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Paintings > Mughal > A Dance for Self Delight
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A Dance for Self Delight

A Dance for Self Delight

A Dance for Self Delight

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Watercolor on Paper
Artist Navneet Parikh

10.0" X 13.0"
Item Code:
MI48
Frame
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$405.00
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Viewed 15491 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
This magnificent miniature, a contemporary work rendered using subdued colour tones in Mughal style of the Muhammad Shah period, portrays three figures – one male and two female, dancing around a grove of trees on a lake's bank. Jubilation defines the overall mood and ecstasy, their dance. Besides dancing, the male partner is playing on a flat one-sided round drum reciting, perhaps, a ballad with happy ending, and the female companions are transforming its notes into the moves of their feet. At around sunset when the sky has turned red and the earth is drawing over it a thin sheet of darkness, the three dancers emerge on the scene and begin dancing, as if in them was concretised the mood of the setting sun – the same glow on the faces, fire in bodies and its reflection in the colours of their costumes. Not at court – for the delight of a king or his nobles, or professionally for money, or on a ceremonial occasion – ritual or festive, away from the world – from its greedy eyes seeking in their serene expression of joy food for their lust, they are dancing to themselves, to their own delight – delight of him who is within them, the Brahma, their intrinsic self which has cosmic magnification, and thus the joy of which their dance is the ultimate expression acquires cosmic dimensions and becomes Brahmananda – the delight which pervades all within and beyond.

However, what ordinarily appears to be the portrayal of an ecstatic dance, also seeks to personify a Raga – a mode of Indian classical music, Raga Brahmananda. Ragas are broadly the abstract musical principles which, besides disciplining every step or part of a musical performance – singing, dancing or playing on instruments, under the norms of Indian classical music, express a mood or occasion. Ragas are one of those sets of abstractions which have been amongst the most widely represented themes of miniature painting for some three hundred years from around 1600 A. D. to the late 19th century. Except perhaps the Mughals' court-art – not paintings in Mughal style rendered outside the Mughal court, all art schools of Indian miniature painting, to also include the paintings of the Islamic Deccani court, have rendered Raga paintings. Representing the abstract Ragas as men and women, a kind of interdisciplinary approach, was begun long back when different Acharyas – scholars, like Narad, Hanuman, Hariballabh and Meshkaran, visualised a Raga, usually as the mood or mental disposition that it bred, as divine figures, mostly Shiva and Parvati, or Radha and Krishna, and sometimes a king or any other living being, representing such mood, mental disposition or any corresponding aspect. Raga Brahmananda relates to intrinsic delight, not subject to anything. Such delight has cosmic dimensions. As indicated above, the dance, which is the theme of the painting here, is the expression of such intrinsic delight, which, not being the subject to anything, any condition, any approval or disapproval, is absolute. To reveal its cosmic width the artist has created a cosmic ambience, sky and earth and water symbolising ocean, the representative features of the cosmos. Brahmananda as Raga is the expression of delight's absoluteness, which manifests in the painting in the ecstatic dance of the dancers and in their being.

The painting is contained within a double frame, outer one, a broad margin on all four sides, being adorned with floral motifs – lotuses and other flowers, against a light chocolate background, and inner framing strip, comprising leaf and flower motifs rendered in gold against a golden background. The earth part is broadly green but the foreground, the venue of the dance, is deeper and imparts the feeling of being wet, as looks the lake's bank above. It suggests that the dance has articulated life into it, which is suggestive of its cosmic dimensions. Unlike court dancers, or even those in folk traditions, all three dancers are simply clad and bejewelled; however, in their faces and forms reveal their absorption.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.


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