Edmonton, the bustling capital of Alberta, offers a wide range of attractions to vacationers and locals alike. From the cosmopolitan world of West Edmonton Mall to the natural beauty of the North Saskatchewan River Valley, Edmonton has something for everyone.
No trip to Edmonton is complete without a trip to West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping complex in North America. In addition to world-class shopping and restaurants, the Mall contains movie theaters, a skating rink, a miniature golf course and Galaxy World, an indoor amusement park.
The Mall, or WEM as locals call it, also includes the World Waterpark, the second largest indoor water park in the world. The World Waterpark includes a wave pool, inflatable raft ride, multiple slides (including the 83-foot-high Cyclone and Twister), and a bungee jump. On a cold winter’s day the Waterpark is a real draw, whether you’ve been shoveling snow off your driveway or are taking a vacation from a your work at the holistic drug rehabilitation center.
People associate the Old West with the United States, but Edmonton was once a frontier town too. Fort Edmonton recreates the city’s beginnings as a fur trading fort run by the Hudson Bay Company. The fort includes historical recreations, a steam-driven train and opportunities to explore life from the 1840s to the 1920s.
Speaking of the city’s past, K-days are a ten-day festival and exhibition. Once called Klondike Days, the festival once had a gold rush feel. Today, K-days center around an extensive midway and exhibition at Northlands Coliseum.
K-days run alongside a Taste of Edmonton, where the city’s best restaurants present samples of their best creations in Winston Churchill Square, next to the City Hall. Tickets are cheap, and offer an opportunity to eat gourmet food in a fair-like atmosphere.
A stroll down Whyte Avenue is a window shopper’s dream, with niche shops, bookstores and cozy cafes. Catch a movie at the historic Princess Theatre or explore the weekly farmers’ market with its fresh food and artwork.
If you’re on Whyte Avenue in August, be sure to catch a show at the International Fringe Theater Festival. Performances are often edgy, imaginative and push the boundaries of theater to new levels.
One of Edmonton’s most scenic attractions is the river valley, a stretch of uninterrupted park and woodland running through the city on both sides of the North Saskatchewan River. Formally known as the North Saskatchewan River Valley Parks System, the river valley includes 20 major parks and is the largest urban parkland in North America.
The valley covers 18,000 acres, and offers golf courses, cross-country skiing and hiking trails, bike paths and skating facilities. The valley includes Fort Edmonton Park, the Edmonton Valley Zoo, the Muttart Conservatory and the John Janzen Nature Center. The Muttart Conservatory is a particularly well-known Edmonton landmark, made of four connected pyramid-shaped conservatories offering plants from across the world.
The John Janzen Nature Center provides information on the many animals that make the river valley their home. Nature lovers may spot rabbits, beavers and skunks, as well as larger wildlife. Deer, porcupines and even bears inhabit the valley. In addition to tours and demonstrations, the Nature Center includes the Tegler Discovery Zone, where kids can experience life in recreations of local wildlife habitats.
Perhaps the most persistent theme in all of Indian art and literature is that of love, both secular and divine. Numerous texts and myriad images are devoted to it, including a number of the paintings in the Green collection. The divine lovers Radha and Krishna served as the primary literary and artistic impetus. Their popularity was such that the imagery of their romance was even borrowed for personifying the various types of lovers long codified in Indian literature.
The symbolic role of love achieved its greatest prominence during the tenth through eighteenth centuries with the widespread efflorescence of the cult of bhakti, "literally 'participation' (of the soul in the divine)". Loving devotion to a personal deity, especially Krishna, was considered to be the ultimate form of religious pursuit and expression. Devotional poets and sectarian teachers appropriated the imagery of the married cowherdess Radha's pining for her divine paramour Krishna to express the yearning of the soul for godhead. The romance of the divine couple was described and depicted in a wide range of emotional situations and activities, including impassioned intercourse.
One of the earliest and most important of the literary works on love that is represented in the Green collection is the Gitagovinda (Song of the herdsman), the devotional text par excellence of the Krishna cult. Composed in Sanskrit by the poet Jayadeva, the lyric, erotic poem describes the initial passion of Radha and Krishna, their temporary estrangement because of Radha's jealousy over Krishna's sharing of his love with other cowherdesses, and their ecstatic reconciliation in Krishna's nocturnal bower of delight. Although ostensibly a secular work, the Gitagovinda must also be regarded as a religious text owing to its intensely devout character, its metaphorical devotional symbolism, and its extensive adoption by Krishna devotees. Indeed, the Gitagovinda is considered a classic example of the widespread coalescence of the sacred and the secular within traditional Indian culture.
Radha makes her debut as Krishna's chief consort in the Gitagovinda. Previously she was known only from sporadic literary and epigraphical references, beginning in the seventh century. Radha is absent from the major early texts in which the life of Krishna is related: the Bhagavatapurana, Harivamsa,and Vishnupurana. In these earlier texts, Krishna dallies with an anonymous group of cowherdesses (gopis) rather than a favorite lover. As a result of the exclusive emphasis accorded Radha in the Gitagovinda, her fame and popularity grew so powerful that one sect, the Radhavallabhis founded in the sixteenth century at Brindavan near Mathura, regarded her as supreme over Krishna and to be the cosmic source of his divine energy.
