An Online Exhibition of Postcards by Nandalal Bose and His Contemporaries
The South Asian Arts Council (SAAC) is a forum for the exploration, appreciation, and enjoyment the art and culture of the South Asian Civilizations.
The South Asian Arts Council (SAAC) supports The San Diego Museum of Art in its mission to promote knowledge and appreciation of the arts of South Asia.
An Online Exhibition of Postcards by Nandalal Bose and His Contemporaries
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A Nayika Watches the Moonrise and Waits for Her Lover!
This lovely painting is from the Binney Collection. It is a Pahari painting from Mandi, ca. 1820 (# 1990.1252), in watercolor and gold by Sajnu, a well-known artist.
Here we see a nayika (heroine) of the Rasikapriya (The Lover’s Breviary), an epic poem composed in the 16th c CE. It is night, with the moon low in the sky (is it setting?). The candles are extinguished. Her expression and gestures seem to imply that she is wondering where is her lover? Has he stood her up?
In the Indian context, the ideal body full of vigor and beauty is always the body adorned. Join the virtual lecture to learn more.
A Prince Spying at the Preparations of his Mistress!
This charming painting is from the Binney Collection. It is a Pahari painting from Kangra, ca. 1800 (# 1990.1281), in watercolor and gold.
Although the prince is behind a lattice screen (jali), spying on his mistress getting ready, presumably for their encounter later, I'm pretty sure the mistress and her attendants know he's there!!
Observe the knowing glances and smiles of the attendants, while the mistress herself is lowering her face in (mock?) shyness. One of the attendants is slipping bangles over her right wrist.
This beautifully executed painting has all the characteristics of Kangra style - rounded human forms with ovals giving structure to thighs and back, generally leaning forwards. Pahari (mountain regions) princes and patrons delighted in such idealized scenes.
Subterranean Ghosts: The Vanishing Stepwells of India - San Diego Museum of Art
Explore India’s magnificent subterranean stepwells in this virtual lecture by author Victoria Lautman.
A Glimpse of the Loved One!
This delightful painting is from the Binney Collection. It is a Rajasthani painting from Bundi, ca. 1750 (# 1990.686), in watercolor and gold.
The heroine of this poetic interlude was in the process of getting dressed after her bath when a breeze kicks up and blows aside a curtain to reveal a man watching her. She sees him in the mirror being held for her by her handmaid, and she instinctively draws up her knees and covers her breasts, while simultaneously leaning in closer to get a better look. Rajput patrons delighted in idealized scenes that evoke piquant emotions, such
as this mix of surprise, embarrassment, and newly kindled excitement.
Explore India’s magnificent subterranean stepwells in this virtual lecture by author Victoria Lautman.
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Nightingale Singing Her Beauty!
This charming and beautifully crafted painting is from the Binney Collection, titled: A beauty at a window with a bird, ca. 1675 (# 1990.489). This painting, in watercolor and gold, is from Hyderabad, India, in Deccani style.
"All that the nightingale can do provokes the rose’s laughter
What we call love is really a derangement of the mind
A hundred times I slipped the bond of love, and I was free
But what am I to do? My heart is foe to liberty."
(trans. from the Urdu by Ralph Russell)
This ghazal (a form of an amatory or ode) above invokes the relationship of the nightingale to his indifferent beloved, the rose. The woman at the window in this painting embodies this mystical ideal. She displays herself confidently, like a courtesan, locking her lover in her gaze. The rosy pinks and reds of her dress are framed in a green dupatta (shawl-like scarf), like the green leaves that surround the rose. And WE are the silly nightingale, singing the beauty of the rose, wondering if she will come as promised.
Today is World Elephant Day!
This extraordinary and very large painting is from the Binney Collection, titled: Sansar Chand seated on an elephant, surrounded by an army on foot and on horseback, ca. 1790 (# 1990.1286).
This painting, which is 40 in x 60 in, depicts Raja Sansar Chand who rule the state of Kangra in the late 18th - early 19th c. We see a sea of soldiers, some mounted on horses, and carrying a wide array of weapons. But our eye is drawn to the elephant carrying the Raja. The Raja's status is established by the fact that he is riding an elephants, the largest and tallest animal in the scene. Notice that there is nothing behind the elephant, to ensure that the Raja's importance is crystal clear.
Elephants have been hugely important in South Asia and Southeast Asia since ancient times. They are widely revered, commonly associated with major deities such as Lakshmi and Indra. They were also important militarily, and as status symbols for rulers. Finally, they were also useful for moving heavy objects, such as timber.
These magnificent creatures, unfortunately, are facing multiple threats to their survival, primarily habitat loss and poaching.
