When Dr A. K. Coomaraswamy published his pioneer book on Rajput painting thirty-one years ago he defined his subject as 'the Hindu painting of Rajputana and the Panjab Himalayas'— he added 'Rajput painting is the counterpart of the vernacular literature of Hindustan'.
Rajputana is the name of an administrative district marked in modern maps. Rajput painting has a wider extension, not only, as Dr Coomaraswamy indicated, to the north, but also into Bundelkhand to the east and in some degree to Gujarat in the south-west. It is characteristic of the areas under the rule of Rajputs, the fighting and chivalric class, who kept Hindu civilization alive in northern India during the centuries of Muhammadan dominion which started with the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni in A.D. IOOO. The decay of the large Hindu king¬doms of the Chalukyas in western India, following the death of Vishnadevi in 1261, and of Kashmir in the north in the twelfth century, led to the independence of a number of small Rajput states. The Hill states of the western Himalayas were also ruled by Rajputs who originally came from the plains and acquired these lands by conquest. Political independence threw a greater cultural responsibility on all the Rajput rulers. Their rule was patriarchal, based on the ownership of land, and as in other feudal societies, bards, often succeeding father to son in regular heredity, were maintained in the households, and, in the same way, we may suppose from the practice of later days, painters.