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THE MONTH OF SARWAN (August). One of a series of illustrations to poems on the Seasons of the Year called Baramasa. Western Indian or Southern Rajasthani school: About 1570. Central Museum, Lahore
THE MONTH OF SARWAN (August)


There are two complete series of paintings illustrating the seasons, very similar in style, in the Lahore Museum. They are among the earliest Rajasthani paintings known, and have all the vigour of a new beginning. The gestures are those of dancers and there is a dance rhythm throughout the compositions. Baramasa are 'songs describing the pleasures of lovers and the pangs of separation according to the moods of the well-marked changes of the Indian seasons, month by month'. They are essentially popular and had been written in the vernacular as early as the eleventh century. The intensity of relief at the coming of the rains is seen in the movements of the two standing girls and of the birds in the tree. Rain can be seen falling from the black storm-clouds. The composition is still 'primitive', in that distant objects are placed above those in the foreground. The blue area seems to be a pool surrounded by a marble terrace. The two rooms are both represented in elevation—in the lower is the heroine with a confidante and attendant: in the upper is a figure which occurs in most of the figures in each series: he is probably intended for the poet of the verses illustrated.
The complete profile of the figures and the solid background are reminiscent of the mediaeval miniatures of Gujarat, but the characteristic facial type, the dress patterns and the transparent saris worn by all the girls are not found in Gujarati painting. The costumes are much more elaborate than in Plate 1, but they seem to be basically the same.
This may probably be an early example of the employment of the codex shape in Western Indian painting. It is more elaborate and less conventionalized than the early seventeenth century Ragini paintings and shows no trace of Mughal influence, differing in this from two Krishna-lila paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The text on these is written in mixed Gujarati and Marwari. The dress patterns are similar to those shown here, but the long braided pigtails and floating transparent saris do not appear. Yet the date cannot be much, if at all, after 1600. How greatly have the gestures and colouring been softened during the intervening generation!