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Udaipur Paintings of the Raslila


Among the rich collection of Indian paintings acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria through the Felton Bequest in 1980 are two large pictures depicting Maharana Jagat Singh II of Mewar at a performance of the Raslila (religious dance dramas) in a courtyard of his palace (figs 1–2).1Topsfield, Paintings from Rajasthan in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1980, nos 113–14. Accomplished and impressive works of mid-eighteenth-century Udaipur painting, they belong to a unique series which comprises at least ten pictures in all,2The Mewar royal inventory numbers (probably dating from the period of Maharana Fateh Singh, 1884–1930) on the backs of the ten known pictures run from –/116 to –/126, omitting –/118, which has not so far been traced. each depicting a different phase or episode of the Raslila plays. There is otherwise little compositional variation between them, and all bear similar inscriptions on the reverse, dated in the autumn month of Karttik (October–November) 1736. The series was evidently commissioned by the Maharana as a record, by several collaborating artists, of the repertoire of a visiting troupe of Raslila players as performed on the full moon night of that month. It is therefore of considerable interest, not only as an ambitious pictorial exercise but for its documentation of an important dramatic art form about which very little is known before the nineteenth century. 

The Raslila originated and flourishes still in the Braj country around Mathura and Brindaban, the traditional homeland of the cowherd god Krishna and the centre of his devotional cult.3N. Hein, The Miracle Plays of Mathura, New Haven, 1972, chs 6–7; also J. S. Hawley, At Play with Krishna: Pilgrimage Dramas from Brindavan, Princeton, 1981, and K. Vatsyayan, ‘Krishna in the Performing Arts’, in E. Isacco and A. Dallapiccola (eds), Krishna the Divine Lover, London, 1982. Its component themes are the Ras, the mystical communion of Krishna and the enamoured milkmaids in a circular dance (Rasmandala), and the numerous lilas, the divine sports of Krishna’s childhood and youth, in which he overcame demons, performed pranks or displayed miraculous powers. One such exploit, the Govardhan Lila, in which he raised Mount Govardhan on one finger to protect the villagers from the rainstorms sent by the jealous god Indra, is a theme of the present series (figs 7–8). For several centuries the rasmandali troupes have consisted of Brahmin boy actors aged from eight upwards, under the direction of an adult leader (svami or rasdhari). The two senior child actors playing the roles of Krishna and his consort Radha are accorded special respect by Vaishnava devotees as living ‘forms’ (svarup) of the divine couple. During the main pilgrimage seasons and particularly the rainy months, the troupes remain based at Mathura, but from September they travel widely in northern and western India, playing in the temples and private houses of the Vaishnava community. Such performances are reported in Rajasthan and Central India in the early nineteenth century by Broughton and Tod,4Quoted in Hein, op. cit., pp. 131–34. and the present series demonstrates that the Rajput courts were already providing patronage in the first half of the eighteenth century, if not much earlier still.5Earlier discussions of the paintings by myself, the late Prof. J. van Lohuizen–de Leeuw and Dr V. Desai (see references below) have erred in assuming the dancers to be women of the court rather than boy actors in costume. The difference is not easily discerned in the Mewar artists’ rendering, but the dancers’ smaller stature (e.g. compared with the adult male playing Ganesha in fig. 2) indicates that they are juveniles, while the complex staging of the dramas alone suggests that the performers are highly organised professionals. It was, however, the case that female dancers also performed Ras scenes for Rajput rulers on occasion. That Jagat Singh himself enjoyed such performances is shown by a large Udaipur painting in an English private collection, dated the 7th of the dark half of Karttik 1751 and ascribed to the artists Sukha and Syaji, in which, among other scenes set in the lake palace of Jagniwas, the Maharana sits with ladies and female attendants in a carpeted courtyard watching several women dancers joined in a Rasmandala circle around another dancing the part of Krishna, in fluting posture and wearing a peacock head-dress and long white garland. Later in the eighteenth century such shows became popular at the Jaipur court and gave rise to a famous group of large drawings of dancers and musicians (e.g. S. C. Welch, Indian Drawings and Painted Sketches, Asia House, New York, 1976, nos 60–61) and a spirited painting of the divine Rasmandala (S. C. Welch, India: Art and Culture, 1300–1900, Metropolitan Museum, New York, 1985, no. 261 and refs). Indigenous Raslila troupes still flourish in parts of Rajasthan (D. R. Ahuja, Folklore of Rajasthan, New Delhi, 1980, p. 142).

