GARHWAL PAINTING
The second group of Garhwal pictures is obviously the work of lesser artists. We do not know how many were engaged but it is possible that at least a dozen were at work at different times. Some were obviously unsophisticated as is shown by the survival in certain pictures of primitive Guler conventions. Others may well have approached the master in delicate sensitivity. All were certainly influenced by his general example. The use of leafless branches to parallel the feminine form, the insertion into landscape of little globe-like trees, a predilection for towering spikes of starry flowers, the idiom of swirling waterthese are only a few of his inventions which came to characterise the common style.
For almost thirty years, painting in this manner continued to flourish. Peace, however, was a vital necessity and with the commencement of the nineteenth century, this was rudely shattered. A strain of weakness had characterised both Raja Pradhuman Shah and his father Raja Lalat. Neither was strongly martial and Hardwicke who visited Pradhuman in 1796 described him as 'in stature something under middle size, of slender make, regular in features but effeminate'. Such qualities would be of little use in battle and it is hardly surprising that when, in 1803, the Gurkhas invaded Garhwal, Pradhuman was quite unequal to the test. Harried by gloomy predictions and unnerved by an earthquake which only a year previously had wrecked Srinagar and shattered his palace, he hurriedly mustered an armyonly to be utterly routed early in 1804. Of his immediate entourage, his son, Sudarshan Shah, escaped to British territory while his brother, Parakram, took refuge with Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra. Pradhuman himself, however, was killed and with him almost all his court.
For Garhwal painting, the defeat was cataclysmic. As newcomers, the artists had depended wholly on the court and with its hurried evacuation their means of livelihood vanished. The Gurkhas who succeeded were the reverse of sensitive. Indeed the regime which now ensued so seared the country that it can only be compared with that of Cromwell in Ireland. 'The Goorkhas' wrote Fraser in 1816 'have ruled in Gurwhal for nearly twelve years and appear to have borne in mind the trouble it cost them to win it and acted as if determined to revenge it. Its old families were destroyed; all those persons of rank and importance who were taken were murdered or banished, its villages burnt and desolated and great numbers of its inhabitants sold as slaves. The remaining part were oppressed by heavy taxes and many voluntary banishments and emigrations took place to avoid a tyranny they could not withstand'.
In such circumstances, the artists must almost certainly have abandoned the capital. If, as seems likely, they left with the court, some may well have been killed in the massacre of the next year. The survivors may possibly have returned to Guler, sought employment in the neighbouring State of Sirmur or even gone to Kangra with Pradhuman's brother. In Srinagar itself, only the local artist, Mola Ram, seems to have remained. His house and lands were in the State. In 1780 he had intrigued with Pradhuman's short-lived predecessor, Jayakrit Shah (178081) and thus had permanently forfeited the ruler's favour. He had clearly nothing to lose and perhaps something to gain by quietly awaiting events. And in the result his prudence was rewarded. The Gurkha governors at the capital stood in marked contrast to the ruffians who terrorised the countryside. The Gurkha governor, Hastidal, accepted his companionship and for some years Mola Ram was a regular attendant at his house. Such painting as he now produced had the same harsh crudity as his earlier pictures but it is possible that profiting from the general confusion he obtained from other collections some of the Garhwal master's paintings. When, in 1816, Garhwal was liberated by British forces, Mola Ram and his family continued to play the same sagacious role. His son, Jwala Ram, became a clerk to the British Commissioner and having adopted the British technique, executed a series of topographical studies and some pictures of birds. As late as 1877 five artists, three of them descendants of Mola Ram, were still at work in the bazaar, aping with pathetic poverty the glories of the previous tradition.

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