The devotional literature and poetry composed after the Gitagovinda continued to stress the theme of worldly love as a metaphor for the soul's search for divinity. The romance and imagery of Krishna and Radha remained paramount and, perhaps most significantly, became pictorially and textually interwoven with an established literary tradition that classified generic female lovers, translated as "heroines" or "ladies") and male lovers (nayakas, translated as "heroes" or "lords") by romantic situation and emotional charge. Ideal lovers had long been described in classical Sanskrit texts on dance and eroticism, but it was not until the late sixteenth century in the Rasikapriya (Connoisseurs' delights) of Kcsavadas (c. 1554-c. i600) that Radha and Krishna were explicitly identified as a nayika and a nayaka.
There are eight types of female lovers classified by Kesavadas in the Rasikapriya: she whose beloved is subject to her, she who is alone and yearning, she who waits by the bed, she who is separated from her beloved by a quarrel, she who is offended, she whose beloved has gone abroad, she who has made an appointment and is disappointed, she who goes out to meet her beloved. The poet further subdivides each category according to various physical differences, mental attitudes, and environmental situations. Kesavadas's correlation of Radha and Krishna with the tradition of ideal lovers was both innovative and inspired, and it certainly contributed to the immense popularity of the text.
Another key distinguishing characteristic of the Rasikapriya is that it was written in the vernacular Hindi rather than the Sanskrit of the courts, as was the Gitagovinda. Texts classifying lovers continued to be written in Sanskrit, but it was in Hindi that the romance of Radha and Krishna and their personifications as ideal lovers achieved the greatest appeal. Hindi devotional literature is exceedingly rich, and countless love poems were written after the Rasikapriya, such as the Satsai of Bihari Lal, that are equally passionate in their descriptions of the love of Radha and Krishna. The imagery of the divine lovers was also adopted and used symbolically in contexts as diverse as the Baramasa (The twelve months), a collection of poems celebrating the months of the year and the emotional states associated with each month or climatic season.
Numerous other lovers were also portrayed and glorified in the art and/or the oral and literary traditions of northern India. This was especially true in the Panjab, an area renowned for its association with lovers. Perhaps the best known such couple was Sohni and Mahinwal, two ill-fated lovers whose tragic tale captured the imagination of artists and poets throughout northern India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Other celebrated lovers include Baz Bahadur and Rupmati, Dhola and Marti, Sassi and Punnu, Hir and Ranjha, and the Iranian lovers Layla and Majnun. Some may have been fictional, or at least had their romances considerably embellished. Others were historical figures who were portrayed in the celestial guise of Radha and Krishna, such as the eighteenth-century ruler of Kishangarh Savant Singh and his favorite mistress, Bani Thani.
Savant Singh was an enlightened ruler and a great devotee of Krishna. As well as being a renowned warrior in the grand Rajput tradition, he was a painter, musician, and accomplished poet. Besides his love of Krishna, Savant Singh was enamored of a beautiful courtesan and singer whose real name is unknown but who is popularly known in the court records and Savant Singh's poems as Bani Thani, "she who is smart and well-dressed." So great was Savant Singh's love of both Krishna and Bani Thani that in 1757 he abdicated his throne to move with his beloved to Brindavan, the pastoral home of Krishna, in order to devote himself to Krishna's worship and dwell in his lord's domain. Savant Singh and Bani Thani lived in idyllic bliss at Brindavan until his death in 1764 and hers the following year. The passionate love of Savant Singh for both Krishna and Bani Thani inspired the artists of Kishangarh to create a phenomenal series of paintings portraying the king and his consort as the divine couple Krishna and Radha.
Moreover, apart from representations of divine or ideal lovers, the theme of love is suggested implicitly in certain landscape painting conventions. Pairs of birds and animals are used as metaphors for loving couples or the act of love. The moon and secluded forest groves suggest sensual trysts in the night. Similarly, dramatic lightening and deep, rich colors, particularly brown or blue-black, are symbolic of ardent passion. These compositional elements all contribute to the emotional flavor (rasa) of the paintings (Goswamy 1986a). Like the legends of the lovers they portray, Indian paintings on the theme of romance are evocative and capable of producing the same intense emotional response as the inspired poetry they so eloquently illume.
Writer – Stephen Markel
Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 3:11 AM 0 comments
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In the Chera country, there was great temple-building activity during the Vijayanagara period and the temple of Sthanunatha at Suchindram and the Padmanabhasvami shrine at Trivandrum have had a good deal of additions and embellishments during this period till practically the eighteenth century. The peculiar local type of plan and super-structure may be noticed at Tirunandikkarai and Trikotithanam where the single and double-roofed circular shrines, respectively, represent an individualistic pattern peculiar to Malabar. Though very little has yet been discovered to show the intermediate stages between the early Chera phase at Tirunandikkarai and the late period, there are yet lovely paintings at Tiruvanchikulam that suggest the march of Chera painting in the Kerala country towards the phase that corresponds to the Vijayanagara and the Nayak periods in the Tamil South.
The Chera school closely resembles the contemporary sculpture and wood carvings but, up to the early Vijayanagara period, little has been found to show the intermediate stages. With a distinctive type of anatomy of squat and robust type of figures, peculiar rich ornamentation recalling the Kathakati make-up, they present a subtle combination of the Kanarese and Dravida types easily seen in the peculiar elongate halo surrounding the crown as in Western Chalukya figures and other details. The nandidhvaja in one of the hands of the multi-armed Siva Nataraja on Apasmara at Ettumanur recalls both the Badami and Pattadaskal Natesas as well as the Nallur one. It is interesting to see how closely it resembles a similar painting from the Kailasa temple at Ellora. This huge painting that can vie with the earlier Chola Tripurantaka panel at Tanjavur and with the contemporary Vijayanagara Virabhadra at Lepakshi is a remarkable one located in the temple gopura and forms a fine introduction to the genius of the painter in Malabar at this period of history.
