The Mahabharata: Mewari Miniature Paintings (1680–1698) Vol 1-4

The Mahabharata: Mewari Miniature Paintings (1680–1698) Vol 1-4 Book

The Mahabharata: Mewari Miniature Paintings (1680–1698) Vol 1-4

By Alok Bhalla

Category: Art books
ISBN: 978-81-964053-5-9
MRP: 12000

Allah Baksh’s magnificent miniature paintings of Vyasa’s great epic, the
Mahabharata, were commissioned by Udaipur’s Maharana Jai Singh, and
painted between 1680 and 1698. The selection of nearly 2000 paintings,
published in four volumes, are from a folio of more than 4000 extant works
illuminating the Mahabharata. The fifth volume of 500 paintings devoted to the
Gita, has already been published.

These radiant miniatures, which follow almost every story in every chapter
of the Mahabharata, have no precedent in India’s art tradition. The emphasis in
these paintings is not on heroic posturing and spiritual pride, but on the pain
that the earth and its creatures endure when human beings tragically fail to
fulfil their dharma. The images in the paintings are symbolically charged, their
colours are clear and luminous, their lines are restrained and precise. Allah
Baksh’s art of visionary thoughtfulness deserves an honoured place in the great
library of Indian scriptures and their visual interpretations.

Introductions to the parvas illuminated in these four volumes offer reflections
on the moral resonance of the stories, as they reveal the fate of a civilisation
from its divine beginning to its fateful destruction. The Hindi translation
of the Mewari text in the colophons, describing the story being illustrated,
furthers our understanding of the history of cultural exchange between the
different religions, regions and languages of India. Comments on the paintings
in English enable the reader to decode the images and follow the narrative
grandeur of this great Indian epic.

Size: 242mm x 175mm
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