the cradle of Pahari style of painting that started under the patronage of Raja Kirpal Pal (1678 - 1693). The earliest Bashohli paintings date around 1685 AD, in a style that was an amalgamation of existing local styles of painting with the great Mughal style that had begun to disseminate from the centralised kaarkhanas (workshops) after Aurangzeb’s rule. The resultant new idiom was one full of vitality and vigour. The miniatures were commissioned by the nobility and depicted themes of the manifest Devi, ragmala, and the dalliances of Krishna with his beloved Radha. It was this style that later matured into the lyrical ‘Kangra Style’ of miniatures. Today, Bashohli miniature paintings are a rarity and only exist in select Indian and international museums, and a few private collections.
The uniqueness of this lot lies in the now lost tradition of using the wings of the beetle insect, a convention that went out of practice by late 18th century. These lustrous embellishments, carefully cut to size, were used to decorate garments, jewellery and even the eyes of demons in the paintings, in place of gems. The paper is hand-made and painted with real gold and silver .The colours used are ground from stone and minerals.