Not like these days’ showrooms or departmental stores and their pump and show, with its fine and expensive selection, put on display or stored in shelves, shop’s rich but elegant elevation, and with a wealthy trader being its owner, the shop appears to be a standard one visited mostly by class gentry – feudatory, landlords and other elite, something which the two women’s jewellery, attire, ways, and even appearance, also suggest. They are essentially from society’s upper strata. The painting portrays them as engaged in shopping. They have displayed before them a number of odhanis’ type printed textiles having zari borders. One on the shop’s inner side is explaining to the shopkeeper the type of cloth she wants, and as suggests the demeanour of the shopkeeper’s face, his mind is occupied in thinking which piece shall suit her choice and he should show.
The shop’s ambience, architecture and entire character reveal a kind of Mughal India’s medievalism. All textiles, put on display or stored in shelves, are feminine wears, with no male clothing being discernible in the entire collection. A medieval shop pursuing Mughal model could be a shop either fully for male wears or for female. Forts and palace enclosures usually had a bazaar complex, and in it, a section reserved for women, perhaps for facilitating the purda-using harem inmates for freely visiting it. This painting, however, deviates a little from this Mughal tradition. While under strict Mughal norms a shop was required to have a woman as its keeper, this shop has a male, though it is the shop’s owner himself who could deal with them with appropriate dignity and respect. The painting’s visual aspect is very strong strengthened further by the brilliant textiles hung from the ceiling of the shop – lahariyas, the textiles having waving patterns, tied-and-dyed, mirror-inlaid, brocaded, printed, pained, embroidered among others, all glistening with gold’s glow and brilliant colours.
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
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