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Folio from a Rasikapriya: 'To play the game as women long'. Malwa, circa 1660. Opaque watercolour with gold on wasli. 22.8 x 16.7cm
Provenance: the private collection of the Swiss artist and pioneering scholar in the field of Indian art history, Dr Alice Boner (1889-1981)
From ‘The Rasikapriya of Keshavadasa’, Tr. K P Bahadur, Motilal Barnarsidass, Delhi, 1972:
Why so you on my bosom, friend?
if you must touch, then touch his (Krishna’s) breasts
For whom desire in you is strong:
If you have come me to caress
Then play the game as women long!
Dear playmate! why with passion swayed
You clasp me so, time and again?
Why not your lover fond, embrace,
Who waiting for you nigh does stand? (p.74)
In a note to the above (p.84) Bahadur says that a nayika’s female companion’s role is to help her to meet her lover and to talk about matters of love, but such talk when conducted during separation of nayaka-nayika may arouse her passion to such an extent that for that moment the nayika turns instead to her companion in order to satiate her desire.
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Images and text © Peter Blohm