|And their Paintings|
|Self portrait of Kehar Singh-the court painter of Maharaja Ranjit Singh|
|Giani Gurmukh Singh, Head Priest of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, by Kehar Singh|
|A juggler with two bears by Kapur Singh|
|An Oil extractor by Kehar Singh|
|Women cooking in tandoor by Kehar Singh|
|A couple Telis extracting Oil - by Kehar Singh|
|Kapur Singh of Kapurthala, son of Kishan Singh, was a quickwitted man who learnt painting (in western techniques) merely from observation and turned out a good number of paintings in oil in western style. He was also the first photographer in the Punjab|
|A Duck by Kapur Singh|
|A Hawk by Kapur Singh|
|A pandit (astrologer) by Kapur Singh|
|Bawa (1850?- 1925), whose full name is not known, was the traditional painter in the Punjab, who remained completely uninfluenced by the fast rising wave of westernism, and painted in the true Kangra spirit.|
|Bishan Singh (1836-1900?). Kishan Singh's brother, Bishan Singh too worked in the same style as his brother. But he devoted his skill entirely to decorating floral motifs on the walls of Golden Temple.|
|Ishar Singh Mahant (1860-1910?) was the son of Bhai Ram Singh Mussavar, worked in Kangra style and decorated the walls of a great many Hindu temples of Amritsar|
|Jaimal Singh (1860-1916?) was a traditional Sikh painter-cum muralist. His murals (in Kangra Sikh Style) can be seen in Baba Atal, Amritsar|
|Malla Ram (1865?-1925) was a bazaar school painter of Amritsar. He specialised in stage painting and was popular in Kapurthala and Amritsar.|
|Mehtab Singh (1871-1937?) was a desciple of Jaimal Singh and worked in Sikh Style. He adorned the walls of Baba Atal in Amritsar, Baba Bakala and many a Hindu temple with murals|
|Hari Singh (1894-1970) was born in 1894 at Amritsar in a family which has been famous for building architecture, designing and decoration. After a smattering of education at school he started learning painting. He secured a job with Maiden Theatre, Calcutta, as a scene setting artist, and worked for four years. Hari Singh was one of Malla Ram's desciples. His earlier work reminds of frescoes which can be seen even today on the walls and ceiling of the residences of aristocrats in Italy. It is very unfortunate that there exists no specimen of this type of work done by Hari Singh. The Royal Talkie at Amritsar, where he executed his best work, was set ablaze during the communal riots of 1947. He was an adept in architectural and ornamental lines of painting. His studio was at Tali Sahib, Amritsar. He died in 1970|
|Portrait of Guru Gobind Singh by Baba Kishan Singh ( see previous page)-the first Sikh painter to work in modified Kangra style, which later came to be known as Sikh Style. His work is significant as it marks thje beginning of Sikh school of painting. Kishan Singh followed the traditional Pahari pattern of portrait painting, but it is marked by a strong provincial character.|
|Guru Parkash - This large size painting can be seen in Gurdwara Ramsar and is the work of Bishan Singh, Principal of Amritsar School of Arts. The figures of the ten Gurus and their followers are cleverly arranged in this composition|
|TEN GURUS - This painting done by Puran Singh Mussavar, and a specimen of Sikh School has no special merit. About 16" by 12", painted in bright colours on machine made paper. At present this work is in the collection of Govt. Museum, Chandigarh.|
|Portrait of Maharaja Ranjit Singh by Sardul Singh, a bazaar painter of Amritsar.|
|Sri Ram , a very talented painter of Punjab|
|Lord Rama eating the bers of Bheelni. Painting by Sri Ram|
|Martyrdom of Guru Arjan - by Sri Ram|
The following articles are with courtesy of Dr. M.S.Randhawa, the great ART Critic, from his book "Indian Miniature Painting", which lay a paving stone for the Punjab Paintings.
AT GULER, The Kangra artists developed a style, which breathed a new spirit. It reached a new level of rhythmical exaltation at Kangra. Under 'Maharaja Sansar Chand, Kangra painting achieved a delicate and romantic touch. Sansar Chand, the greatest patron of painting in the Punjab Hills, was born in 1766 at Bijapur, a small village in Palampur, now in Himachal Pradesh. When Sansar Chand ascended the throne in 1776, he was only ten years of age. The Sikhs were extending their power towards the hills. Sansar Chand raised a large army and gradually annexed all the neighbouring Rajput states.
In 1786, the Sikh leader Jai Singh surrendered the Kangra Fort to Sansar Chand, who was then twenty years of age, in lieu of territory in the plains. A place impregnable to the armies and artillery of those days, the possession of the Kangra Fort meant control over the neighboring territory, thereby justifying the proverb: 'he who holds the Kangra Fort holds the hills.
period 1786-18O5 was a glorious chapter in the history of Kangra. Sansar Chand
established law and order in the valley, and subdued the unruly hill chieftains.
He encouraged art and crafts and there was a spurt of building activity. He
settled at Tira-Sujanpur goldsmiths, blacksmiths, carpenters and weavers who
were experts in carpet making.
Sansar Chand, himself a great builder, constructed a palace at Alampur and laid a garden which rivalled the Shalimar garden at Lahore. The ruins of the garden are impressive even today and justify the appellation 'the city of gardens', by which Alampur is still known in the hills. In the early part of his reign, Sansar Chand resided in the Amtar Palace near Nadaun, on the left bank of the river Beas, which had been the ancient seat of the family after the loss of Kangra Fort to the Mughals.
|Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra attended by O'Brien, 1810 AD|
He vastly improved the town of Tira-Sujanpur, which served as his capital. He also extended the palace at Tira. Tira-Sujanpur is a place of great beauty. Situated on the right bank of the Beas, it is built around an open space, and commands a grand view of the Dhauladhar, the snow-covered mountain range.
In 1809, Sansar Chand employed O'Brien, an Irishman and a deserter from the forces of the East India Company, who established a small arms factory, and raised a disciplined force of 1400 men for whom he designed a Georgian uniform. We see him in attendance upon Sansar Chand, waving a chauri, or a fly-whisk.
From 1810 onwards, after the loss of the Kangra Fort to Maharaja Ranjit Singh,
Sansar Chand led a retired life at Nadaun and Alampur. He spent his time listening
to music, watching dance performances, playing chess and appreciating paintings.
Apart from his three queens, he married a beautiful shepherd girl whom he
had seen while hunting below the Dhauladhar mountain range. Frustrated in
his ambitions, he spent his last days in the company of a dancing girl Jamalo,
in the palace at Nadaun, overlooking the Beas. In 1820, Moorcroft, an English
traveller, met him at Alampur. He mentions that Sansar Chand was fond of drawing,
had many artists in his employ, and that he possessed a large collection of
|Krishna bringing calves home, an illustration to the Bhagavat-Purana -1790 AD|
The Bhagavata-purana begins with the Arcadian boyhood of Krishna in the forests and countryside of Gokul and Brindavan, which are situated in the flat and uninteresting alluvial plains of Uttar Pradesh. The Kangra artists, however, painted the anecdotes of the Bhagavata-purana against the background of their native hills. We see Krishna driving a herd of cows to the village. Some of the cowherds are teasing the monkeys one of which, with an uplifted tail, is growling back. The rest of the monkeys seek shelter in the trees. In the river can be seen fishes and a 'tortoise and on the bank, a frog. The painting conveys a feeling of rural calm and beauty
There is another painting showing Krishna feasting in the forest. Krishna and his friends are seated in a circle. They are eating out of cups made of leaves and enjoying their food. Such leaf-cups are still used in the valley when large communal feasts are held and are thrown away after use.
