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A beautiful young lady offers a prince water. Bundelkhand, circa 1770-80. Opaque watercolour with gold on wasli. 33.4 x 23.7cm
This subjectof a prince on horseback stopping to ask to drink at a village well with unattended village girls filling pots with water was popular in Mughal and Rajput painting. Its appeal came from the romantic/erotic overtones of girls alone with a handsome stranger of heroic bearing whose request causes one to immodestly cross the line from acceptable behaviour by in this instance the intimate act of pouring water directly into his mouth, causing one of her companions holds her finger to mouth in a stock expression of shock.
I would like to express my gratitude to Tarun Pant who kindly informed me of a painting in Baroda Museum which is described as being probably inspired by the story of Mohna Rani and Chel Batao in a poem written in 1685 by Mohammad Akram.
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Above: gilt detail catching light
All images and text © Peter Blohm