Search results

Start typing

Eastern Encounters pattern
Eastern Encounters

Drawn from the Royal Library's collection of South Asian books and manuscripts

CAT. NO. 74

Proshitabhartrika Nayika

Punjab, <i>c</i>.1840

Painting in opaque watercolour including gold and silver metallic paints with decorative incising on paper with painted margins | 28.6 × 22.2 cm (page); 22.4 × 15.8 cm (image) | RCIN 1005128

The ashta nayika (‘eight heroines’) of South Asian poetry and dance were also favoured subjects of painters.[247] Each nayika finds herself in a different situation and emotional state, proshitabhartrika nayika being the lady in despair because her lover is away. Here, in a palace chamber overlooking a valley, the heroine rearranges the folds in her sari in frustration as her sakhi (companion) attempts to console her.[248] Her inner turmoil is echoed outside as the dark clouds open up and strutting peacocks welcome the dramatic downpour of the monsoon rains.

With the spread of Sikh authority over the Punjab in the early nineteenth century, many painters of the Pahari hill states migrated to the Sikh centres of Lahore, Patiala, Kapurthala and other cities of the Punjab Plains. The hasty execution of this work and the sparing application of costly pigments reflect a more general decline in quality as traditional systems of patronage ended and the painter’s trade commercialised.

  • [247] See Bhanudatta’s Rasamanjari and Keshavadasa’s Rasikapriya, both of which combine the nayika’s mood with rasa-associated subjects.

    [248] In South Asian poetry a sakhi is the female confidante who often plays the go-between for the nayika and her lover (nayak). 

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.