|Feast in the forest, an illustration to the Bhagavat-Purana. 1780 AD|
|Encircling the island on which Krishna is seated is a river. In this charming painting can be experienced the idyllic beauty of the countryside of the Kangra valley. It also conveys the restful setting of a composition in a circle.|
Keshav Das classifies nayikas or heroines of ancient Indian literature in his Rasikapriya into eight categories, according to their situation and their relationships with their lovers. Of these, the khandita nayika is more sinned against than sinning. Her husband has spent the night away from home with another woman, and she reproaches him bitterly when he returns in the morning. We reproduce a painting of the Khandita Nayika. The lover is shown entering the courtyard of his home, with guilt written all over his face. The rising sun in the background indicates that it is early dawn. While the lover was enjoying himself with the other woman, his wife did not have a wink of sleep. She is angry and is upbraiding him for his conduct
A text which was a great favourite with the Rajput painters was Sat Sai, composed by the poet Bihari. A famous series was painted for Sansar Chand. A painting from this series is in the collection of the National Museum, New Delhi
|Khandita Nayika, an illustration to Keshav Das's Rasikpriya. 1780 AD|
|Krishna enchanted, an illustration to Bihari's Sat Sai. 1780 AD|
Krishna, standing under a tree, suddenly sees Radha seated in a pavilion. At the sight of his beloved, Krishna loses all consciousness; his flute, his yellow wrap and his garland of wild flowers fall to the ground and he stands transfixed like a statue.
There is a Ragamala in the Kangra style, which was painted at Tira--Sujanpur under Sansar Chand's patronage.
|From this series we reproduce a painting of Ragini Sandhuri. . A group of women are swimming in a lake, supported by empty pitchers. Their clothes lie in a heap on the hillside and as they frolic in the water they also display their physical charms. This is how Ragini Sandhuri, a wife of Raja Hindol, is represented in Kangra painting . Feminine beauty is highly idealized in these paintings.|
|Ragini Sandhuri, a Ragmala painting, 1870 AD|
|Ragini Vasanti expresses joy at the advent of spring. Plum blossoms are the harbingers of spring in the Kangra valley. Amidst the yellow and white blossoms of the trees is shown a pair of girls plucking flowers on the banks of a river. There is rhythm and movement in this charming painting .|
|Ragini Vasanti, Kangra 1780 AD|
SIKH PAINTING IS a direct offshoot of the Kangra School of painting. In 1810 Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839) occupied Kangra Fort and appointed Sardar Desa Singh Majithia as his Governor of the Punjab Hills. In 1813 the Sikh army occupied Haripur Guler and Raja Bhup Singh became a vassal of Sikh power. With the Sikh kingdom of Lahore becoming the paramount power, some of the Pahari painters from Guler migrated to Lahore to enjoy the patronage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his Sardars. Among these painters was Nikka, third son of Nain Sukh, who had for some time worked at Chamba. He received a grant of land from Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1825. Gokal, Chhaju, Harkhu and Damodar were other artists who worked for Sikh patrons. Chhaju painted portraits of the Sikh nobles and Kashmiri Brahmins who were employed as high officials by the Lahore darbar.
|The Sikh school of painting is the adaptation of the Kangra kalam to Sikh needs and ideals. Its main subjects are the ten Sikh gurus and anecdotes from the Janam Sakhi. The tenth guru, Gobind Singh, left a deep impression on the adherents of the new faith because of his reckless bravery and unparalleled sacrifices. He is depicted riding a spirited horse, with a bow slung over his shoulders, a true ideal of the people of the Punjab . Sometimes he is depicted sitting on a throne. In a group portrait by a Guler artist, his four sons, Ajit Singh, Jujhar Singh, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh are seated on the ground before him.|
|Guru Gobind Singh on horse back, 1810 AD|
The following extract is taken from "Painting in Pakistan" by courtesy of Ijaz-ul-Hassan, which details some aspects of Punjab Painting.
