Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art

Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 392. An Illustration to a Nayaka-Nayika Series, India, Kangra, circa 1810.

Other Properties

An Illustration to a Nayaka-Nayika Series, India, Kangra, circa 1810

Auction Closed

September 20, 05:33 PM GMT


4,000 - 6,000 USD

Lot Details


Other Properties

An Illustration to a Nayaka-Nayika Series

India, Kangra, circa 1810

Opaque watercolor on paper heightened with gold

Image: 9 by 6¼ in. (23 by 16 cm)

Folio: 11 by 8¼ in. (28 by 21 cm)

Acquired in New York in the late 1960s/ early 1970s.

An orange and saffron-robed lord (portrayed here as Krishna) stands confidently in a terraced courtyard as his shy consort is brought to him from an inner chamber, helped by her sakhi or confidant. Overcome by both shyness at his tender gaze and wonder at his beauty she is paralyzed and unable to move. The folio border and an inscription on the verso describe this state as stambh (immobile or rooted), which is one of eight emotional conditions over which the body is believed to have little control. The heroine’s shyness, matched in equal measure by her overwhelming attraction to her suitor, renders her immobile as she is overcome by emotion.

The classification of heroes and heroines according to their emotional states (Nayaka-Nayika bheda) was a feted convention in Indian Sringara literature which reached its apogee during medieval times. The most popular exponent of this was the poet Keshavadas whose enormously influential treatise, the Rasikapriya (1591) still stands as a transformative text in the Hindi vernacular literary tradition. Most importantly Keshavadas personalized the classical Sanskrit convention by personifying the Divine Lovers Krishna and Radha as the ideal couple. Through their interactions, the palette of human emotions - distress, longing, anger, jealously, sadness, joyous union – became relatable to everyone.

Paintings depicting this subject gained great currency in Rajput and Pahari ateliers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Artists reveled in being able to employ a plethora of pictorial and compositional devices to express the emotional state of their beloved subjects – Radha and Krishna. Illustrations to nayika bheda series such as the present lot, shared common, interchangeable features with paintings illustrating other texts such as the Bihari Sat Sai, composed around the same time.

Compare with a Sat Sai illustration depicting the ardent Krishna conveying his message of love directly to his paramour Radha in the collections of the National Museum New Delhi, see M. S. Randhawa, Kangra Paintings of the Bihari Sat Sai, New Delhi, 1982, pl. XVIII. Also compare with an illustration to the Rasikapriya depicting Krishna eavesdropping on a conversation between Radha and her confidant, see Sotheby’s New York, 20th March 2013, lot 315.