(A folio from the Rasa-manjari by Bhanudatta)

SAMANYA NAYIKA – COURTESAN (A folio from the Rasa-manjari by Bhanudatta)

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Item Code: HK17
Watercolor on Paper
Artist: Kailash Raj
8.6 inches X 6.5 inches
This excellent miniature, a folio illustrating the 15th century Sanskrit classic Rasa-manjari by poet Bhanudatta, a text on Nayika-bheda – classification of women folk in relation to their love-life, a classical tradition prevalent in Indian literature from pre-Common Era days, represents Samanya Proshita Bhartrika Nayika – a courtesan whose lover is away. The folio is rendered pursuing the stylistic model, and in its complete exactness and with alike masterly strokes of brush, of the 1660-70’s historic Basohli Rasa-manjari set by Kirpal, the father of the known Basohli artist Devidas who is credited to have rendered another Rasa-manjari set, as much accomplished, more elaborate and more widely known than his father’s. This contemporary folio revives to the eye the glory, and perhaps antiqueness, of the pioneer style of Pahari art born at Basohli around the mid-seventeenth century in the form of Kirpal’s Rasa-manjari illustrative paintings.

Bhanudatta has classified women in love under threes classes : Svakiya – one who loves her own husband; Parakiya – one who loves a person other than her husband; and, Samanya – a courtesan who is anyone’s love or who chooses anyone as her lover. This folio represents Samanya, the courtesan. As defines Bhanudatta, Samanya Proshita Bhartrika Nayika is one who basically loves money and does everything to extort it from her lover. Ordinarily she is conceived with a well furnished house and a luxurious coach laid in full view, the Samanya would sit on the threshold of her house, and well-adorned but in a sad mood shall await her lover who is not on time. She would have in her hands a needle smeared in chilly-powder so that when her lover comes, she applies it into her eyes and is able to generate false tears with its help and impress upon him how much she has longed for him all this while. In sympathy for the pangs of separation that she is believed to have suffered her lover would compensate her by giving her money as she expected.

In the early Basohli painting tradition, which this contemporary folio revives and represents, Lord Krishna is the hero around whom a theme is woven. In its later versions, especially those painted by Devidas, a princely hero occupies this position. Though not completely, in later illustrations hero and heroine and their gestures etc. are the focal point of the painting. In this folio representing the early tradition, as much carefully have been treated the architecture, trees, drapery, entire interior and background. Illustrative details have been rigorously worked at. Besides other things, the Samanya is holding in right hand even a thin rod, obviously one smeared in chilly powder.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

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