It is in keeping with the character of Maharana Jagat Singh that he should have welcomed the Raslila players and commemorated their shows in this way. Like many of the later rulers of Mewar during its long political and economic decline, he sought refuge from affairs of state in patronage of the arts and escapist entertainments. Colonel Tod, writing in the 1820s, described him thus: ‘Addicted to pleasure, his habits of levity and profusion totally unfitted him for the task of governing his country at such a juncture … Many of those festivals devoted to idleness and dissipation, and now firmly rooted at Udaipur were instituted by Jagat Singh II.’6J. Tod, Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, edited by W. Crooke, repr. Delhi, 1971, I, p. 495. Earlier in the same year of 1736 he had undergone the humiliation of having to receive the Maratha leader Baji Rao and agree the terms of tribute to be paid to him. Here at least, in the serene contemplation of the Ras on a moonlit night, such disagreeable matters could be forgotten. The court clerks’ inscriptions (written in more than one hand) describe the occasion, with the usual honorific prefixes: ‘Shri Maharajadhiraja Maharanaji Shri Jagat Singhji in the Samvat year 1793 [A.D. 1736] on the 15th day of the bright half of Karttik had a Ras performed for offspring (?: rãs bĩraj ro karãyo)’.7I am indebted to Dr John D. Smith for the suggested tentative rendering of this phrase, my earlier misreading of which in Paintings from Rajasthan, no. 113 (as again in R. Cimino, A. Topsfield and G. Tillotson, Life at Court in Rajasthan, Florence, 1985, p. 112) gave rise to the incorrect translation in V. Desai, Life at Court: Art for India’s Rulers, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1985, no. 54. There follows in each case an identical list of his companions at the performance, all of them close male relatives or nobles. 

In what is almost certainly the first painting in the series (fig. 1),8Topsfield, Paintings from Rajasthan, no. 113; Desai, loc. cit. the Maharana attends the invocation ritual before the performance. The dancers in gopis’ (milkmaids’) costume stand in rows while one waves the arati lamp before the presiding figure of the Krishna svarup, here shown in full face rather than profile, in accordance with his divine status. He stands holding a flute and with one arm raised in the Govardhan-holding pose on a low dais arranged before an arched doorway on the far side of the courtyard. His costume includes Krishna’s traditional peacock head-dress, false hanging locks of hair, a blue upper garment and a multi-coloured, triple-tiered skirt over a yellow dhoti, as well as jewellery, a garland and ankle-bells. The Maharana, with gold nimbus, stands in attendance with his male relatives: his brothers Nathji and Baghji, his son Prince Pratap Singh and Nathji’s infant son Bhim Singh.9The elder of the two small princes, standing close to Jagat Singh, is not identified in this inscription. In those of the other paintings, in which he sits close to the Maharana, he is called Chamanoji, possibly a familiar name for Jagat Singh’s younger son Ari Singh, who later came to the throne in 1761. Ari Singh’s date of birth is not recorded by Shyamaldas and other historians; but Prince Pratap Singh was born in August 1724 (Kaviraja Shyamaldas, Vir Vinod, Udaipur, 1886, II, p. 1538) and his bearded, adult appearance in the Raslila pictures suggests that they were painted later than 1736, when he would have been only twelve, and perhaps closer to 1740. Such a lapse in time between an event and its depiction is not unknown in later Udaipur painting. (A boy named Chamanoji also appears seated next to the ruler in a large painting of Maharana Sangram Singh at a feast in front of the City Palace in c.1730–34, no. –/217, in the City Palace (Zenana Mahal) collection, Udaipur. It may be mentioned that Chimnaji was also a Maratha name: Chimnaji Appa (d. 1741), brother of the Peshwa Baji Rao, had a son Sadashivrao Chimnaji Bhau who would have been five in 1736, but there is no evidence to connect the latter with the Udaipur court.) The courtyard itself, with the solar emblem of the Mewar rulers appearing as an orb between the central pillars at the left, was later much reconstructed by Jagat Singh and his successors and came to be called Mor Chowk (‘Peacock Court’). The performance area is enclosed on two sides by red qanats (tent screens) and is partly lit by standing lamps. The Maharana’s huqqa stands in readiness to the left and the players’ stage props to the right: a canopy painted with a scene of Indra and his consort riding the elephant Airavata amid storm-clouds, and a small pyramidal model of Mount Govardhan, both for use in the Govardhan Lila, as well as two sets of drums. In the lower part of the picture, noblemen sit or promenade in the assembly hall in the first storey of the palace, while in the main courtyard below the grooms and servants talk, smoke or listen to three musicians playing; these latter groups of figures recur with variations throughout the series. 