The paintings at Tiruvanchikulam, at Pallimanna, at Triprayer, in the Vadakkunatha temple at Trichur and in the Mattancheri palace constitute a rich heritage from the Cochin area, while those from Vaikom, Ettumanur, Chitaral, etc., having a culmination in the famous paintings from the Padmanabhapuram and Krishnapuram palaces, provide a picture of the painter's art in Travancore area. The mouth is rather wide and the eyes have side-long looks, the body-build is heavy and a smile is evident on the lips of all the figures of this school. Minute details of dress and habits can be studied here. The top-knot of the Nambudiris and the triple lamp so common in Malabar are all present. The scenes from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas, including iconographic themes chosen by the painters for portrayal, like the incident of Kumbhakarna gobbling the monkeys so tiny as to escape through his nostrils and ears, are examples of the painters' novel choice of comparatively insignificant but nevertheless interesting scenes.
Writer – C. Shivramamurti
Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 10:20 PM 0 comments
The principal centre of Pahari painting was the Kangra Valley where the artists worked under the patronage of the Hill Rajas of Guler, Kangra and Nurpur. From here the artists migrated to the neighbouring States of Mandl, Suket, Kulu, Tehri and Garhwal in the cast and Basohli and Chamba in the north. The art of these States was but an off-shoot of the art of Kangra and the most appropriate name for this version of Rajput art is the "Kangra Valley School of Painting".
Specimens of early paintings in the Basohli style can be found in all the Punjab Hill States. They are simple works, full of strength and primitive vitality. The pattern is rugged and domineering, and the lines and colours are bold and enduring. The hill painter selected themes which he could handle with masculine directness, without apology or prudery. He worked with fearless passion, imparting 10 his work energy and power which is in great contrast with the nervous grace of later creations. The artist attained a maximum of expression with the minimum of means. The vibrant colours of Basohli paintings are enchanting.
The main centres of Kangra painting were Guler, Basohli, Chamba, Nurpur, Bilaspur and Kangra. Guler, and Nurpur are near the plains and their Rajas came into early contact with the Mughal emperors.
Of the Hill States, Guler has the longest tradition in the art of painting. It has been established that during the rule of Dalip Singh (A.D. 1695-1743) artists were working at Haripur-Guler. Portraits of Dalip Singh exist and these can hardly be later than 1720. There are a number of portraits of his eldest son, Bishan Singh, which can be dated to about 1730. Bishan Singh died during the lifetime of his father and in 1743 his younger brother Govardhan Chand became the Raja of Guler. Govardhan Chand was a patron of art and a large number of his portraits which were formerly in the collection of Raja Baldev Singh are now in Chandigarh Museum. We reproduce a painting of Govardhan Chand listening to music, which was in the collection of Raja Baldev Singh and is now in Chandigarh Museum.
The Raja is seated on a terrace listening to the music of drums and pipes. Terraces of this nature can be seen in the Haripur-Guler Fort overlooking the Ranganga. It is a key painting which marks the transition of the Mughal into the Kangra style. Describing this painting, J. C. French observes: "The Raja is listening to music, and the air of gentle reverie is well expressed. The pose of the individual figures and the balance of the whole is admirable. In this respect it resembles the finest of the Mogul paintings, but it has a delicacy and a spirituality of feeling to which the Mogul art never attains. The coloring of Kangra pictures of this period is extraordinarily delicate. The Kangra artist had the colours of the dawn and the rainbow on his palette."The role of Guler in the evolution of the Kangra style is thus summed up by Dr. Archer:
"The State of Guler played a decisive part in the development of Pahari painting in the eighteenth century. Not only did it develop a local art of the greatest delicacy and charm, but the final version of this Guler style was taken to Kangra in about 1780, thus becoming the `Kangra' style itself. Guler is not merely one of thirty-eight small centres of Pahari art. It is the originator and breeder of the greatest style in all the Punjab hills." Subsequent research has fully confirmed Dr. Archer's thesis, and if any place can be called the birth place of Kangra painting, it is Guler.
Research which has been carried from 1952 onwards has proved that the paintings in early Guler style were by the artists Manaku and Nainsukh. The sons of these artists and the grandsons of Nainsukh worked at Guler, Basohli, Chamba and other places and are responsible for the finest paintings.
The greatest patron of painting in the Punjab hills was Maharaja Sansar Chand. He was born in 1765 at Bijapur, a village in Palampur tehsil. In 1786, he occupied the Kangra Fort and became the most powerful Raja of the Punjab hills. In 1794, he defeated Raja Raj Singh of Chamba and annexed a part of his territory. Later on, he defeated the Rajas of Sirmur, Mandl and Suket. Raja Prakash Chand of Guler became his vassal.
In 1809, Sansar Chand employed a European adventurer, 0' Brien, who established a factory of small arms and raised a disciplined force of 1400 men for him. In seelo Brien waving a fly-whisk over Sansar Chand. It is a very fine portrait by one of the Guler artists who had migrated to Tira-Sujanpur. The green background with dashes of red in the horizon is typical of the work of these artists. The character of Sansar Chand, proud and sensitive, is well brought out in this painting.
Kangra paintings under the patronage of Sansar Chand were painted at Alampur, Tira-Sujanpur and Nadaun, all on the banks of the Beas. Very little painting, if at all, was done at Kangra proper which remained under Mughal occupation till 1786 and Sikh occupation from A.D. 1810 to 1846.
