www.IndianMiniaturePaintings.co.uk - The future avatara of Vishnu: Kalki. Shorapur artist at Hyderabad, circa 1872. Opaque watercolour with gold on a "wasli" made from contemporary newspapers. 40 x 47.5cm

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The future avatara of Vishnu: Kalki. Shorapur artist at Hyderabad, circa 1872. Opaque watercolour with gold on a "wasli" made from contemporary newspapers. 40 x 47.5cm

Surrounding the god are the 8 guardians of the cardinal points: Indra on the elephant (left), Agni on the ram (top), Yama on the buffalo (top), Nairriti on a human being (top), Varuna on the makara (right), Vayu on the gazelle (right), Kubera on the horse (bottom), and Ishana (with consort) on Nandi (bottom left). Shiva and Parvati are also shown in the top left corner - possibly meant to be on Mt Kailasa. Probably the person standing in reverent attitude on the left is the commissioner of the painting, a devotee of Vishnu.

Political upheaval in 1858 saw artists from Shorapur migrating to Hyderabad while in Tanjore a new demand for the Anglo-Indian style caused artists originally from Hyderabad to return there. It is thought the two groups of artists may have combined to produce paintings for Hindu patrons wanting mythological scenes for religious purposes rather than to please the senses. The new influx of artists from Tanjore had returned practised in Hindu iconography in a manner already familiar to those from Shorapur leading to the production of very finely detailed compositions densely populated with rigidly icon-like figures in the South Indian manner. A peculiarity of paintings produced there from 1875-1900 is their use of sheets of newspapers pasted together to make a form of wasli, the upper sheet only being made from hand-made or manufactured plain paper. (Sources: 'Paintings of the Hyderabad School', Jagdish Mittal in Deccani Kalams, Marg 1963; Deccani Painting, Chapter 12, Mark Zebrowski, 1983.)

With thanks to the kindness of Prof. Anna Dallapiccola for suggesting identifications for the dramatis personae.

Inventory 001017

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Above, below: raised and tooled gilt detail reflecting light

Images and text © Peter Blohm