Launch of Rajasthani Miniatures: The Magic of Strokes and Colours
This book reflects the uniqueness of Rajasthani art, where shades and strokes come together in what almost appears as a divine interplay to create magic.
New Delhi, July 13, 2018: The book was launched at Seminar Hall II & III, India International Centre, New Delhi in the presence of Shri Kaptan Singh Solanki (Hon’ble Governor of Haryana), Dr B.R Mani (Director General, National Museum Institute), Dr Sachchidananda Joshi (Member Secretary, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts) & Prof Arun Kumar Pujari (Vice Chancellor, Central University of Rajasthan) at 6:30 p.m.
After the welcome speech, Dr Daljeet began the discussion on her book Rajasthani Miniatures, The Magic of Strokes and Colours with a detailed PowerPoint presentation. To everyone’s pleasant surprise, she spoke in Hindi and roused the audience with her enthusiasm as she shed light on the interesting discoveries she had made while researching for her book. For instance, while all Rajasthani miniature paintings seem similar in some aspects, there are independent and distinct schools of Rajasthani paintings: Mewar, Deogarh, Bikaner, Kishangarh, Jaipur, and many more. All these schools were established under the patronages of different rulers. The patrons were often presented with portraits, thereby also serving as historical records of their reign. And art was not restricted by religious boundaries: Rajasthani rulers were often dressed in Mughal style as the painter would be a Muslim, or Hindu gods and goddesses (Saraswati and Ganesha) would be painted in Jain style as the painter would be a follower of Jainism. While love scenes of Radha-Krishna and raasleela frequently feature in the paintings, the legend of Meera which hardly finds mention in Rajasthani folk literature, is distinctly recognised in the miniatures. More of such interesting anecdotes were shared by the author to pique the audience’s interest.
Dr Daljeet’s speech was followed by that of Dr Sachidananda Joshi. He began by addressing the work as a ‘remarkable book’ which has come ‘in the right spirit about Rajasthan—as colourful’. He claimed that, as museums and historical monuments do not allow photographs to be taken and extensively researched, this book could be used by scholars and students for academic research on the subject of Rajasthani paintings. ‘Dr Daljeet has not only written this book, but she has lived this book,’ praised Dr Joshi. He also thanked Niyogi Books for their endeavour.
Then spoke Prof. Arun Kumar Pujari. Having claimed to have read the book twice, he said, ‘This can serve as an excellent textbook if the universities would start a course on this subject,’ as it explains the basic aspects of the study of Rajasthani paintings: the different schools and styles, the histories of each, the definition of ‘style’, and much more. ‘This book is a single thread connecting the different schools of Rajasthani paintings’—was his careful observation; ‘It is not just a collection of paintings. It is itself a work of art, translating the author’s thoughts and ideas into printed words, and the author herself is no less than an artist’—were his appraising words.
Last but not the least; spoke the honourable chief guest of the evening, the Governor of Haryana, Prof. Kaptan Singh Solanki. He began by drawing our attention to the uniqueness of the book in its nature. He observed that India is a nation recognised by its cultural identity before its political identity, and that art serves to preserve a nation’s heritage and culture, and that this book is a successful endeavour in the same stream. He drew reference to Raja Ravi Verma and his body of work in the literature of paintings, and how he changed the image of India in the eyes of the rest of the world. It was his paintings that Swami Vivekananda took with him to Chicago to represent the real India. Thus, Prof. Solanki claimed, that Rajasthani Miniatures, The Magic of Strokes and Colours represents not only Rajasthan in the right spirit, but the entire nation, and serves to maintain India’s cultural identity in the world.
A large bulk of Indian miniature paintings comes from Rajasthan. These miniatures are endowed with warm colours, primitive vigour, directness of expression and all that corresponds to the unique land of Rajasthan. They encompass its fun and festivities, the charming women and heroic men who fought with valour, loved with great zeal and warmth, celebrated each inch of life and died like great heroes. The major schools of miniatures of Rajasthan are Mewar, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Jaipur, Alwar, Bundi, Kotah, Kishangarh and Nathdwara. The Rajasthani painter saw hardly any contradiction in combining romance with religion, or the mundane with the transcendental. Rajasthani Miniatures: The Magic of Strokes and Colours presents, through a detailed narrative and exquisite photographs, a glimpse into this art that has spanned several millenia. It traces the stylistic sources of Rajasthani miniatures, discovering elements that go beyond geography and time to reveal Rajasthani art’s generic growth. The miniatures have varying styles, belong to different schools and have been painted under many succeeding patrons with different tastes and preferences.
Art historian and archaeologist, former curator and head of the Department of Painting in the National Museum, New Delhi, Dr Daljeet is now Consultant, Sports Authority of India (SAI), New Delhi, engaged in its museum project. Her books on Malwa and Mughal, Deccan and Tanjore Paintings, Sikh Heritage and Indian Monuments have been widely acclaimed by scholars and art connoisseurs. Her catalogues include Ramayana in Indian Miniatures, Divines and Mortals, Indian Art: From Indus to Recent Times and Tanjore and Mysore Schools of Paintings. Dr Daljeet has curated several national and international exhibitions—the exhibition on Sikh heritage at Anandpur Sahib, commissioned by the Government of Punjab in 1999, is among them. She was invited to set up the Pratibha Art Gallery and Museum at Amravati, Maharashtra, in 2012 for the former President of India, Pratibha Devisingh Patil. Awarded the Senior Curatorial Fellowship Award in 2008 by the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC she was also jointly given the Delhi State Award—Vishist Kriti Samman—for 2002–03 with Professor PC Jain for their book in Hindi, titled Raga se Viragtak.
Niyogi Books, with over 400 titles to their credit, and recognised for its high-quality illustrated books on a range of subjects, from art and photography to heritage, culture and history, has bagged many awards at national and international levels in book printing. These include the “Best Art Book 2014” by the Federation of Indian Publishers, the “Best Tea Book” by Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2014 and the prestigious “Best Ethnic Textiles Book 2016”, from R L Shep Book Award, Textile Society of America.Niyogi Books has been at the forefront in recognising, encouraging and promoting both new talent and eminent writers in the field of book writing.