Wednesday, 18 November 2015



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Kishangarh is a city and a municipality in Ajmer district in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It was founded by Kishan Singh, a younger brother of Raja Sur Singh of Jodhpur in circa 1609 and is the birth place of the Kishangarh style of paintings, which is known for the beautiful depiction of a courtesan known as Bani Thani. Bani Thani was the mistress of Raja Sawant Singh of Kishangarh in Rajasthan. She was a quintessential Indian beauty with her elongated face with a high forehead, arched eyebrows, half opened eyes, sharp pointed nose, thin curved sensuous lips and a pointed chin over a long narrow neck. The curl of the hair around the ear added to her innate grace. She was the inspiration of the image of Radha of Kishangarh School of paintings. Besides being blessed with natural beauty she was also a talented poetess and singer.

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The Kishangarh School of paintings is clearly distinguished by its individualistic facial type and religious intensity. Kishangarh paintings emerged as a distinctive style in the middle of 18th century under the patronage of Maharaja Sawant Singh. Raja Sawant Singh, the king of Kishangarh, was on the throne during that period. A great patron of art and literature as he was, he composed devotional songs in praise of Radha and Krishna using the pseudonym of Nagari Das. Typical characteristics of Kishangarh paintings are portraits of women with sharp profiles, long necks, slanted eyes and aquiline noses. The colors used are almost jewel-like and green is one of the predominant shades used. Kishangarh is picturesquely situated by a lake and its fort and palace overlook the waters. Artists of this school have beautifully depicted palace, fort, lake, bridges, gardens and Kishangarh town in the background of their paintings.

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The rulers of Kishangarh worshipped lord Krishna. So many painters of this school portrayed lord and his consort, Radha. However, while in other Folk Paintings, the couple is usually depicted in the forest, Kishangarh paintings always show Radha and Krishna in their palace or court. Kishangarh style of painting occupies a significant position in relation to Rajasthani paintings. In the developed state of the Marwar School the Kishangarh style had acquired its unique and glorious position in the realm of Rajasthani painting after having ascended to the pinnacle of glory in the time of Maharaja Sawant Singh. Bhavani Das was a renowned painter who developed a style that bloomed during the reign of Maharaja Sawant Singh.

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The Kishangarh style has its own combination of colors. To express tender sentiments of Radha-Krishna artists often used light colors. The principal colors were white, rose, cream and deep red. The Kishangarh style possesses some distinct features which maintain its unique identity. Drawings of limbs of males and females, colorful paintings of nature, illustrations of themes connected with the Radha-Krishna cult are some distinct features of this style. Male figures are tall, of attractive physique with blue aura-like bunch as of hair, elevated turbans, with strings of pearls in white or blue, symmetrically developed forehead, thin lips and wide and attractive eyes stretched to the ears like khanjan birds are some unique features of the Kishangarh style. Female figures are fair in complexion, and their wide eyes are adorned with kohl. The natural perspective of Kishangarh and Roopangarh was endowed with lakes, mountains, gardens and various birds.

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Kishangarh style of paintings was basically a fusion of Mughal and regional style. The most common theme of this style consisted of the depiction of the love between lord Krishna and Radha. With the demise of Maharaja Sawant Singh and his leading artists, this school lost its glory and started breaking down. By and by the eternal quality of the Kishangarh style began to lose its distinct character. Its deterioration began to be visible in paintings in the reign of Prithvi Singh (1840-1880). After this period, the Kishangarh style was lost in oblivion..

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