We know that following the death of Raja Gobardhan Singh in 1773, artists at Guler were confronted with a crisis and it is not unlikely that even before his death, patronage had already slackened. If an outside ruler had then invited artists to join him, others might well have broken away. Certainly in the case of Chamba, there are grounds for thinking that a Guler artist had left the court at what was clearly a vitally experimental stage. At the same time, Sikh marauders were growing more turbulent and when, in 1783, the traveller Forster entered the Hills at Nahan intending to move by easy stages up to Jammu, he was 'obliged to deviate from the usual track and proceed to the westward', the normal route through Guler 'being overrun by Sikhs'. Such insecurity may well have weighed with certain artists and encouraged them to seek another court. Kangra, though less than forty miles away, was obviously exposed to similar harassments. Its ruler, Raja Ghamand Chand, was powerful but insensitive and if the morale of certain artists had been undermined, a considerably more remote area would strike them as desirable. Garhwal was two hundred miles away, connected only by a mule track through tumbled country and thus its very distance may have lent it a certain enchantment. But it is another, quite simple circumstance which probably explains their choice. Either shortly before or a little after Raja Lalat Shah of Garhwal (ruled 1772-80) came to the throne, a marriage was effected between his son, Raja Pradhuman Shah (ruled 1781-1804) and a Guler princess, the daughter of Ajab Singh, a scion of the Guler royal house. For celebrating the nuptials, a great party left Garhwal for Guler while on the return journey, Guler people went to Garhwal with the bride. Such an occasion, if nothing else, could well have proved decisive. If the princess herself were not a patron, her family may have shared the Guler ruler's interest in art. Patronage by a lady was not impossible, for one of the most famous illustrated copies of the Sanskrit poem, the Gita Govinda, was commissioned by a princess of Basohli, the lady Manaku. Even in the palaces themselves, it was often the court ladies who busied themselves with pictures, taking them out of their cloth bundles and beguiling the hours by turning over their pages. It is not improbable, then, that certain Guler artists attached themselves to the wedding party and remained at Garhwal when the rest of the party had returned. If, as is equally possible, one or two had gone there somewhat earlier, the wedding would have strengthened the minds of waverers and provided them with an added inducement to move. In the light of all these circumstances and recalling the marked affinities of Garhwal pictures with those of Kangra and Guler, only one conclusion seems possible—that it was Guler artists who went to Garhwal and despite the jealousies of Mola Ram, achieved a dominant position.

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