Krishna Combing Radha’s Hair

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This master-miniature, rendered using Indian medieval painting’s most sublime Kangra art idiom, as it was practised around 1810-20 at the Himalayan hill state of Kangra under the legendary art connoisseur Raja Sansara Chand whose court atelier gave to world art many timeless masterpieces and to the entire art of India, Himalayan Hills, in particular, an art culture of soft colours, gentle feelings and unique simplicity endowed with power to transcend the mind from this realm to another, without warranting it to read in between the lines or discover a hidden meaning – a kind of mysticism hardly seen in art ever before. Barring paper and colours that are new, and of course that the hands that drew it are contemporary, in everything: theme, style, figures’ iconography, forms of architecture, palette, flavour, overall spirit and mystic simplicity, the painting revives the Kangra art idiom that touched its ever greatest heights during the period from around 1780 to 1820. The painting represents Radha seated inside a marble jharokha – oriel window, wrought with multi-coloured semi-precious stones on the backside of the palace which the rows of Saptaparnis – a tree of which seven leaves grow as one unit, and the intercepting cypresses affirm. The jharokha is topped by a flattish dome, a characteristic feature of medieval Rajput architecture, and is supported on a large size lotus motif. A loving Krishna, leaning over her figure from behind, is combing her hair with a coloured ivory comb, while Radha, in absolute bliss, is looking into the mirror of her ring her own face, and Krishna’s, and the satisfaction revealing in his eyes and the demeanour of his face when dressing her hair. A ring with a small mirror fixed into it, known as ‘arsi-ring’, was exceptionally popular in medieval India, especially among the upper classes. The verse in the Gita Govinda portraying Krishna combing Radha’s hair abounds in rare lyricism but this lyricism multiplies many more times in the miniaturist’s diction of colours and in the strokes of his brush. Apart, the painted version breathes unique sublimity, a touch of softness and a strange mysticism.

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Item Code: HN54
Specifications:
Water Color Painting on PaperArtist: Kailash Raj
7.7 inch x 11.0 inch
Handmade
Handmade
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Free delivery
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Fully insured
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
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Fair trade

The painting presents an imaginative and romantic elongation of Krishna and Radha. Krishna is appeasing an annoyed Radha as he combs her hair. The artist is in tune with the Kangra art culture which dismissed unpleasantly encounter between Radha and Krishna, even that which finally led to a pleasant situation as in the Gita-Govinda verse, has transformed the forest-wandering Radha, and a Krishna wandering from grove to grove for love, into palace inmates and timeless perpetual lovers as the tradition have always perceived Radha and Krishna to have been. The artist seems to have given up the Gita-Govinda’s contextual harshness: Radha’s annoyance and Krishna’s persuasions and has exploited the situation for portraying, unbound to any context, one of the softest gestures expressing his love for her. He has portrayed his Radha and Krishna in complete harmony, and in love beyond all questions, broadly in a completely different frame.

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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