Neither the inscriptions nor any internal evidence in the remaining nine lila paintings indicate whether they follow a particular sequence. The order in which they are discussed here is therefore largely notional, and is based mainly on the role played by the Krishna svarup in the different scenes. In one group of pictures (figs 2–6) Krishna continues to stand as presiding figure at the far side of the courtyard, while in another (figs 7–10) he enters the action in scenes of the Govardhan Lila and his dances with Radha and the gopis. It is possible, however, that this arrangement may run counter to the original performing order, since in the modern Raslila the Ras section comprising Krishna’s dances with the gopis precedes the performance of individual lila episodes.10Hein, op. cit., pp. 142–43. 

The first group of lilas comprises dances by the deities Ganesha (fig. 2), Brahma (fig. 4) and Shiva (fig. 5), by Krishna’s half-brother Balarama (fig. 6) and a gopis’ dance (fig. 3).11These lilas show little similarity with the modern repertoire described by Hein, ch. 7, in which gods other than Krishna make only occasional appearances. Here also the order is uncertain. It may be that the dance of the auspicious, elephant-headed Ganesha12Topsfield, Paintings from Rajasthan, no. 114 and col. pl. I. comes first in the group in that he is customarily invoked by Hindus at the outset of any undertaking. Ganesha is played by a corpulent man, possibly the leader of the troupe, wearing a red elephant mask, a yellow dhoti and an extra pair of arms holding the attributes of a lotus and gold dish. He is seen three times, dancing before the Maharana, sitting on a low gold throne and astride his vehicle (vahana), the rat, shown as a large model on wheels. A chorus of dancing gopis and drummers and three adult male musicians accompany him, while five other gopis attend Krishna, standing on a gold stool in Govardhan-holding pose by the far wall. As in all the remaining pictures, the Maharana sits at centre left of the playing area smoking his huqqa13In the course of the series Jagat Singh smokes several different gold huqqas, either spherical (figs 1, 4–7, 9–10) or shaped like a young prince (or woman? – figs 2 and 8 and also visible in figs 1 and 6) or like a goat (fig. 3). Such variation of details serves to suggest the passage of time between different lila scenes, but it seems to have been left to the caprice of individual painters and no logical or temporal sequence can be inferred from it. (Other variables include the model of Mount Govardhan, which only appears in figs 1, 4, 7–8 and 10, and the infant Bhim Singh, in figs 1, 3–4 and 6–7.) flanked from his right by the boy Chamanoji, Raja Raghodev, Baba Takhat Singh, Nathji, Prince Pratap Singh, Baghji, his uncle Bakhat Singh, Sardar Singh and Baba Bharath Singh. The Maharana’s huqqa-bearer and other, varying attendant figures14The elderly man in a white jama in the near right corner of the playing area in fig. 8 and elsewhere is probably Jagat Singh’s prime minister Bihari Das Pancholi. Another attendant associated with the huqqa-bearer may carry tongs for the coals or perhaps a wick-trimmer for the lamps. also appear to the right of the playing area. 

