Rama Durbar

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Rama Durbar
Dated 1840 AD

Place of Origin: Deogarh, Mewar, Rajasthan
Materials: Paper
Artist: Baijnath
Acc. No. 62.96

This painting, perhaps a votive image portraying Rama seated with Sita, his consort, on a golden chowki with a high back and a canopy embedded with precious stones attached to it, his brothers Bharata and Lakshmana, standing in attendance with folded hands, Shatrughna, the youngest, waving flywhisk, and Hanuman, the monkey-god, massaging his feet, is known in the Vaishnava iconographic tradition as the portrayal of Rama-durbar. The chowki Rama and Sita are seated on has been raised over four legs styled like elongated lion-statues and is hence popularly called Simhasana: 'simha' - lion, plus 'asana' - seat, broadly the seat with lion-legs. Besides that the very theme itself has votive character, the artist Baijnath who painted this masterpiece had also painted the theme on a larger scale on one of the walls of Deogarh palace, obviously, meant to charge the ambience with spiritualism.

Not in the palace but this make-shift durbar is held in a suburb, or over a garden pavilion under a Sapta-parni, a tree usually having seven leaves on each stem, with happy peacocks and other birds perching on its branches frisking and singing full-throated in delight to have such a distinguished guest as the world's Creator Himself. The tree, green and leafy by nature, seems to itself burst with multiple colours. The terrace has overlaid it a beautiful carpet conceived with floral design. A low-height curtain wall, consisting of white marble, and a column of dwarfish trees beyond it separate the terrace part from the wide-stretched meadow. In the sky on the other end there have gathered the evening clouds piercing which the sun reveals its golden glory.

Rama and Sita are seated on the 'Simhasana' against a huge bolster. In pursuance to imperial convention practised at all Rajput courts Sita is seated with her spouse on the throne but characteristic to Rajput life-style she is also covering her head under the veil-like held 'odhini'. As reveals the gesture of his right hand Rama is elaborating to Bharata and Lakshmana something, perhaps some state-related matter and in absolute abeyance the two brothers are taking its note with folded hands. Though a make-shift durbar, the artist has retained a bit of splendour here too. In the use of bright colours, maturity of form and the figures' iconography, especially their fine features, the painting is simply outstanding.

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