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Nath yogis at camp with huqqa and fire. Anglo-Indian school at Delhi, circa 1835. Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on wasli, 4 additional folios with description in Urdu, the finely written text by Muhammad Bakhsh. Folio 20 x 33.3cm; image 12 x 17.5cm. Mounted/matted.
This folio and accompanying pages of text are from an album of 'castes and occupations' bound in the Islamic style - which for readers of European scripts has its first page where the last would normally be expected, with each line of text running right to left. Illustrations are a hybrid of Indian painting traditions and European traditions: vibrant colour and precise detail with naturalistic shading and prespective. These were further combined with the artist's ability to capture individual character traits with at standard of skill approaching those produced for Col. James Skinner in 1825, and it is thought the artist here may have been influenced by that particular Skinner album.
Page 1: The rubric surkhi ( lit. 'that which is red') reads: ahwaal darveshaan jogee ba izhaar amrat nath jogee (conditions of the jogi dervishes as expressed by Amrit Nath Jogee). As the last name of the respondent suggests, the text deals with jogis/yogis of the Nath sampradaya. It contains references to Adi Nath (who has been identified with Shiva or Shiv ji), Macchendranath, Gorakhnath, Chaurangi Naath, the 84 siddhas and even Brahma, Vishnu, Ganesha and Parvati. The text also contains references to the shape-shifting, fish-aspect of Machhendranath (mayaroopi macchandarnath and meen machhandar).
Pages 2 - 8: information on request
My thanks go to Tarun Pant who kindly translated and summarised the text.
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Above: 1st accompanying page of text
Images and text © Peter Blohm