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Old 26th April 2012, 04:33 PM   #1
Stan S.
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Default Art imitating life...Or is it the other way around?

Recently, I began to develop an interest in Indian miniature paintings (a. k. a. illuminations). Many are produced to this day for the tourist trade but I am intrigued by the actual period paintings because they often provide a valuable insight on various Indo Persian weapons/armaments and their use. In my research I stumbled upon these two items that are painted in distinctly different styles, yet appear to commemorate the same event - I lion hunt by the Moghul ruler Jahangir sometime in the first half of the 17th century. The first one is owned by a museum in Canada, the 2nd was auctioned off by Christies some time ago. What struck me as note worthy is that they appear to depict the same event as viewed by two different people. There are just too many details that are similar to be rulled out as a coincidence. Of course there is always a possibility that one was deliberately painted to resemble the other... I wonder how accurate may these actually be?
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Old 26th April 2012, 04:36 PM   #2
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By the way, I have a huge (2000 by 3000 pixels) copy of the first image that shows many intricate details, which can not be seen in a resized version. If anyone is interested, please feel free to PM me with your e-mail address and I will be happy to share it with you.
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Old 26th April 2012, 05:24 PM   #3
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I LIKE THESE TOO NO DOUBT ORIGINAL DRAWINGS WERE DONE BY ONE OR A GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS DURING THE HUNT PERHAPS SOME WRITING DOWN EVENTS AND SOME DRAWING SKETCHES AND ACCOMPANYING DIFFERENT GROUPS. THERE WAS NO SHORTAGE OF MANPOWER ON THESE HUNTS IN INDIA.
THESE TWO STRIKE ME AS PERHAPS REPRESENTING A COMPOSITE OF SEVERAL DIFFERENT EVENTS AS WELL AS DIFFERENT GROUPS IN THE HUNT. THE SECOND ONE HAS A TRAINED CHEETAH THAT IS NOT REPRESENTED IN THE COLOR VERSION. DIFFERENT DRAWINGS WERE PROBABLY PRESENTED TO THE ROYALTY WHO SELECTED WHAT THEY LIKED BEST AND ORDERED THE FINAL PRODUCT.
I HAVE SEEN ROUGH SKETCHES, PAINTINGS AND WEAVINGS WITH LESS DETAIL, COLOR PAINTINGS AND TOP OF THE LINE PAINTINGS ON IVORY SOMETIMES INLAYED WITH GOLD AND JEWELS. INDIA AND PERSIA SEEM TO HAVE THE BEST WORK IN THE IVORY EXAMPLES I HAVE SEEN.

THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS I MISSED THE FIRST TIME. PERHAPS DIFFERENT INDIVIDUALS AND TIME PERIODS AND HUNTS COULD BE DETERMINED BY THE VARIATIONS IN ATTIRE OF THE PEOPLE, CLOTHES HATS WEAPONS ECT. ANOTHER PUZZLE IS WHY WOULD THE HUNTING ELEPHANTS IN BOTH PICTURES HAVE BELLS ON THEM WHICH I WOULD THINK WOULD DRIVE THE PREY AWAY.? THE WHITE HORSE IN THE FIRST PICTURE HAS RED CUFFS ON ALL ITS LEGS IS THAT DECORATION OR PROTECTION? IN HINDU MYTHOLOGY THERE ARE MANY STORIES OF THE EXPLOITS OF ALL THE DIETYS. IT SEEMS LIKELY RECORDING THESE STORIES OF ROYALTY FOLLOWS THE SAME PATTERNS IN STORY AND ART.

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Old 26th April 2012, 05:38 PM   #4
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Moghul Art.

