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Rama's Coronation Durbar. Pahari kalam (lit. 'pen') by a Kashmir artist, circa first half 19th century. Opaque watercolour with gold on wasli. 23.1 x 15.5cm
In their capital of Ayodhya Rama's Coronation Durbar proceeds. Rama, crowned and nimbate, dressed as is Sita et al in Pahari attire, sits with Sita beneath a umbrella (emblematic or royalty) on a low throne. His brothers Shatrughna, Lakshmana and Bharata as chauri (yak-tail) and morchal (peacock feather) flywhisk bearers) line up beside Sita. Before Rama on a rug or spread beside which is a plethora of ritual implements sits the brahmin priest Vasishta perorming yajna (fire sacrifice), the special significance of this yajna indicated by the "royal" umbrella over the fire. Behind Vasishta are Shiva and Brahma offering respects. At either side from above in the seclusion of the zenana women take in the view. In the foreground adorned with gold, pearls and jewels stands Hanuman and next to him his monster friend. Kneeling are three Muslim dignitaries, an interpolation to Vishnu mythology which may be due to the religious syncretism present in popular Sufi masnavis and poetry but regardless are present almost certainly to indicate Vishnu's and therefore Hinduism's supremacy.
Kashmiri artists plied their trade not only ion their home state but also all over India, especially at sites of pilgrimage. There in the vicinity of the temple they sold quickly produced manuscripts to pilgrims as cheap, affordable souvenirs which later also were placed in domestic shrines for use in meditation and puja. For wealthier patrons they also produced higher quality manuscripts on thin, fine hand-made warqa in the Indo-Persian kalam or individual miniature paintings on thick, stout wasli in the Pahari kalam.
Above: gilt detail reflecting light
Images and text © Peter Blohm