RAJPUT PAINTING
The sophisticated later paintings which we now have to consider arc very different. In the art of composition the artists had learnt much from the Mughal painters, though naturally slowly, not at once. An interesting series in half-Mughal style has fortunately been preserved in an album given to the University of Oxford in 1640 by Archbishop Laud: in it the movements are still somewhat jerky and abrupt and the colour does not reinforce the rhythm. Some other series which the costume fashions and colouring situate in the reign of the Mughal emperor Jahangir (1605-27) show an enhanced rhythm and colour sense, but the painters are still not quite comfortable in the use of the upright (Persian) page, instead of the indigenous horizontal shape which had derived from the palm leaf: and it was finally on the stock of the sixteenth-century western Indian style of the Chaura-panchasika series that the wholly successful seventeenth-century Ragmala tradition was based when once the lesson had been learnt of the new art of composition. Among these series, the earliest is probably that mainly in Boston, but of which three members are in the British Museum. Here the assured gesture and rhythmic movements no longer burst uncomfortably out of the picture space, but produce an internal energy, the more effective for being controlled. Several other series are known in part at least with varied colour schemes and types of figure. But the simple type with few figures and economy of detail does not outlast the seventeenth century, perhaps culminating in a series which is said to be dated A.D. 1680 and which is notable for a beautiful wide scroll pattern along the base of each leaf.
Rajput painting in the seventeenth century has forms as definite as those of the sonnet or the novel: it portrays the states of love or the type of hero and heroine, generally in illustration of theoretical or systematic poems treating of these themes, but sometimes of lyrical poems like the Gita Govinda or the various seasonal love poems known as Baramasa. Their most striking characteristics are symbolism and rhythm. As in most Oriental painting, gestures are the means of expression and colour combinations form the elements of composition.
Of the school of painting which flourished in the remote valleys of the western Himalayas we know little before the eighteenth century. The only dated manuscript which is assigned to this area by documentary evidence is a Chittarasmanjari with colophon recording that it was written for Raja Kirapala of Basohli in v.s. 1752 (A.D. 1694). Basohli is a small but ancient state whose history under its earlier name of Vellapur reaches back to the eleventh century. With most of the other hill states it submitted to Akbar in 1590 during Zain Khan Koka's campaign. The next ruler, Krishan Pal, who founded the old capital of Basohli in 1630, was imprisoned by Jahangir from 1614-27. During the height of the Mughal painting school all the Hill Rajas were in frequent touch with the Imperial court as a result of Akbar's policy of hostages and service in the Imperial army and administration. In this way their court painters were as likely to see examples of Mughal painting as were those working at the more important courts in the Plain. It is therefore at present not possible to say where were produced the few half-Mughal series of miniatures of the earlier seventeenth century which are at present known.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7