Little has been written about Nurpur, an important centre of Kangra painting. Raja Bas Dev (A.D. 1580-1613) came in conflict with the Mughals during the reign of Akbar. Jagat Singh (A.D. 1619-1646), however, entered the service of Jahangir and must have come in contact with the work of Mughal painters. A portrait of Jagat Singh in Basohli style is in the collection of Chandigarh Museum, and there is every likelihood that this style may have originated as a parallel development at Nurpur apart from Basohli. Rajrup Singh (A.D. 1646-1661) was also in the employ of Aurangzeb. Some paintings ascribed to the reign of Prithvi Singh (A.D. 1735-1789) are extant. Most of them belong to the reign of Bir Singh (A.D. 1789-1846), a contemporary of Prakash Chand and Sansar Chand.
"Sensitive, reticent and tender, it perfectly reflects the self-control and sweet serenity of Indian life, and the definitely theocratic and aristocratic organisation of Indian society. It lands itself to the utterance of serene passion and the expression of unmixed emotions!" This description of Rajput painting by Coomaraswamy is particularly relevant to the art of the lovely valley of Kangra. The romance of the Epics and the Puranas were here given a new life in the voluptuous line and colour, the Krishna-Lila with all its exotic symbolism was reenacted by the painter's brush, the Shiva-Parvati lore was invested with fresh colour and the lyrics of Keshav Das were given a new expression.
The art of the Kangra Valley acquires deep meaning if viewed in its cultural perspective. The symbolism conveys to us a sense of reality. The style has a unique sense of freedom and is closely connected with the soil. There is no self-consciousness, no studied emotions, no attitudes. It is free from the stresses of exaggerated personality and deliberate individuation, and the painting is nothing but music in colour. The emotions it seeks to portray are registered with astonishing truth. The technique is "limited", and we find the painter employing set formulas in the portrayal of features, limbs and landscape. Yet the effect is beautiful, for the forms that evoke it are truly vital, transcending the limitations of mere technique. It is here that lies the greatness of Kangra art.
The flowing and graceful curves of Kangra art form rhymes and assonances. The eye moves with ease and comfort from one point to another enjoying delightful rhythms and harmonies and the restful beauty of the curve.
With a change in the taste of the patrons, and in keeping with the new trends of mysticism, lyricism was seen to enter Kangra painting. "The figures are now more animated, the line more nervous and fluent, the resurge of physical charm is deliberate, women are willowy and slender, their eyes very long and curved, and the deep-dyed fingers are delicate and tapering."' Kangra art was imbued with a subtle charm, and the delicate and refined pictures acquired an almost feminine grace for which they were to become so well known.
The inner vitality and natural charm of the style faded away in the early 19th century. There was an increasing tendency towards mere ornamentation. The energy of the artist was now directed towards superficial embellishment and fineness of detail. The art fell into decay and died, but the artist outlived it for a while. He was haunted by memories which he tried to paint, but the living presence that inspired him once was no more. The patronage of the court, too, had disappeared and though he painted, there was neither joy in his work nor life in his creation. There was an endless repetition of cliches.
The birth of Kangra art in the Valley about the middle of the 18th century, and its decline in the middle of the 19th century is a strange phenomenon in the history of Indian art. Its sudden decay is difficult to explain. The Valley is the same with its mountains and sparkling streams of water, but where are those men of genius? As one wanders through the ruins of Haripur, Sujanpur, and Nadaun, one cannot help being moved by the dead splendour of the palaces; their culture has disappeared never to return.
To turn to the technique of Kangra painting; its chief features are delicacy of line, brilliance of colour and minuteness of decorative detail. Like the art of Ajanta, Kangra art is essentially an art of line. As Coomaraswamy observes, "Vigorous archaic outline is the basis of its language." This amazing delicacy and fineness of the line was achieved by the use of fine brushes made from the hair of squirrels.
A preliminary sketch in light red colour was made with the brush on brown hand-made Sialkoti paper. This was primed with white and the surface made very smooth. The outlines were then redrawn in brown or black. Colour was now applied, first the background and then the figures. The outline was now redrawn and the picture finished. Very often the colouring was done by assistants after the master had completed the drawing.
The Kangra painters made use of pure colours, like yellow, red and blue, and these have retained their brilliance, even after two hundred years. Many unfinished sketches are to be had in which the names of colours to be employed are indicated on the sketch. Sketches were often preserved as heirlooms, and used for fresh commissions with a few modifications.
Kangra painting knows no perspective, but the wonderful glowing colours and delicate line-work more than compensate for this deficiency. The human figures, particularly of women, were mostly drawn from memory and this explains the similarity of the female faces with gazelle-like eyes, straight noses and rounded chins. Each artist evolved his own formula for the portrayal of faces, and though names of artists may not be written on paintings, it is possible at times to identify the work of individual artists. Almost all the faces are drawn in profile. Perhaps it was easier to do so, but it may be that the beautifully chiselled features of Kangra women are more effectively portrayed in this manner.
Kangra painting till recently was regarded as largely anonymous. Recent research has revealed the names of a number of artists. Manaku and Nainsukh were artists of outstanding ability. Kama, Nikka, Ranjha and Gaudhu, sons of Nainsukh, were also well-known artists. A few pictures from Guler are signed by Gursahaya. Khushala, Fattu and Purkhu are mentioned as artists in the employ of Sansar Chand. Purkhu specialised in delicate paintings in transparent tones and subdued colour. His son, Ramdayal, who is said to have inherited much of his father's talent, is also mentioned. Nikka worked at Chamba during the rule of Raja Raj Singh. His sons Chhajju and Harkhu worked for Raja Jeet Singh.
