CENTRAL INDIAN PAINTING
Such a vogue dates from at least the time of Baz Bahadur and possibly on account of strongly Muslim elements in Malwa culture owes little to the Hindu cult of Krishna. In the Hindu strongholds of Rajasthan religion had vividly expressed romantic wishes. In Malwa on the other hand two kinds of love-poetry enchanted the ruling nobility. The first was the poetry of Amaru, the Sanskrit writer of the seventh century.
'Birds in all the trees of my garden, will you be able to imprison my longing in your musical net? It breaks out towards my lover whom I have not seen for thirty days. My longing would hasten and make haste and beat against her perfumed breasts, against her scented voice. Hold it not back, good birds.'
'She said over and over very tenderly: "Come and see my parakeet." I followed her into the house, but her women spied on us, and she said: "My parakeet must be in the garden." He was not in the arbour, for the scent of the jasmine was too strong there. He was not on the bank of the runlet, for a little boy was cutting wood there. We found him at last in a deserted pavilion on a gilded sofa.' The second kind was the love-poetry of music in which the 'spirit' of a mode was addressed as if it were a charming lady or delightful prince. For pictures illustrating such poems, the demand was even stronger, quantities of Ragamalas (or 'Garlands of Modes') being painted in styles resembling those of Narsinghgarh. In these pictures, there is no longer the early stress on bold magnetic forms. It is rather as if the prime participators are trees and creepers, their surging luxuriance and swaying branches conveying, as in pictures by the English painter, Samuel Palmer, a mood of passionate excess.
The remaining strand in Malwa painting reflects the influence of Ahmadnagar in the Deccan. The pictures with which we are concerned are clearly of Malwa provenance for they share the same range of reds, steely blues and soft greens which characterize the second strand of Malwa painting. At the same time other idioms have an Ahmadnagar character and provide clear proof of some mysterious cross-fertilization. Ahmadnagar had fallen in 1600 and there is no trace of its painting after that date. It is possible, then, that after the city's capture, a few Deccani artists hurried northwards. The pictures in question date from about 1680, but another picture may well be forty years earlier and it is not unreasonable to suppose that Ahmadnagar elements steadily persisted between 1600 and 1680. Such pictures are of special importance for it was out of this third strand that Malwa painting in the eighteenth century was chiefly to develop. Many series of pictures were produced illustrating the love-poetry of music and while figures, particularly those of women, tended to shorten, eyes lost something of their sharpness and colour its ardent intensity, the basic compositions and many idioms remained the same. Early in the nineteenth century, descendants of the original artists may have carried the style to Jaipur, the state in Rajasthan immediately north of Malwa, and for a while developed a mixed Malwa-Jaipur manner. In Malwa itself, however, courtly painting seems to have ended.

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