Maharana Jagat Singh II riding the elephant Bhramargaj
This week from the Binney Collection @ SDMA is a Rajasthani painting from Mewar, ca. 1750, watercolor and gold on paper. (Acc No: 1990.628).
This painting is currently on view in the The Elephant in the Room exhibition (online) at the San Diego Museum of Art (https://www.sdmart.org/exhibition/the-elephant-in-the-room-indian-paintings-from-the-edwin-binney-3rd-collection/).
It is a large painting for an Indian "miniature" at appx. 22 ins x 27 ins. It is by a known artist - Nuruddin - whose works are in several important museums. This work depicts Jagat Singh II (1709-1751) riding a large elephant named Bhramargaj. There are several versions of this work scattered around museums.
Madhavanala Enchants the Court of Govindachandra with His Music.
This week from the Binney Collection @ SDMA is a Pahari painting from Mandi, ca. 1845, watercolor and gold on paper. (Acc No: 1990.1145).
This painting depicts a scene from a love saga centered on Madhavanala, a handsome and exceedingly talented musician. In this work we see Madhavanala performing for King Govindachandra. There are a number of young women, dressed in red saris, listening to Madhavanala and immediately fall in love with him. Jealous of this female attention drawn by the musician, the courtiers entreat the king to rid the court of this rival. You can see the courtiers on the lower right of the work, fretting, wagging their fingers, and generally not enamored by Madhavanala.
Spanning the world's largest democracy, Indian storytellers rediscover their country and witness the completion of another leg of an epic walk across the world.
A Lady Disconsolate, While the Others Play Holi.
This week from the Binney Collection @ SDMA is a Pahari painting from Kangra, ca. 1790, watercolor, silver and gold on paper. (Acc No: 1990.1273).
This charming and heartfelt scene comes from the 16th c. CE poem Rasikapriya, which is about love, longing, jealousy and regret. This painting depicts one of the poem's heroines whose husband is away on a temporary sojourn. She is too distraught to participate in the festival of Holi (aka Festival of Color), seen happening in the back pavilion, where a group of women are dowsing each other jets of colored water, while our heroine, in the foreground, hangs her head in sorrow, being comforted by her retinue (notice their knowing glances!). One of the women is offering her a hookah (a practice popularized by the Moghuls).
Krishna Flutes Under a Tree.
This week from the Binney Collection @ SDMA is Rajasthani painting from Kishangarh, ca. 1690, watercolor and gold on paper. (Acc No: 1990.747).
Krishna in the center, surrounded by Gopis (milkmaids) in his dancing pose is playing the flute, the sound of which can also affect the weather (notice the stormy sky). This painting depicts Vrindavan, a city in North India, and its fabled gardens, which are associated with the mythology of Krishna, particularly his childhood, and continues to be closely associated with worship of Krishna.
In this painting we see the gardens of Vrindavan (aka Brindaban), with flora and fauna depicted in detail. Vrindavan, the current city, is believed to have been established in the 16th and 17th c. CE, roughly around the time of this painting. Whether the temples in the background are accurate representations is difficult to assess, but their architectural style is consistent with temples seen there today.
July 1st was "JOKE DAY" in the US. To celebrate this humorous activity, I set myself a challenge to find a "jokey" painting in the Binney Collection @ SDMA. Believe it or not, I think I found a "perfect" work for July 1, titled : A pair of Lohans (?) or other dirty old men!
(Mid-19th C, watercolor and gold on paper; Acc No: 1990.937).
What a remarkable title! Lohans (aka Arahats or Arahants) are Buddhist persons who have been delivered from earthly existence due to their great wisdom, courage and supernatural power. On the other hand, they could be just dirty old men... you choose!
SDMA is reopening soon!
Welcome back! #SDMA is reopening!⠀
𝗝𝘂𝗹𝘆 𝟲 | Members Only Opening⠀
𝗝𝘂𝗹𝘆 𝟳 | Members Only Opening⠀
𝗝𝘂𝗹𝘆 𝟴 | 𝘊𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘥⠀
𝗝𝘂𝗹𝘆 𝟵 | Public Grand Opening⠀
For more details, guidelines, and restrictions visit SDMArt.org/reopening/
The exhibition 𝐵𝑜𝑢𝑔𝑢𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑢 & 𝐴𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑎 has been extended through August 2!⠀
#SanDiegoMuseumofArt #MuseumAtHome #MuseumFromHome #MuseumQuarantine #SDMuseumsAtHome #SanDiegoMuseum #SanDiego #BalboaPark #SDMAYourWay #SanDiegoArt #ArtinSanDiego
June 24th is "SWIM A LAP" day. To celebrate this healthy activity, I want to share with you a painting from the Binney Collection @ SDMA: Krishna Swims with the Gopis; dated 1719, watercolor and gold on paper. (Acc No: 1990.618)
This small, charming painting is in the Mewari style (Rajasthan, India), which shows three scenes, from top to bottom:
1) Radha, who is Krishna's beloved, is walking along the river bank with her friend.