Salaams all... As I understand it Moghul Art was a two dimensional form and carried out to honour the various Moghul leaders down the ages.. Apparently painted by numerous students and artists... the younger students or apprentices taking on the easier subject matter before passing it on for the older and more senior artists to complete the finer details on the more difficult subject matter. They seem to have titles like "Jehangir kills the Lion" or somesuch explanation and done by different artists and art houses will have different emphasis and detail..There are a lot of very well made copies though an original will be well sought after. Even today the same recipes are used for the antique paints.
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Old 26th April 2012, 06:31 PM   #5
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i especially like the first one as it has a greyhound in it. like their relatives, the saluki, they are noble animals. the second has a few cur 'pi' dogs, below the cheetah, which would not have been much good hunting lions. though i have a greyhound living with me (the tattooed dog i referred to under my avatar) i am completely objective of course.

..and the two men in the first scrambling up the tree to join the monkey to avoid the lion is amusing. the second hasn't got a monkey. shame.

i noted also the hunting cheetah. many people are not aware that cheetah were in fact domesticated early on and used as hunting animals. they are slightly faster than greyhounds in the short run, but slower in the long runs.
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Old 26th April 2012, 07:07 PM   #6
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Domesticated Asian cheetahs, Acinonyx jubatus venaticus were wildly used in India to drive out small game animals during the hunt until they became extinct in the early/mid 1900s. A small population still survives in Iran but it is a very much endagered species on a brink of extintion.

Not too many people know that "cheetah" is a derivative of a Hindu word for "spotty". Cheetahs and hawks were the animals traditionally used in India for hunting. Dogs took over in that role only after being introduced by the Europeans and because of the cheetahs decline.
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Old 26th April 2012, 07:23 PM   #7
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And you are correct in pointing out the differences in the paintings. Thank you all! However, there still so many of the same elements that make me think as if these paintings trying to tell the same story rather than just being geneic hunting scenes:

1. Central figure of two men on an elephant's back: The one in the front (must be the Big Kahuna/Jahingir himself) stabbing down with a spear. Note the the elephant harness is virtually the same in both paintings

2. A de-horsed fellow being mauled by a lion while his horse is galloping away (you may not see it but if you blow up the first picture, it is very clear that he is pulling a katar from his sash while having his face ripped off)

3. Another rider attacking from the right and slashing at the lion's back with his tulwar

4. There is a 2nd lion present in both paintings, and it is chasing 2 men up the tree in the upper right corner

5. There is a figure at the top that appears to be calling for reinforcements that approach from the left upper corner

6. Both paintings show additional hunters at the bottom that are ready to jump into the fight
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Old 27th April 2012, 05:31 AM   #8
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Hello,

In European mediaeval illuminations we often find nearly identical scenes in widely different contexts and different places. Consider that at some point some depictions become iconic and subject to considerable copy. Either one of your paintings might have copied one another, or more likely both were interpretations of a common painting. So it's not necessarily that they are two renditions of the same event as seen by different artists, but they are renditions of a common illustrations, perhaps from an important original.

If Indian art and monasticism worked anything like in Europe, then one cultural/political/religious centre would have had an original depiction of this particular event. That depiction was subsequently either studied and copied by artists from other centres, or it was lent out to those centres for further copy and re-interpretation. A few central images and themes would remain, the rest subject to artistic license.

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Old 27th April 2012, 12:08 PM   #9
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Off topic, I know, but I hope it gets through.
Several years ago I was at a viewing of "Arts of the Indian and Islamic World" at a major London saleroom. I was admiring a rare Khurassan brass ewer (12th Century, estimate +/- 100K!) with a couple of other people and the saleroom assistant when we were joined by a VERY well and expensively dressed Indian gentleman, I would guess in his mid thirties.
The assistant expounded on the ewer, "and here you can see, inlaid in silver, the prince and his courtiers out hunting; here is the prince; here is his falconer and falcon; here are his salukis and here are his hunting cheetahs".
The Indian gentleman nodded, " very nice, very nice indeed. I have two at home"
The saleroom assistant, "Really? two khurassan ewers ! "
The Indian gentleman, "No, two cheetahs."

A true story.

Last edited by Richard G : 27th April 2012 at 12:52 PM.
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