It is this fusion which appears in the new set of pictures. The Laur Chanda poem is in the Avadhi language, a variant of Persian, and is by Mulla Da'ud, a Muslim poet of the fourteenth century. Its story, the ballad of Lorik and Chandaini, however, is essentially Hindu. The Fifty-four Stanzas are by the Sanskrit poet, Bilhana, and are supposed to recall his rapturous encounters with his mistress, the lady Champavati. Both groups of illustration include poets Чthe former an aged figure squatting at the top of each picture, expounding lines in Muslim script; the latter, the poet-hero himself, ardently prosecuting his love. In the latter case, he wears a transparent four-pointed skirt Ч perhaps in origin a Malwa fashionЧand a turban tentatively connected with Malwa and Pathans. With caste-marks so prominent on his brow, he is technically Hindu, but his whole appearance has a Muslim aura. The remaining picture, the Ragini, is a reflection of Baz Bahadur's ruling hobby, music. It is little wonder, then, that subjects of this kind should have suddenly appeared in Malwa painting and it is possible that the poet-lover of the Fifty-four Stanzas and the Muslim love-poet of the Laur Chanda are both disguised representations of Baz Bahadur himself.
Such an interpretation has two merits. It offers a psychological explanation for what in any view must be regarded as one of the greatest styles in Indian painting; but following the tragic ending of the great romance in 1561, it helps us to understand the possible movement of Mandu artists and the course of later Malwa painting. We know that in 1561 Mandu was captured by a Mughal army, Rupmati committed suicide and Baz Bahadur fled. In 1570 he submitted, but although appointed a general in Akbar's army, never regained free status. In such conditions, the artists responsible for the great Mandu style must almost certainly have left the city or perished in the massacre which followed its occupation. Some may possibly have made their way across the hills to Chawand, in Mewar, where they executed first a version of the Sanskrit love-poem, the Gita Govinda1 in about the year 1580, and later a ragini series dated 1605. Such pictures are not only clear derivatives from the great Mandu style, but foreshadow the outburst of Rajasthani painting in Mewar some decades later. Several Mandu artists on the other hand may have quietly retired to their villages, there to practise a modified version of the grand manner. Whatever these developments may have been, however, painting must certainly have continued for when we come to the seventeenth century, at least three separate types are evident, all connected in various ways with earlier manners.
The first is an obvious continuation of the great Mandu style. The earliest surviving examples illustrate the love-poetry of music, and we can see in this choice of subject how permanent a revolution had been effected. The figures no longer possess square-shaped heads, sharp noses and jutting contours, but colour is used with romantic ardour, faces retain the same keen air of vehement resolve and trees in particular have the early schematic richness apparent in the Book of Delicacies and the Fifty-four Stanzas. The same robust and ardent manner appears in illustrations to the Bhagavata Vurana dated 1688 and yet another series proves that this virile and poetic style continued into the eighteenth century.
The second strand is connected with the minor state of Narsinghgarh. This state was formed in 1681 out of the larger state of Rajgarh, an area 150 miles south east of Mandu. In 1680, a series of Ragini pictures had already been painted there6 and in 1652, some illustrations to the Sanskrit love-poem, the Amaru Sataka, had been executed in similar style at a place provisionally identified as Nasratgarh. Between the two series there is so close a connection that the same group of artists must obviously be responsible. The 1652 pictures, however, are somewhat simpler in composition and include a floral panel filled with twining scrolls. This detail is foreign to other styles of Indian painting, but its presence in the Mandu manuscript of 1503 suggests a Malwa ancestry. It also occurs in The Dying Crane, a picture which is in the same style as a copy of Keshav Das's Rasika Vriya executed in 1634. In these pictures red backgrounds are maintained while a thick white band slackly rims the hills. And it is this last convention which appears in the Jain manuscript illustrated at Mandu in 1439. Although, therefore, many links are missing, it is possible to discern a second type of Malwa painting Ч a type which, beginning with a central Indian version of Jain illustration, reacts, at any rate in part, to the Persian pictures painted at Mandu, and then, in the seventeenth century, gives new pictorial expression to the reigning vogue for love-poetry.