The central theme of Kangra painting is love, and its sentiments are expressed in a lyrical style full of rhythm, grace and beauty. As Coomaraswamy states, "What Chinese art achieved for landscape is here accomplished for human love." The recurring theme of Kangra painting, whether it portrays one of the six seasons or modes of music, Krishna and Radha or Shiva and Parvati, is the love of man for woman and of woman for man. To the Kangra painters the beauty of the female body comes first and all else is secondary. It is her charms that are reflected in the landscape of the Kangra Valley.
Dr. W. G. Archer has rendered great service to art criticism and appreciation by pointing out sexual symbols in Kangra painting. Whether the symbols were consciously used or were an expression of hidden urges of the subconscious mind is difficult to decide. Rajput society of the late 18th and early 19th centuries was puritanical in nature. There was considerable repression of normal emotions and it is possible that the aristocracy found a release for its repressed desires in paintings of an erotic character.
These love-pictures display considerable intensity of feeling and are works of real beauty. Life in the foot-hills of the Himalayas was full of danger and insecurity, and death lurked not only on the battle-field but also in the thick forests that covered the area. Women were greatly relieved when their husbands came home safely, and their meeting was all the more intense for its uncertainty.
We sec a deep love of nature in Kangra painting. The landscapes are characteristic of the lower Beas Valley. Low undulating hills crowned with umbrella-like pipal and banyan trees, mango groves, and the farmers' homesteads hidden in clumps of bamboo and plantain, fresh water streams brimming with the glacial waters of the Dhauladhar, rivulets meandering through wave-like terraced fields in which love-sick pairs of mints cranes wander all these are represented faithfully. This landscape is suffused with love, and the intensity of the artist's perception breaks through the world of appearances to touch the core of reality. As Okakura says: "Fragments of nature in her decorative aspects, clouds black with sleeping thunder, the mighty silence of pine forests, the immovable serenity of the snow and the ethereal purity of the lotus rising out of darkened waters, the breath of star-like plum flowers, the stains of heroic blood on the robes of maidenhood, the tears that may be shed in his old age by the hero, the mingled terror and pathos of war, and the waning light of some great splendor such are the moods and symbols into which the artistic consciousness sinks before it touches with revealing hands that mask under which the Universal hides. Art thus becomes the moment's repose of religion, or the instant when love steps half unconscious on her pilgrimage in search of the Infinite, lingering in gaze on the accomplished past and dimly seen future a dream of suggestion, nothing more fixed but a suggestion of the spirit, nothing less noble."
Writer - M.S. Randhawa
With the decline of the power of the Vijayanagara memperors after the battle of Tallikota, the feudatory rulers established themselves in independence with only a semblance of respect for the titular emperor. At Madurai, Tirumala Nayak is reputed for his great patronage of art, and the magnificent gopura and pudumandapa constructed by him are famous. Similarly, in Tanjavur and Kumbakonam, Raghunatha Nayak of Tanjavur was responsible for excellent monumental work. The temples of Minakshisundaresvara and Alagar at Madurai, those of Tenkasi, Sankaranarayanarkoil, Perur and other places are excellent examples of Nayak workmanship.
In the upper layer from the Brihadisvara temple at Tanjavur covering the Chola one, there is a wealth of Nayak painting particularly interesting from the point of view of the glimpse it gives of life in the period with all the elaboration of costume, ornamentation and other details, all easily gathered from this important and elaborate series.
At Tiruparuttikunram and at Kanchipuram, the Jain legends illustrating the lives of the Tirthankaras are portrayed with greater vigour and here also the life of the period is very clearly depicted.
At Tiruvalur, the lilas of Siva are represented on the ceiling of the mandapas in picturesque fashion with special stress on the monkey-faced mythical king Muchukunda of the royal Chola family; and, as legend would have it, it is he who brought the Sivalinga enshrined at Tiruvalur as also the Somaskanda. The latter is amongst the most famous early Chola bronzes.
In Tiruvannamalai, Tiruvottiyur, Tiruvalanjuli and other places, there are similar representations of legends of Siva and scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
At Chidambaram in the large andapa of the shrine of Sivakamasundari, there is a magnificent series of paintings illustrating the story of Bhikshatana and Mohini, the legends of Salva saints and the glory of Siva's dance.
The Nayak period is also represented by several murals from Madurai here the sixty-four lilas of Siva are epicted in picturesque panels narrating the story graphically but many of them have been repainted and ruined.
There are labels in Tamil or Telugu describing the themes of these paintings. In this period, the nventionalization that set in during the Vijayanagara period is continued. This stylisation, as already observed in sculpture, like the pointed nose, fierce eyes, angular contours, limbs and so forth and peculiar arrangement of garments on the body with patterns characteristic of the period, are all observed in these paintings.
Writer - C. Sivaramamurti
The text above the painting identifies it as Gauri Ragini, a wife of Malkos Raga, and describes the dark complexion and beautiful face of the heroine. The text also gives the musical scale of the Ragini. Gauri Ragini is an evening melody of autumn. Its alternate names, Gaudi and Gaudika, suggest that it may have originated in Ganda (West Bengal). Representations of Gauri Ragini in the Rajasthani and, as shown here, Amber traditions typically portray a lady walking in the forest carrying two flower-wands and often accompanied by two peacocks.
