Arshia Sattar
Epic Tales From Ancient India: Paintings From The San Diego Museum Of Art by Marika Sardar San Diego Museum of Art, 2017, 160 pp., price not stated
November 2017, volume 41, No 11

In conjunction with a travelling exhibition from its collection, the San Diego Museum of Art has compiled a lavish volume of medieval Indian paintings. Most of these are from what we call the Mughal period but not necessarily from the Mughal court. Strongly represented in the volume are the Rajasthani and Pahari schools of painting which flourished in various small kingdoms in what are now the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Each school has a distinctive style and uses particular colours, but the paintings in this volume are united by their primary subject matter. The first two sections of the book deal with well-known and beloved stories from the Indian epic tradition. Most commonly, the paintings represent scenes from the Bhagavata Purana which details the life of Krishna, his exploits and his miracles, and scenes from the Ramayana. As such, the religious paintings from the north and north-west regions of the subcontinent that we see here are firmly located within the Vaishnava bhakti tradition.

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