CENTRAL INDIAN PAINTING
Such a conclusion was due to one circumstance - the coming of the Marathas. Swarming in from western India and the Deccan, they were comparable to the Goths and Vikings of western Europe. They aimed at spoil, not rule, and since the hapless Malwa lay in their course, it was central India and its cities which again and again received their vicious attentions. The Marathas, wrote Tod, were 'associations of vampires who drained the very life-blood wherever the scent of spoil attracted them.' They were virulently inartistic, the historian, Vincent Smith, even stating that they 'ordinarily refused to learn the art of reading, writing and cyphering which they considered unworthy of a soldier'. In the interests of loot, the Marathas were gradually forced to take charge of various territories, annexing many Rajput estates and founding in Malwa such famous enclaves as Gwalior and Indore. But for art and culture, their contempt was supreme. It is rather in the eastern half of central India, in Bundelkhand, that we must look for further painting in the eighteenth century. As early as 1590, Indrajit Singh had patronized poets and it is possible that in about 1620 a copy of Keshav Das's Rasika Vriya was illustrated in Orchha. The style discloses a broken-down Akbari manner and whatever other conclusions are drawn, it seems unlikely that Orchha itself had any distinctive tradition. Only in fact in the second half of the eighteenth century, and then in the neighbouring state of Datia, does painting make its appearance. The crumbling of the Mughal empire seems to have given a fresh impetus to Rajput culture and just as Jodhpur, Bikaner, Kishangarh and Jaipur all witnessed revivals of painting, Datia under Raja Shatrujit (1762—1801) also evolved a new style of CENTRAL INDIAN PAINTING. The main subject was Shatrujit himself, but pictures were also produced celebrating the loves of Radha and Krishna and the moods and spirits of the twelve months. The Datia style owes nothing to the parallel styles of Malwa and it is rather to Jaipur artists, aided perhaps by Mughal discipline, that we must look for this minor renaissance. Shatrujit was followed by Raja Parichhat (1801-39) but by then the British had absorbed central India, British values had affected Indian taste and painting in Datia was over.
Such an ending is not perhaps surprising when we recall the state of art under modern occupations. Indeed it is only in the India which has grown up since 1947 that enthusiasm for painting has once again emerged. Traditional Indian art is now in process of re-evaluation and as part of this process we can perceive the importance of CENTRAL INDIAN PAINTING. Despite its varying dynasties, Malwa evoked some of the most vital developments in Indian art. Its early introduction of Persian styles supplied the standard Jain manner with invigorating idioms, its influence in this respect far pre-dating that of the Mughals. Its parallel strands of painting imbued 'musical love-poetry’ with glowing ardour. Above all, its supreme glory, the style associated with Baz Bahadur, represented the most adult expression in Indian painting of sophisticated romance. It was painting of this kind which laid the foundations of Rajput painting in Mewar, the premier state of Rajasthan, and produced the virile compositions which exhilarate Indian minds today.

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