This illustration of Gaud Ragini is from the earliest known Ragamala produced at Amber, the capital of the Amber/Jaipur court prior to the founding of Jaipur in 1727. Comparisons with two Amber Ragamalas attributed to about 17oo and with one dated 1709 (Ebeling 1973, pp. 185-87), point to a date of about 168o for this painting, a date first suggested for this series in Spink 1987. Characteristic of Amber/Jaipur painting are the distinctive vertical white swath where the diaphanous robe of the heroine is gathered in front, the personified sun in the sky, and the two Mughal-descended formalized flowering plants in the right middle ground of the painting.
Amber Ragamalas represent a distinct iconographical arrangement within the Rajasthani tradition. They combine the painters system and Hanuman's system with additional innovative variations in imagery (Ebeling 1973). Most Amber Ragamalas are inscribed, as is the present painting, with identifications and descriptive passages from a Hindi text by the poet Paida, which was based on the early seventeenth-century Sanskrit verses of Damodara Misra's Sangiladarpana (Ebeling 1973).
This painting is identified in its upper border as Dhanasri Ragini, leaf number 12 (of the Ragamala). The ragini is a soft and sensual midday melody associated with early winter. In the Rajasthani tradition she is generally regarded as the wife of Dipak Raga and is shown as a lady painting a portrait of her absent lover while attended by maidservants. Occasionally she paints another image, such as the flower here, or writes a couplet. Some representations of Dhanasri Ragini also have a smaller-scale ancillary scene with the beloved lord approaching on horseback.
This illustration of Dhanasri Ragini exemplifies the superb Ragamalas produced by the workshops active in the principality of Sirohi during the late seventeenth century. Brilliant reds and yellows predominate. Figures are animated, and the architecture is detailed and luxurious. The painting appears to be from a set that has been published as dating from about 168o, The treatment of the figures and architecture, the palette and color scheme, and rven the compositional motifs and handwriting style are all identical. The only design difference between this painting and the published Desvarari Ragini belonging to this set is the reversal of the directional order oldie foreground motifs and interior wall colors, a feature that is presumably indicative of the original left-or right-side album page location. Moreover, the set of about 168o is recorded as including a Dhanasri Ragini, number precisely what is inscribed on this painting. Another Sirohi Ragamala set is also known, but it is attributed to a decade later, about 1690, and is coarser in draftsmanship and expression than the earlier set and the present work.
Writer – Janice Leoshko
Hanuman Crouched Low on the slopes of Mount Mahendra, stretching out his tail and fixing his eyes on the horizon. He remembered his father the Wind god and prayed for his protection. Then he vowed, 'Either I shall find Sita or destroy Lanka,' and leaped into the sky.
As he launched himself the mountain shook, sending forth showers of fragrant flowers. Thousands of trees were uprooted and swept into the sky, falling like a carpet of stars into the sea. He flew through the air with his tail out behind him, shining like the sun as he passed in and out of clouds. His eyes blazed and the wind thundered past his ears while far below the sea tossed in his wake, churning up waves as high as mountains.
Wishing to help Hanuman, the Sea god sent the winged mountain Mainaka up from the seabed to give him a resting place. But as the mountain, with its gold-tipped peaks, rose before him, Hanuman simply thrust it aside with his chest. The gods were thrilled at his prowess and wanted to see more of his splendour, so they sent Surasa, mother of the Naga celestial snakes, to test him. She assumed a gigantic form and rose from the ocean in front of Hanuman, with her mouth outstretched to devour him. But Hanuman expanded his size, forcing her to open her mouth wider, then shrank to the size of a thumb to enter and leave her mouth in an instant, and continued on his way.
Next came the sea-demoness Simhika, who had not eaten for years. When she saw Hanuman flying above the sea, she used her magic powers to seize his shadow. Hanuman felt himself' held back by some unseen influence and looked down, seeing Simhika in the sea. He swept down towards her and she tried to swallow him, but he again shrank to nothing and flew into her mouth. Penetrating deep inside her, he burst out through her heart and killed her instantly.
As he neared the island of Lanka, Hanuman saw forests and mountains stretched out below him, and in the distance Mount Trikuta, beside which stood the fabulous city of Lanka, looking like the capital of heaven. He returned to his normal size and touched down safely on the peak of Mount Trikuta. Not even short of breath, he set off through the lush jungle towards the city. Soon he arrived at the edge of the outer moat beneath towering walls and turrets of gold with pennants fluttering in the breeze. He made his way to the northern gate where he saw large numbers of guards and much coming and going. He lay hidden among the trees until darkness fell.
When all was dark he shrank to the size of a cat and sprang over the battlements. By the light of the full moon he followed the main highway into the city. Around him were mansions of' gold inlaid with diamonds and pearls. Deep rumblings, like the distant roar of' the ocean, came from the depths of the city, and here and there bells tinkled. Suddenly he was challenged by a hideous female figure.
'Who are you and what do you want?' she demanded.
'First tell me who you are,' Hanuman replied.
'My name is Lanka, the guardian spirit of this city, and I am aware of all that goes on here. No one can wander about this city without my sanction.'
'It is my wish to see around Lanka and I shall do as I please,' retorted Hanuman.
Not without overcoming me,' she cried, and struck Hanuman on the face. In retaliation he felled her to the ground with a slap.
'Spare me,' she begged. 'I was once told by Brahma that when a monkey enters Lanka and overpowers me, the defeat of' all the rakshasas who live here will soon follow. I give you permission to go wherever you please and assure you that you will accomplish your purpose, and in so doing bring about the destruction of Ravana.'
