Detail View: The AMICA Library: Heroine Confiding in Her Attendant

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Drawings and Watercolors
Creator Nationality: 
Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: 
Central Indian
Creator Name-CRT: 
Central Indian
Heroine Confiding in Her Attendant
Full view
Creation Date: 
c. 1650-1660
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Opaque watercolor and ink on paper
Creation Place: 
India, Madhya Pradesh, Malwa region
8 1/4 x 5 3/4 in. (21 x 14.6 cm)
AMICA Contributor: 
Asia Society
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Parts and Pieces: 
folio from an Amaru Shataka manuscript
Illustrations in books and small-scale paintings grouped in albums or sets are among the most important art forms produced in India from the 16th through 19th centuries. During this period, much of northern India was ruled by the Mughals, a dynasty of Central Asian origins that had entered northern India from Afghanistan in 1526. However, different regions of the northwestern part of the subcontinent, such as Malwa, were under the control of native Rajput kings. This painting, produced in the Malwa region, illustrates some of the differences between Mughal and Rajput pictorial styles. Dated to 1650-60, it is a folio from a manuscript of the Amaru Shataka (One Hundred Verses by Amaru). The composition and the use of space and color reflect the conceptual differences between the Rajput and Mughal world views and pictorial styles. Mughal paintings are usually particularized, stressing a specific individual or event. Although Rajput paintings dealing with courtly themes and subjects can also behistorically specific, many Rajput pictures, especially those dealing with literary or religious themes, do not adhere to empirical reality. Mughal paintings show an interest in spatial depth, which helps to place a scene in a setting, while Rajput narrative paintings often place figures and architecture within a flat picture plane. The colors used in Rajput paintings are brighter and bolder than those used in contemporaneous Mughal works, and the gestures and postures used in Rajput paintings are more stylized than those found in the art of the Mughal court.

Within the Rajput tradition, Malwa painting is noted for its conservatism; compared with most other schools of painting in Rajasthan, it betrays little awareness of or influence from the predominant Mughal style and insistently harks back to pre-Mughal conventions. This can be seen here in the conventionalized figures and architecture.

The blues, reds, and yellows; the relatively simple backgrounds; the figures' sweet faces and delicate gestures; and the ornate detailing of the architecture are characteristics shared by Malwa paintings of the later 17th century. Most paintings from this set are in the Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay, and the set has been dated to about 1650 on the basis of style and inscriptional evidence.

Illustrations of texts dealing with aspects of love are among the most popular images in Malwa painting of the 17th century, and the Amaru Shataka is one such text. Written by the Sanskrit poet Amaru (active c.7th century), the hundred verses in this lyrical book describe the various permutations of love. In this painting, the seated woman depends on a confidante to explain her anguish to her lover. Although this painting refers to the specific verse from the poem written above (now somewhat damaged), such illustrations of lovers, or so-called heroes (nayakas) and heroines (nayikas), are quite generalized in Malwa painting of the 17th century.

Related Document Description: 
Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 29.
Related Document Description: 
Queens Museum. Aspects of Indian Art and Life. New York: Queens County Art and Cultural Center, 1983, pp. 21-22.
Related Document Description: 
Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Hong Kong and Singapore: Hong Kong Museum of Art and National Museum Singapore, 1993, pp. 80, 81.
Related Document Description: 
Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Tokyo: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, 1992, pp. 57, 127.
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