In the gopis’ dance (fig. 3) two of the dancers perform with flaming wands in front of the Maharana, after which they are presented by an attendant to the approving audience; Krishna meanwhile remains at the side, holding a cowherd’s staff and attended by gopis. In the scene of Brahma (fig. 4) the god is again played by the adult dancer wearing a yellow dhoti, gold cloak and a mask with four faces. He is seen three times: conversing with the gopis, dancing before the Maharana holding a red staff and gold ewer, and finally clasping the hand of the infant Bhim Singh. Shiva (fig. 5)15Indian Miniature Painting, Spink & Son Ltd, London, 1987, no. 41. and Balarama (fig. 6)16A. Topsfield, ‘Scenes of Court Life from Udaipur’, The Ashmolean, no. 8, Autumn 1985, p. 18; G. H. R. Tillotson, The Rajput Palaces, New Haven, 1987, pl. 4. are played by bare-chested boy dancers. Shiva appears twice, with the ash-smeared skin and tiger-skin garment of an ascetic, seated on a tiger-skin and standing beside his mount, the white bull Nandi (presumably another model); he carries the attributes of a trident and hand-drum. Balarama is seen four times: holding up a sprig of flowers, kneeling with two flaming lamps, dancing before the Maharana and finally standing in attendance beside the seated Krishna and Radha in the foreground: he wears a gold dhoti, cloak and head-dress with a black plume. 

In the episode devoted to Indra (fig. 7), Krishna participates further in the action, sitting with the gopis in front of the model of Mount Govardhan, while Indra, played by a boy actor and seen twice, stands holding an ankus (elephant-goad) beside his caparisoned, many-trunked, model elephant. This is probably the prelude to the Govardhan Lila (fig. 8)17Victoria and Albert Museum, The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule, London, 1982, no. 142; A. Topsfield, ‘The Court Painters of Udaipur’, The V & A Album 1, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1982, fig. 4; J. van Lohuizen–de Leeuw, ‘Impersonations of Krishna by Ladies at the Courts of Rajasthan in the Eighteenth Century’, East and West, n.s., 32, 1–4, Dec. 1982, pl. 2; R. M. Cimino et al., op. cit., no. 74. in which Indra himself is only present in the painted scene of storm clouds on the elevated canopy. Below it Krishna is seen triumphant, playing the flute as he holds aloft the (presumably suspended) model mountain. He is surrounded by adoring gopis, two of whom wear cow masks and caper before him to the beat of naqqara drums. To the left, Krishna dances with Radha before the Maharana, accompanied by gopis with drums and cymbals. In fig. 9 Krishna and Radha again appear together three times: first standing among the gopis, then distinguished by a gold textile held over their heads, and finally holding hands as they perform a whirling dance. In the last of the paintings (fig. 10) Krishna is seen twice: in the centre, holding a staff and inviting the gopis to dance, and to the left, dancing with nine of them in an animated group not quite approximating to a full Rasmandala circle. 

Udaipur paintings of court life were almost always conceived as single compositions devoted to a specific event, and the Raslila series is thus unique in its multiplicity. The inspiration for these variations on a theme must have come from the Maharana’s deep absorption in the dance dramas and his wish for a permanent record of them. The leading role in this project was evidently taken by his senior painter Jai Ram, to whom fig. 1 is ascribed on the reverse (cĩtarõ jai rãm). Unfortunately, none of the other paintings bear ascriptions, and their present dispersal around the world makes comparative analysis and attribution to individual artists a speculative undertaking. Some of the pictures are also probably by more than one hand, and Jai Ram’s collaborators, who appear to have numbered three in all, were moreover consciously following the compositional and stylistic models established by him for the series. A provisional study suggests that, besides fig. 1, Jai Ram may have been chiefly responsible for figs 2, 3, 5 and 8, although in the last of these an inept assistant must have created the confusing convergence of the receding qanat, striped durri and Indra’s canopy at the far right of the courtyard. Figs 4, 7 and 9 are probably the work of a second artist closely following Jai Ram’s models (e.g. in fig. 2), with a competent but flatter style of figure drawing and, again, a less adroit handling of the perspective problem of the converging lines in the upper right corner. These might be the work of Jiva, but the attribution is uncertain. Finally, fig. 6 shows some similarities with the work of Naga, son of Bhagvan, and fig. 10 with the family style of Raghunath, son of Maluk Chand.18Works by these artists are found in several public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Victoria: Topsfield, Paintings from Rajasthan, nos 180, 111 and 176 and 117–18 and 128, respectively. These suggestions can be no more than tentative at present and trying to establish individual attributions for this largely uniform series is perhaps even a little beside the point. 