Hanuman continued on his way. Soon he heard laughter and music and saw on the streets people of all kinds. Some were ugly, others beautiful, some coarse, others refined. He saw scholars and priests, powerful warriors and drunken fools. Naked ascetics with shaven heads muttered malevolent spells and eyed him curiously as he passed, while monstrous demons with deformed features and misshapen bodies guarded doorways along the way, armed with swords, clubs and spears.
After passing many mansions and crossing wide avenues, Hanuman came to the outer gates of Ravana's palace, made of solid gold embellished with precious gems. Inside was a city within a city, filled with mansions of gold and silver, teeming with demons strutting here and there, challenging each other in proud tones, singing boisterously or lying in drunk-en stupor. He also saw noble beings, hand-some and graceful, dressed in finery and shining brightly.
Entering the inner palace, Hanuman passed armed guards mounted on chariots and throngs of courtiers in avenues vibrant with the sound of kettledrums and trumpets. He came upon rakshasa women, some bashful, some alluring all exceptionally beautiful. He looked at them all closely, hoping to find Sita, but saw her nowhere.
He ranged among the houses of Ravana's generals and ministers, and his brothers Kumbhakarna and Vibhisana. He passed Ravana's stables, which housed mighty war elephants and horses of many colours, and then he entered gardens and pleasure grounds resounding with the cries of peacocks and sparkling with heaps of gems.
Finally he reached Ravana's personal residence. Blazing with jewels, it was a palace. of such splendour it seemed as if heaven had come down to earth. In its inner courtyard was moored the fabulous Puspaka airplane, like a mountain, with domes clustered one above another. This was the airplane that Ravana had stolen from Kuvera, the treasurer of the gods, and was his proudest possession. It was built from gold, silver, coral and crystal; yet it hovered weightless above the ground. Hanuman slipped aboard, up stairways of' gems, through pillared halls laid with crystal and lit by emeralds and sapphires. Fountains played in lotus pools surrounded by groves of artificial trees and flowers. The Puspaka was capable of travelling at the speed of mind along cosmic pathways. It was imbued with a mind of' its own, which responded to the thoughts of its commander, who must have exceptional power in order to control it. Hanuman scoured all the chambers and hallways on its many levels, but did not find Sita.
From there he stole into Ravana's private apartments where he saw bevies of' gorgeous women deep in slumber, exhausted from their revelries, their limbs and coverings in disarray. With their heads pillowed on one another's breasts and arms, their garlands and necklaces scattered, and their breath perfumed by fragrant wines, they looked like swans floating on a sea of lotus flowers. Lamps burned dimly, held by sentinels of gold who watched silently over the fair assembly.
In the midst of this scene was a raised bedstead of ivory and gold beneath a white canopy where Ravana slept, fanned by female attendants. His powerful arms, encircled with gold bracelets and flashing with diamonds, revealed the scars of' many battles. Around his bed slept female musicians, still holding their musical instruments in sensuous embrace.
On a richly upholstered bed nearby lay a fair-complexioned woman more gorgeous than the others. At first Hanuman thought her to be Sita, but then he realized this could not be so; Sita would never surrender herself to be enjoyed by Ravana. This woman must be Ravana's queen, Mandodari, who had been given to him as a young girl by her father, the demon Maya. Since then Ravana had carried off thousands of other young girls from the homes of' gods and celestial beings, all of whom were allured by his power and sexual energy. Sita, however, was the one woman who would never submit to his will.
Continuing his search, Hanuman entered the dining hall, where meats such as peacock, rhinoceros and porcupine stood untouched or half-consumed on golden dishes. The floor was scattered with broken cups and bowls amid piles of disordered cushions, pools of juice and half-finished cups of wine.
Leaving the palaces, Hanuman scoured the open spaces surrounding them. He looked among the crowds at crossroads, in narrow lanes, in chasms and ravines, but not seeing Sita anywhere, he began to fear the worst. Perhaps she had fallen into the sea as she was carried to Lanka, or been set upon by the demon women in Ravana's employ, or had died from a broken heart in separation from her lord. In despondency Hanuman decided to hide somewhere and fast to death, his mission having failed.
Just then he came across a grove of ancient ashok trees that he had not noticed before, hidden beneath a wooded hilltop beside Ravana's palace. This was Ravana's private retreat and something told Hanuman it might be the place where he would find Sita. He prayed to Vishnu to give him success, and leaped over the boundary wall. Inside, the trees were thick with flowers and entwined with climbers. As the monkey jumped from one tree to another they scattered their blossoms, covering him with petals so that he looked like the spirit of' spring. Advancing deeper into the grove he found that the trees took on a silver hue, and their flowers became richer and more perfumed. Water tumbled down the hillside into a crystal-clear pool with a white sandy bed sparkling with gems and corals. Around the pool, marble steps descended from among trees of gold that chimed as if with tiny bells in the breeze. Hanuman climbed the tallest tree and peered out from its branches across the moonlit landscape. Nearby was a tree greater and more venerable that all the others. Beneath it he saw a woman seated on the ground dressed in torn unwashed clothes. She was pale and drawn and her face was bathed in tears, but her beauty shone like the moon through a veil of clouds.
Hanuman knew her to be the same woman he had seen carried over Rishyamukha Hill by Ravana, and he recognized the ornaments she wore as matching the ones cast down from the sky to the monkeys that day, and her yellow robe as matching the silk cloth in which they had been wrapped. She must be Sita.
Around her demonesses circled restlessly, hideous in appearance, carrying clubs or spikes. Some had only one eye and misshapen features, some were covered in hair, some were hump-backed or monstrous in size, with heads of goats, camel's feet or donkey's ears. In the midst of these monsters, Sita was weighed down by grief, like a boat sinking beneath its load.