PUNJAB PAHARI PAINTING
|The main source of inspiration for Kangra painting was the Vaishnav cult of Hinduism, the love of Radha and Krishna. The Punjab Pahari paintings express the passionate love of Radha and Krishna conceived as the symbol of all union. The Kangra artists, however, depict the incidents from Krishna's life against the background of their native land.|
|Kangra: Udhav & the Gopis, C1780|
|The Punjab Pahari painting draws heavily from the technique and conventions of the Mughal School. One tends to agree with A. R. Chughtai when he asserts in his Lahore Ka Dabistan-e-Musavari, that the paintings of Gita Govinda, Rasa Manjri, Rukamni, Nal De-med and Naika are mostly the work of Lahore and Delhi artists who, in order to paint religious subjects, merely change the Mughal princes and princesses into Radha, Krishna, Ram Lakchman, and Shiva Parbati. It is true that Baba Nanda is depicted like a Mughal courtier and that Radha and the Gopis are wearing Mughal costumes and have a close bearing and resemblance to the ladies of the Mughal court. In fact the entire romantic text of the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and of Radha and Krishna seems to have been pictorialised in the forms derived from Mughal painting.|
|The profusion of marble, the Mughal architectural style of buildings, palaces, pavilions and forts; the manner of rendering water, sky, clouds, trees, vines, flowers and tendrils, and the decorative arabesque and grill-work are typical of Mughal painting. But it is also true that while applying the conventions of Mughal painting, the artist added feeling and atmosphere which are romantic, informal and full of charm, contrary to the formal objectivity of the Imperial Mughal minia-tures.|
|Lahore School: Rishis outside a Hut in Forest, 1830AD|
Whereas in the best Mughal miniatures the artist attempts to faithfully observe and record the tangible facts of life, the Pahari paintings express the spiritual, emotional and imaginative inner-life through stylised gestures and moods of nature.
Painting during the Sikh Period
Sansar Chand remained the paramount power in the southeastern part of the hill states for over two decades. In 1806 the Gurkhas invaded Kangra and wrested the crucial fortress of Kangra from the Katoch ruler. Sansar Chand appealed to the Sikhs but the intervention under Ranjit Singh (1792-1839) merely brought about a change in the controlling power from the Curkhas to the Sikhs. The establishment of Sikh hegemony prepared the way for, "the Sikh influence to permeate painting style, and bring about diffusion of intent in both subject-matter and in presentation". During this period, when Ranjit Singh had established his suzerainty in the Punjab and restored law and order in the region, a number of painters migrated to Lahore.
vestige of Mughal painting was still being practised at Lahore at the dawn of
Sikh rule. Painters continued to maintain their quarters in the Lahore Fort
where Ranjit Singh was also in residence. The ar-rival of the Pahari painters
enriched painting at Lahore with the achievements of Kangra School, which was
stylistically close to the tradition of painting being practised at Lahore.
It is ironic that the Mughal style, which had helped Kangra Kalam to evolve in a particular manner should now in turn try to emulate the style of Kangra. In the beginning the main subjects of painting were the ten Sikh Gurus and anecdotes from Janam Sakhi. The Sikh royalty and nobles were fond of having their portraits painted. They liked to be painted riding a spirited horse or seated on a chair. Events from Ramayana, Mahabharata and the legends of Krishna as well as the festival of spring (Holi) were also painted in miniature and mural forms. Hunting scenes and battle scenes were also popular. The painting during the Sikh period has a ruthless vitality and expressive power, characteristic of the period and the people.
|Allah Ditta, Abduction of Sita, Late 19th century|
|Haji Mohd. Sharif: Shah Alam Badshah (Undated)|
Darbar comprised of a motley crowd of adventurers and upstarts, of warriors
and physicians, of comptrollers and generals, of Dogras, Sikhs, Muslims and
Hindus. The Sikh portraits and Darbar paintings there-fore, unlike the Pahari
portraits, present characters that have no royal lineage. The Sikh miniatures
portray people and events with raw realism and express emotions in an unabashed
expressive manner-so different from the classical Mughal and sedate art of Kangra,
which further enlarged the scope of subject and style of painting. Besides Lahore,
painting was also patronised at other places during the Sikh and post-Sikh period,
for instance, Kapurthala, Amritsar, Patiala, Jind and Nabha.
The late Ustad Haji Mohammad Sharif who settled in Lahore in 1945 originally belonged to Patiala where his father Basharatullah was a well-known court painter of the state. His grandfather, Allah Ditta was also a prominent painter of his time. While his father and grandfather practised the Pahari style, Ustad Haji Mohammad Sharif worked in the Mughal tradition. This maybe because Haji Mohammad Sharif received part of the introductory training from Ustad Mirza Rukh who belonged to Delhi and had acquired the Mughal style of painting.