Tuesday, October 8, 2019



 RAJA BALWANT SINGH OF JASROTA KINGDOM OF JAMMU HUNTING ..Painting by Nainsukh ( Nain Sukh Raina )..1752 AD.

Procured in 1957 , this painting bears Museum Accession No 1957.98. This Painting is on display at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Harvard University Art Museums. The details convey as under :

"This scene takes place on the scenic banks of the river Tawi in the state of Jammu in northern India. Wearing a dark green Jama, Raja Balwant Singh, king of Jasrota, leans forward with a sword in one hand to defend his elephant from an attacking lion. The scene is packed with intense action, all the retainers on foot and on horseback rushing forward to help. The mahout elephant trainer is poised to push the elephant goad into the head of the lion. The sparse setting gives little clue to the foreground violence: the landscape is bare, dotted with just a few Palash trees. The chaotic scene is witnessed by a distant hawk, who circles through the sky above. Nainsukh was one of the most famous artists working in the Hills. Raja Balwant Singh of Jasrota commissioned numerous portraits from Nainsukh, ranging from scenes of state audiences and royal hunts to intimate moments in the life of the ruler."

During my visit to Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, I was told by an official of the Museum :-

“ You may find some Nain Sukh painting in this museum .Nain Sukh’s work is rare and a part of the world heritage . His work is distinct in its features. Nain Sukh is believed to be of a Kashmiri Brahmin ancestry .”

Nainsukh or Nain Sukh Raina is known as a pictorial biographer of Raja Balwant Singh of Jasrota ( near present day kathua in Jammu ) . Raja Balwant Singh died in 1763 AD, thereafter Nain Sukh left Jasrota and moved to nearby Basholi kingdom ruled by Raja Amrit Pal at that point of time.

Sir Lawrence Gowing in his Book ‘A HISTORY OF ART’ Published in 1983 writes :-

“ Nain Sukh’s elder brother Manaku was employed as a Darbaar artist of Raja Amrit Pal. Manaku had done paintings illustrating Geet Govinda .Manaku’s early style showed the influence of the Basholi tradition but it began to change under the Influence of his brother Nain Sukh who was undoubtedly the finest painters of the period and who was responsible for introducing elements from Mughal Naturalism in the hills .It is not known how Nain Sukh received training in the Mughal idiom but his accurate portraits , his compositions and arrangements of different figures , and his colors and drawings all show an intimate knowledge of the technique perfected by Mughal artists especially those associated with Muhhamad Shah ( 1719-1748 AD ) . While being affected by Mughal art , the individual style could not for a moment be mistaken for that Mughal work . Nain Sukh moved to Basholi after the death of his patron Raja Balwant Singh . This important event marks a radical change in the paintings of Basholi from mannered paintings of pure warm colors to new lyrical and graceful naturalism . His father Sieu Raina originally from Kashmir , had settled in Guler.”

( Avtar Mota )

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