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Princess enjoying a sparkler in the month of Karttika

Unknowncirca A.D. 1750​

National Museum - New Delhi
National Museum - New Delhi

From Kishangarh, Rajasthan

The woods, gardens, rivers, lakes, the earth and even the sky all are clear and shining bright by the illuminating lights of the Diwali festival. The days and night are full of joy, and couples are engaged in gambling. Colourful paintings of various gods and goddesses bring colour to the walls and courtyards of the houses. Celestial light encompasses the universe and all human beings are filled with divine light. This is the month when merit can be gained by worshiping the gods, having sacred baths and philanthropic activities such as giving alms to the poor. Hence, the lover pleads and requests the lover not to go away in the month of Karttika.

The month of Karttika is indicated by the cooler autumn month highlighted by the festival Diwali or Deepavali which occurs fourteen days after the full moon of the month of Asvin. This festival commemorates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after his fourteen-year long exile, and also pays homage to the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. At dusk, the age-old tradition of lighting oil lamps gave it the name- Festival of Lights. Lights are lit and placed on the walls and entrances of houses. To enjoy this festival of lights, which occurs on an amavasya (dark night), firecrackers are lit and lights are lit and placed on the walls and entrances of the houses.

Seated on the terrace of her palace is a princess, surrounded by five attendants who hold objects for her comforts. The young princess is seated on a golden chauki and is holding in one hand, an ornate golden huqqa decorated with flowers, and in the other a firecracker. A pandan or container for keeping betel leaves, a tray or thali with some fruit or food item and two gold surahi’s or long necked flasks filled with wine or water, are placed close to the princess. Shown in profile, she wears a diaphanous gold ghagra and is accessorized with all the customary jewellery made of pearls, subtly highlighting her beauty in this dark night. The smoke from the sparkles of the firecracker has been stylishly rendered by the artist, which coils as it disappears into the air. Behind her stand her five attendants, holding a surahi ,a morchhal , candles, a flywhisk, a wine tray and a pandan.

The white terrace building of the palace has intricate wall paintings depicting in its niches, trays with flower vases or guldans filled with flowers. The white background of the walls, decorated with pastel shades and gold colours, gets heightened with the flat bare dark grey background. The delicate play of colours and the striking contrast of the plain background, as compared to the exquisitely painted walls and elaborately flower filled carpet in flaming red, expose this Kishangarh artist’s mastery over his medium.

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Details

  • Title: Princess enjoying a sparkler in the month of Karttika
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: circa A.D. 1750​
  • Physical Dimensions: 36 x 25 c.m.

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