These representations of the Raslila are also of interest in another respect to the student of Rajput painting, in that they serve as a reminder of the strong influence that the regular visits of the travelling Rasmandali troupes must have had on local traditions of mythological painting19The general affinity between the pictorial treatment of Krishnalila scenes and the regional dance–dramas of India has been noted, for example, by A. K. Coomaraswamy, Rajput Painting, London, 1916, pp. 4–5, and N. C. Mehta, ‘A New Document of Gujarati Painting’, Journal of the Gujarat Research Society, VII, 4, 1945, p. 142., especially in illustrations to the Bhagavata Purana, Gita Govinda, Sur Sagar and other texts. To take one example in the Melbourne collection,20Topsfield, Paintings from Rajasthan, no. 62, cf. e.g. W. Spink, Krishnamandala, Ann Arbor, 1971, fig. 104 and other illus., and illus. in K. Vatsyayan, The Dance in Indian Painting, New Delhi, 1982, e.g. figs 119, 120, etc. the multiple scenes of Krishna’s sports with Radha and the gopis in a large early eighteenth-century Sur Sagar page from Udaipur (fig. 11) are probably largely based on the nikunj lilas, or Krishna and Radha’s love-play in a forest bower as enacted in the Raslila.21Hein, op. cit., p. 165. In the lower part of the picture Krishna is even shown dressed in full Raslila costume, including peacock head-dress, garland and multi-coloured, tiered skirt,22This characteristic Raslila garment appears quite frequently in early eighteenth-century Udaipur depictions of Krishna, e.g. in the 1714 Gita Govinda series in the Government Museum, Udaipur, and occasionally, in a different form, in the work of Sahibdin, c.1630: e.g. A. Topsfield, ‘Sahibdin’s Gita-Govinda Illustrations’, Chhavi-2, ed. A. Krishna, Bharat Kala Bhavan, Benares, 1981, figs 509, 521. The latter paintings both follow the stylised Rasmandala composition with Krishna fluting within a radiating circle of gopis which is already found in an illustration from the well-known dispersed Bhagavata Purana series of the early to mid-sixteenth century (unpublished page in a private collection; described in D. J. Ehnbom, An Analysis and Reconstruction of the Dispersed Bhagavata Purana from the Caurapancasika Group, Ph.D. thesis, University of Chicago, 1984, p. 185). In this page Krishna is depicted in the same fluting posture and wearing a double-tiered, green and yellow dancer’s skirt. as he dances in flute-playing posture. The stylised bowers with red interiors are themselves a stock motif of Mewar mythological painting, going back to the style of Nasiruddin and Sahibdin in the early seventeenth century,23E.g. A. L. Dahmen-Dallapiccola, Ragamala-Miniaturen von 1475 bis 1700, Wiesbaden, 1975, p. 136, and Topsfield, ‘Sahibdin’s Gita-Govinda Illustrations’, figs 507–8, 517–18, etc. and beyond that to the pre-Mughal, early Rajput tradition represented by the sixteenth-century Gita Govinda series in the Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay.24K. Khandalavala, ‘A Gita Govinda Series in the Prince of Wales Museum’, Bulletin of the Prince of Wales Museum, no. 4, 1953–54. Other likely affinities of pictorial imagery with the Raslila dance repertoire, particularly in the costumes, grouping, postures and gestures of Krishna and other figures, are found not only in Mewar (especially in later Nathadwara painting) but in many other Rajput schools. 

Andrew Topsfield, Department of Eastern Art, Ashmolean Museum (in 1988).

Acknowledgement

Dr Ursula Hoff, as Felton Adviser, was responsible for the acquisition in 1980 of an outstanding collection of 274 Indian paintings, mainly from Rajasthan, to which three of the works discussed here belong (figs 1, 2, 11). 

 

Notes

1              Topsfield, Paintings from Rajasthan in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1980, nos 113–14. 

2              The Mewar royal inventory numbers (probably dating from the period of Maharana Fateh Singh, 1884–1930) on the backs of the ten known pictures run from –/116 to –/126, omitting –/118, which has not so far been traced. 

3              N. Hein, The Miracle Plays of Mathura, New Haven, 1972, chs 6–7; also J. S. Hawley, At Play with Krishna: Pilgrimage Dramas from Brindavan, Princeton, 1981, and K. Vatsyayan, ‘Krishna in the Performing Arts’, in E. Isacco and A. Dallapiccola (eds), Krishna the Divine Lover, London, 1982. 

4              Quoted in Hein, op. cit., pp. 131–34. 

5              Earlier discussions of the paintings by myself, the late Prof. J. van Lohuizen–de Leeuw and Dr V. Desai (see references below) have erred in assuming the dancers to be women of the court rather than boy actors in costume. The difference is not easily discerned in the Mewar artists’ rendering, but the dancers’ smaller stature (e.g. compared with the adult male playing Ganesha in fig. 2) indicates that they are juveniles, while the complex staging of the dramas alone suggests that the performers are highly organised professionals. It was, however, the case that female dancers also performed Ras scenes for Rajput rulers on occasion. That Jagat Singh himself enjoyed such performances is shown by a large Udaipur painting in an English private collection, dated the 7th of the dark half of Karttik 1751 and ascribed to the artists Sukha and Syaji, in which, among other scenes set in the lake palace of Jagniwas, the Maharana sits with ladies and female attendants in a carpeted courtyard watching several women dancers joined in a Rasmandala circle around another dancing the part of Krishna, in fluting posture and wearing a peacock head-dress and long white garland. Later in the eighteenth century such shows became popular at the Jaipur court and gave rise to a famous group of large drawings of dancers and musicians (e.g. S. C. Welch, Indian Drawings and Painted Sketches, Asia House, New York, 1976, nos 60–61) and a spirited painting of the divine Rasmandala (S. C. Welch, India: Art and Culture, 1300–1900, Metropolitan Museum, New York, 1985, no. 261 and refs). Indigenous Raslila troupes still flourish in parts of Rajasthan (D. R. Ahuja, Folklore of Rajasthan, New Delhi, 1980, p. 142). 

6              J. Tod, Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, edited by W. Crooke, repr. Delhi, 1971, I, p. 495.

7              I am indebted to Dr John D. Smith for the suggested tentative rendering of this phrase, my earlier misreading of which in Paintings from Rajasthan, no. 113 (as again in R. Cimino, A. Topsfield and G. Tillotson, Life at Court in Rajasthan, Florence, 1985, p. 112) gave rise to the incorrect translation in V. Desai, Life at Court: Art for India’s Rulers, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1985, no. 54. 

8              Topsfield, Paintings from Rajasthan, no. 113; Desai, loc. cit. 

9              The elder of the two small princes, standing close to Jagat Singh, is not identified in this inscription. In those of the other paintings, in which he sits close to the Maharana, he is called Chamanoji, possibly a familiar name for Jagat Singh’s younger son Ari Singh, who later came to the throne in 1761. Ari Singh’s date of birth is not recorded by Shyamaldas and other historians; but Prince Pratap Singh was born in August 1724 (Kaviraja Shyamaldas, Vir Vinod, Udaipur, 1886, II, p. 1538) and his bearded, adult appearance in the Raslila pictures suggests that they were painted later than 1736, when he would have been only twelve, and perhaps closer to 1740. Such a lapse in time between an event and its depiction is not unknown in later Udaipur painting. (A boy named Chamanoji also appears seated next to the ruler in a large painting of Maharana Sangram Singh at a feast in front of the City Palace in c.1730–34, no. –/217, in the City Palace (Zenana Mahal) collection, Udaipur. It may be mentioned that Chimnaji was also a Maratha name: Chimnaji Appa (d. 1741), brother of the Peshwa Baji Rao, had a son Sadashivrao Chimnaji Bhau who would have been five in 1736, but there is no evidence to connect the latter with the Udaipur court.) 

10           Hein, op. cit., pp. 142–43. 

11           These lilas show little similarity with the modern repertoire described by Hein, ch. 7, in which gods other than Krishna make only occasional appearances. 

12           Topsfield, Paintings from Rajasthan, no. 114 and col. pl. I. 

13           In the course of the series Jagat Singh smokes several different gold huqqas, either spherical (figs 1, 4–7, 9–10) or shaped like a young prince (or woman? – figs 2 and 8 and also visible in figs 1 and 6) or like a goat (fig. 3). Such variation of details serves to suggest the passage of time between different lila scenes, but it seems to have been left to the caprice of individual painters and no logical or temporal sequence can be inferred from it. (Other variables include the model of Mount Govardhan, which only appears in figs 1, 4, 7–8 and 10, and the infant Bhim Singh, in figs 1, 3–4 and 6–7.) 