How can such a blameless and exalted soul as Sita be afflicted with so much sorrow?' lamented Hanuman. 'Indeed it is hard to understand destiny. Yet I see she is forbearing as the earth from whom she was born. She does not see the monsters surrounding her, or this heavenly garden. She sees only Rama.
As dawn approached Hanuman heard the distant sound of the sacred hymns of the Vedas being chanted in the city. At Ravana's bedside musicians serenaded him and slowly the great demon stirred, his head heavy with drink. His first thought was of Sita. Although he was powerful beyond measure, Ravana was the slave of passion, and at the moment all his passion was focused on Sita. Dressing and perfuming himself, he set off to the ashok grove followed by a procession of female attendants bearing torches in the early dawn light. As it passed through the glades echoing with birdsong, the procession looked like the progress of the god of love.
Hidden among the branches, Hanuman watched as Ravana approached. As soon as she saw him, Sita huddled up in modesty and shook with fear. Although she was distressed and forlorn, she could not hide her flawless beauty, which shone like the moon through the clouds. Hanuman was amazed to see the mighty Ravana actually prostrate himself full-length on the ground before her.
Have no fear, sweet lady, no other demons lurk here. It is only I, begging for your love,' came Ravana's love-stricken words. 'My soul is ravished by you. Please return my love. It is the habit of us demons to seduce other's wives by force, but I have restrained from this for ten months, waiting for you to willingly give yourself to me.
Your beauty holds me entranced. The creator, after fashioning you, must have retired, having surpassed all else. Though you are covered in torn cloth with your hair in a single plait, you make me forget even my consort Mandodari. My thousands of' other wives will wait upon you. Why do you think only of' Rama, a mere man? He is nothing compared to me. Untold wealth can be yours. Just be minel
Take your mind off me and be satisfied with your nettny wives, Sita responded fiercely. 'You should protect me, not seek to molest me. Your infatuation will destroy your kingdom and all who live in it. I belong to Rama as the sunshine belongs to the sun. You will never have me. Soon Rama will be here with arrows of fire to destroy you. You cannot flee he will find you wherever you are.
It seems, good lady, that the more I speak sweet words to you the more unkind you become. Very well, be warned; you have two months to surrender to me. If you refuse to share my bed after that time, you will be minced up and I will eat you for my breakfast!' These foul words upset many of Ravana's women, whom he had won from among gods or pious families. They tried to reassure Sita with secret glances. But she continued fearlessly.
You have no friends here, otherwise they would advise you that you bring upon yourself your own destruction by stealing another's wife, not to speak of the wife of' Rama. I wonder that your tongue has not fallen out, or your eyes been blinded. I am here for your destruction. Touch me at your peril.' Ravana's face twisted and he raised Ahand to strike Sita, but was restrained by his women, who dragged him away. Sport with us, lord, and havelinthing more to do with this Sita,' they implored. 'Do with her agsi-You will to force her to her senses,' he shouted at those around Sita. Angry and humiliated, he left4Now the demonesses came forward, first cajoling, then taunting, threatening Sita with their weapons.
Don't you know what you are turning down? You have been loyal to your husband, now do the sensible. Ravana has vanquished the entire universe. The thirty-three high gods and even Indra himself are under his sway, and now he wishes to give up his wife Mandodari in favour of you. You are mad to refuse.'
I would like to taste her liver,' snarled one, 'and her heart, too.' 'Why should we wait?' cried another. 'Divide her up now and cook her.' 'I will never be his wife,' Sita retorted. 'I am human, and he is a rakshasa and I will never have anything to do with the monster. You can eat me if you like, I don't care.
Shuddering with emotion she withdrew towards the tree in which Hanuman was concealed. 'I would not touch that despicable Ravana even with my left foot. Why can I not die now? Then I would be shamed no more.
If Rama would come, he would kill Ravana and destroy this entire city. Then it will be you who weep, your husbands dead. He will destroy you all.' an old rakshasa woman, named Trijata, awoke just then. Seeing that the other rakshasas were tormenting Sita, she stopped them.'
Eat one another if you like, but you will never eat her. I have had a dream,' she murmured, 'I saw Rama, dressed in shining white, riding with Sita on a great white elephant. Then I saw Ravana and his brothers, their heads shaven, riding south on mules, laughing hideously. Next I saw a powerful monkey set fire to the city or Lanka which fell crashing into the waves, while the women of the city laughed in madness.
My advice to you is stay away from her and leave this place if you can.
Her companions fell silent and sat down listlessly, not caring enough to argue. Sita crept further into the hollow of the tree beneath Hanuman. Fingering the cord tying her hair, she thought of suicide.
Hanuman desperately wanted to reassure Sita. But how could he do so without frightening her? She would think he was just another of Ravana's tricks. He decided to talk in Sanskrit, the human language spoken in Ayodhya. Softly, he spoke of Rama. 'There was once a mighty emperor in the line of Iksvaku called Dasaratha, who had a son named Rama,' he began, and went on to recite the tale of Rama's exploits up to the time that Sita was carried away.
In search of Sita, Rama and Lakshmana journeyed south where they met with Sugriva, lord of the monkeys. In alliance with him a great search for Sita was begun, bringing me to Lanka where I have at last found her. Even now, Rama is waiting for me to bring back news so that he can rescue her.
In rapture, Sita listened to this mysterious voice, thinking at first it was just a dream. She looked here and there until she caught sight of Hanuman in the tree above her. Was this an apparition? How could a monkey talk, and know all these details of her history?
Writer – Ranchor Prime