INDIA | MANDI

The Goddess Kali 
Attributed to Sajnu
North India, Mandi
c. 1810
Opaque watercolors heightened with gold on paper

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The Goddess Kali 
Attributed to Sajnu
North India, Mandi
c. 1810
Opaque watercolors heightened with gold on paper
12 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (31.8 x 24.2 cm.)

The goddess depicted in a classical stance after her killing spree, the third eye surmounts her tongue struck out in between protruding fangs, clad in a belt of decapitated hands and a necklace of severed heads as jagged hair runs down her shoulders. The manifestation of destruction and barrenness is seen brandishing a curved sword (kharga), holding a decapitated head, with a foot over Shiva’s body. Jackals and vultures surround the scene smelling death in the blood-saturated air. The illustration is centered in an octagonal medallion, the spandrels embellished with gold scrolling foliate tendrils, in black borders with scrollwork, wide pink margins containing further depictions of her emanations, cusped cartouches above and below with a vulture and a rat.
The distinctive elaborate margins of this work with cusped cartouches containing attendants of Kali and associated animals are similar to those found on a painting of Raja Isvari Sen of Mandi worshipping Shiva attributed to artist Sajnu, (W.G. Archer, Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, London, 1973, fig. 46, p. 275).

An Illustration to the Hamir Hath: Hamir consults with his advisors while his archers hold the fort
Attributed to Sajnu
North India, Mandi
c. 1810 
Gouache heightened with gold on prepared paper

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An Illustration to the Hamir Hath: Hamir consults with his advisors while his archers hold the fort
Attributed to Sajnu
North India, Mandi
c. 1810 
Gouache heightened with gold on prepared paper
Folio: 14 5/8 x 19 7/8 in. (37 x 50.5 cm.) 
Image: 12 5/8 x 17 3/4 in. (32 x 35 cm.)

The Chauhan ruler Hamir speaking to his minister Jaja and his daughter Devala while Mahi ma consults with other courtiers within the walls of the Ranthambore fort, Hamir’s archers battle with Alauddin Khilji’s horsemen, Alauddin is depicted seated in a tented encampment with his men and European soldiers in brimmed top hats above, the names of figures inscribed in white and red devanagari script. Within white rules, narrow blue inner and red outer borders, with 811 of black and red devanagari script on reverse describing the scene, the fly-leaf with folio number ’16’ in black ink and bearing the royal Mandi library stamp, mounted.
The Rajasthani ballad, Hamir Hath (‘Pride of Hamir’) composed by the bard Sarangdhar, relates the story of Raja Hamir Dev, the heroic but arrogant Chauhan ruler of Ranthambore, who battled with Alauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi. This painting is closely related to a set of twenty-one illustrations to a Hamir Hath series, which were painted by Sajnu in 1810 as a present for Raja lsvari Sen of Mandi. Sajnu presented these to the Mandi ruler after having left Kangra and his former patron Sansar Chand. The tale of Hamir is strikingly similar to that of Sansar Chand, the despotic ruler of Kangra. It involves the siege of an obdurate ruler in a vast fortress surrounded by dizzy precipices, quite like the Kangra fort with a disastrous end.
Stylistic characteristics in the painting which are reminiscent of Sajnu include the zigzag geometrical composition, the ‘jigsaw-puzzle’ rocks, the floral motifs of the carpets, and the juxtaposition of the bright colours of the dresses, carpets and tent panels against the pastel colours employed for the architecture and the rocks. The composition of our painting is also strikingly similar to ‘Hamir and the dancing girl’ from the presentation series mentioned above. For comparable illustrations and further discussion on the series, see Archer 1973, Vol. I, pp. 360-362, Vol.II, fig. 42(i).(ii), pg. 273.  For another folio from this series which is sold at auction, see Christie’s New York, 23 September 2004, lot 167.

Tethered Elephant
India, Mandi
18th century
Gouache and prepared paper

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Tethered Elephant
India, Mandi
18th century
Gouache and prepared paper
Inscribed in Hindi, “Guthi bedi sal bakar (Intertwined chains round the legs of a year old bull)”
Folio: 7 x 10 in. (17.7 x 25.4 cm.)
Image: 5 3/4 x 8 3/4 in. (14.6 x 22.2 cm.)

Provenance:
Estate of Thomas Williamson (Orinda CA)
Merryvale (San Francisco, CA)
Collection of the Maharana of Mewar

Radha watching a Storm
Signed Mohammadi
India, Mandi 
Dated 1824 (Samvat 1854)
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

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Radha watching a Storm
Signed Mohammadi
India, Mandi 
Dated 1824 (Samvat 1854)
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Image: 9 1/3 x 6 5/8 in. (24 x 17 cm.)
Folio: 11 7/8 x 9 7/8 in. (30.3 x 25 cm.)

Verso inscribed:
S[amvat] 30 re Bha[draprada] pra[vishte]10 Shri Miyan Sahaba ki nazar kita ch[tere]. Mahamadiye; translated, “Presented to Miyan Saheb (exalted member of the royal family) on the 10th day of the Bhadrapada month of the year 30 (corresponding to CE 1854) by the painter Mohammadi”.

Provenance:
Theo Brown and Paul Woner, San Francisco, 1970s-1982
Private Collection, Los Angeles

The painter evokes the atmosphere of the monsoon season with a turbulent sky of billowing rain clouds and lightning strikes. The passionate nayika clad in a richly ornamented dress looks back to her courtesans, gesturing in the hope that the arrival of the rain will hasten the return of her lover. The powerful and brooding presence of the peacock signifies both the arrival of the rainy season and amplifies the absence of the nayak.
Mohammadi (Mohammad Bax) was the disciple of Sajnu, whose prominence as a master artist became fully realized under his new patron Raja Ishvari Sen of Mandi after he left the court of Kangra around 1804. The style favored in Mandi in the early decades of the 19th century diverted towards curious subjects and a naïve style under Shamsher Sen. Sajnu and Mohammadi followed the conventions developed in the Guler and Kangra school and focused on the classic Bharamasa and Nayika love poetry, such as the present painting.
This work is important as it shows the high quality of painting still produced in the 19th century, as indicated by the date on the verso, corresponding to 1824 CE. It remains one of the very few folios bearing the artist’s signature. However, the name of the patron in the inscription remains absent and is only referred to by the honorific title Miyan Saheb. It likely refers to Raja Bijai Sen, who ruled Mandi from 1851 to 1902.
Compare with another similar scene in the San Diego Museum of Art in Goswamy & Smith, Domains of Wonder, San Diego, 2005. pp.252-3, fig.108. Also see a closely related work of similar size dated circa 1840, entitled, Palace Women Watching the Approaching Storm, sold by Christie’s, New York, 18 September 2013, lot 363

Christies Comparable:
https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/the-palace-women-watching-the-approaching-storm-5716092-details.aspx