14           The elderly man in a white jama in the near right corner of the playing area in fig. 8 and elsewhere is probably Jagat Singh’s prime minister Bihari Das Pancholi. Another attendant associated with the huqqa-bearer may carry tongs for the coals or perhaps a wick-trimmer for the lamps. 

15           Indian Miniature Painting, Spink & Son Ltd, London, 1987, no. 41. 

16           A. Topsfield, ‘Scenes of Court Life from Udaipur’, The Ashmolean, no. 8, Autumn 1985, p. 18; G. H. R. Tillotson, The Rajput Palaces, New Haven, 1987, pl. 4. 

17           Victoria and Albert Museum, The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule, London, 1982, no. 142; A. Topsfield, ‘The Court Painters of Udaipur’, The V & A Album 1, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1982, fig. 4; J. van Lohuizen–de Leeuw, ‘Impersonations of Krishna by Ladies at the Courts of Rajasthan in the Eighteenth Century’, East and West, n.s., 32, 1–4, Dec. 1982, pl. 2; R. M. Cimino et al., op. cit., no. 74. 

18           Works by these artists are found in several public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Victoria: Topsfield, Paintings from Rajasthan, nos 180, 111 and 176 and 117–18 and 128, respectively. 

19           The general affinity between the pictorial treatment of Krishnalila scenes and the regional dance–dramas of India has been noted, for example, by A. K. Coomaraswamy, Rajput Painting, London, 1916, pp. 4–5, and N. C. Mehta, ‘A New Document of Gujarati Painting’, Journal of the Gujarat Research Society, VII, 4, 1945, p. 142. 

20           Topsfield, Paintings from Rajasthan, no. 62, cf. e.g. W. Spink, Krishnamandala, Ann Arbor, 1971, fig. 104 and other illus., and illus. in K. Vatsyayan, The Dance in Indian Painting, New Delhi, 1982, e.g. figs 119, 120, etc. 

21           Hein, op. cit., p. 165. 

22           This characteristic Raslila garment appears quite frequently in early eighteenth-century Udaipur depictions of Krishna, e.g. in the 1714 Gita Govinda series in the Government Museum, Udaipur, and occasionally, in a different form, in the work of Sahibdin, c.1630: e.g. A. Topsfield, ‘Sahibdin’s Gita-Govinda Illustrations’, Chhavi-2, ed. A. Krishna, Bharat Kala Bhavan, Benares, 1981, figs 509, 521. The latter paintings both follow the stylised Rasmandala composition with Krishna fluting within a radiating circle of gopis which is already found in an illustration from the well-known dispersed Bhagavata Purana series of the early to mid-sixteenth century (unpublished page in a private collection; described in D. J. Ehnbom, An Analysis and Reconstruction of the Dispersed Bhagavata Purana from the Caurapancasika Group, Ph.D. thesis, University of Chicago, 1984, p. 185). In this page Krishna is depicted in the same fluting posture and wearing a double-tiered, green and yellow dancer’s skirt. 

23           E.g. A. L. Dahmen-Dallapiccola, Ragamala-Miniaturen von 1475 bis 1700, Wiesbaden, 1975, p. 136, and Topsfield, ‘Sahibdin’s Gita-Govinda Illustrations’, figs 507–8, 517–18, etc. 

24           K. Khandalavala, ‘A Gita Govinda Series in the Prince of Wales Museum’, Bulletin of the Prince of Wales Museum, no. 4, 1953–54. 

 

*fig. 1, Maharana Jagat Singh at the arati ceremony before the Raslila, in Karttik (October–November) 1736, now known at the National Gallery of Victoria as Maharana Jagat Singh II attending the invocation before a Raslila performance.

**fig. 2, Maharana Jagat Singh at the Raslila: Ganesha, now known at the National Gallery of Victoria as Maharana Jagat Singh II attending a Raslila performance.

***fig. 11, A page from a series of the Sur Sagar, now known at the National Gallery of Victoria as Krishna and Rhada from a Sur Sagar series.