An identical shop, its proto-model, built in 1730s, might be still discovered in symmetrically built rows of shops at one of the bazaars in Sawai Jai Singh’s medieval Pink City Jaipur. This medievalism might be seen revealing also in dozens of shops at Jodhpur, Udaipur, Bikaner, Ajmer and other old towns of Rajasthan not merely in the character of their architecture but also in the articles they sell – bangles, wears, jewellery, artifacts and things of day-today use. In the shape of these bangles and other mirrors- inlaid and lac-coated articles Rajasthan makes its presence felt world-over as also in far-gone seventeenth-eighteenth centuries in the form of their painted versions in miniatures of those days. A raised carpeted floor affording seating space for both, the shop-owner as well as the buyer, arched brackets manipulating corners, and a well moulded and gilded lintel with beautifully cast eave, typical features of Rajasthani architecture, define the shop’s face. Its interior-wall, the lower part distinguished from the rest by a projected platform with storing cabins provided under it, middle, pierced by arched alcoves, corbelled and pointed alternating mutually, and the uppermost, with low-height shallow alcove-designs, further strengthen the shop’s medieval character.
As suggest her more elaborate and expensive jewellery, richer costume, fairer complexion, more elegant look, and seating posture, which traveled from Mughals’ lifestyle to entire elite class in the country, the lady on the inner side of shop is obviously one from society’s upper strata, and the other giving her company, clad in green lehanga, seated on her left, is her maid, or a friend with humble background. Almost in equation, the lady towards the right of the former and on the shop’s innermost side, wearing a green blouse, is the shop’s owner. The other lady on her right, busy in casting bangles on a heated moulding rod, is obviously her help. She has before her an oven with blazing coals and an extra moulding rod by her side. Colour and size-wise arranged series of bangles are stored in a wooden case behind them. A few of them are kept on the platform, others in a portable small wooden case and on a reel, and a few, the shop’s owner has before her for giving trial from them. The figures have been conceived with sharp features though not without what distinguished the age of the one from the other. The shop owner’s elderly age, as compared to the two buyers, reveals in her look. With a young maiden’s appearance her helper is obviously the youngest among all women. The painting is most accomplished in its portrait quality for besides portraying a set of female figures it also discovers their social status, age distinction and the period they belonged to.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature