RAJPUT PAINTING
Very little Rajput painting now known to survive can even tentatively be put earlier than A.D. 1600. There is, in fact, no dated document, but it is permissible to accept a late-sixteenth-century date for a small group of paintings which exhibit stylistic similarities with a series of illustrations to a Gujarati manuscript dated A.D. 1591. The most important from this point of view are some pictures illustrating the Gita Govinda (in the N. C. Mehta collection, and described and illustrated by him in J.I.S.O.A. XIII). They are extremely simple compositions showing figures practically all in the same register, almost in silhouette, this effect being increased by the dark backgrounds. They have a strong rhythmic movement absent from the Gujarati paintings. In brilliance of colouring and decisive draughtsmanship nearer to the older Gujarati school of the fifteenth and early sixteenth century are some illustrations to the love story Chaura-panchasika of the poet Bilhana. These show a more skilful hand and a greater range both of colour and of composition. They have to the full the old western Indian liking for textile designs and pleasure in transparent drapery. But they have a dance rhythm unknown in Gujarat. Connected with these are two series, each of twelve pictures, apparently treating themes connected with the twelve months now in the Lahore Museum. Such subjects, known as Baramasa, were a favourite theme for poets especially in western India, and the pictures seem to illustrate some romantic poem rather than a seasonal sequence. They are not so accomplished in drawing as the Chaura-panchasika series but the compositions are more elaborate and the colouring less violent. The tension is relaxed and they correspond to a decorated prose style as against a strict verse form. Probably rather later, but still connected with this group, are two lyrical pictures illustrating Krishna-Lila themes in the Boston Museum Collection. In these, landscape plays a more important part, but the figures have still the same doll-like look of these other early Rajput paintings. As in the early phase of so many arts there is in all this group a simplicity, transparency or lyricism which disappears in the more sophisticated art of the seventeenth century. We have no clue to the place where these were painted. Their affinities with the well-documented manuscripts of Gujarat are not so close as in the Uttaradhyana Sutra of A.D. 1591but are sufficient to justify a general attribution to a western rather than a northern Rajput school.

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