2) Radha and Krishna (on the right) partly unclothe and enter the river.
3) They swim towards each other, presumably to embrace (or just swim some laps!)
Hit the pool - when it safe to do so! In the meantime, enjoy this delightful version of swimming laps.
This week from the Binney Collection @ SDMA: Two paintings in the Kishangarh style:
1) A Beautiful Woman Seated Against a Bolster (1990.763)
2) A Beautiful Woman, Framed by an Arch (1990.769).
Both these paintings are from late 18th century, watercolor and gold on paper
These works are examples Kishangarh school of painting, an 18th century Rājasthanī style of Indian painting that arose in the princely state of Kishangarh (central Rājasthān state), India.
These works are distinguished by the individualistic facial type. The sensitive, refined features are drawn with pointed noses and chins, receding foreheads, lotus-shaped and half-closed eyes, and serpentine locks of hair.
It is speculated that the distinctive facial features are based on Bani Thani (“Lady of Fashion”), who was a lover, and eventually wife, of Raja Sāvant Singh of Kishangarh. The master artist largely responsible for transmitting this new visual idiom was Nihal Chand.
SDMA have several more examples from Kishangarh that will be posted in the future.
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This week from the Binney Collection @ SDMA: A Himalayan Cheer Pheasant; ca. 1620, watercolor and gold on paper. (Acc No: 1990.342).
Exotic flora and fauna were favorite subjects of many Mughal emperors, including Jahangir. He commissioned many exquisite plant and animal paintings that became incorporated into royal albums. In his memoirs, Jahangir made detailed notes about this particular pheasant, which was brought to him as a gift, remarking especially on the superior flavor of its meat!
Given that this bird that was once an individual creature (before it was eaten), should we consider this painting a portrait?
The cheer pheasant (Catreus wallichii) is found in the highlands and scrublands of the Himalayan regions of India, Nepal, Kashmir, and Pakistan.
This week from the Binney Collection @ SDMA: A European woman seated under a branch, with an owl, by Muhammad Sadiq; early 1700s, watercolor and gold on paper. (Acc No: 1990.369)
This charming painting is from Isfahan, Iran. It shows a European woman dressed in the fashion current during the time of Queen Anne of England (reigned 1702–14). She is seated on a European-style chair with her elbow resting on a pillow, holding one finger to her chin, the other pointing to the setting sun.
Why do we think it's setting sun? It is suggested by the white owl on the lower left, the bats circling above, a star in the sky and possibly the moon behind the branches.
Notice anything odd about her feet? They are shod in Greco-Roman sandals, and not Queen Anne period shoes! This point, along with the owl, suggests a connection with Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.
Muhammad Sadiq, the artist, signed his name in the gold inscription in the upper right corner. He was probably an artist who specialized in painting European subjects in the Safavid court in Isfahan.
Today is World Meditation Day!
Let's meditate on this early Jain painting from the Binney Collection: Rishabhanatha seated in two stages of meditation, ca. 1680 (# 1990.214).
This painting depicts Rishabhanatha (Sanskrit: “Lord Bull”), the first of 24 Tirthankaras (“Ford-Makers”) of Jainism. A Tirthankara helps (guides) one across the sea of interminable rebirths and deaths.
I'm uncertain what two stages of meditation are being depicted here. He is in the lotus position. Notice the way the eyes are depicted stylistically, to denote intense internal meditate state.
Honoring Memorial Day. Painting from the Binney collection - The Bhagavad Gita - a tribute to all those who sacrifice their lives on the frontlines to protect ours !
On this Memorial Day, it might be worthwhile contemplating on this Pahari painting from the Binney Collection: Dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, ca. 1820 (# 1990.1251).
This painting depicts the central moral dilemma of war in the Indian epic Mahabharata - whether the upcoming war is just. The dialogue about merits of this war is between Arjuna, the warrior-king and Krishna, his charioteer, and in reality an avatar of Vishnu. The conversation on the battlefield is now known as Bhagavad Gita (God's Song).
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Our Mission The South Asian Arts Council (SAAC), formerly the Committee for the Arts of the Indian Subcontinent (CAIS), established in 2003, supports The San Diego Museum of Art in its mission to promote knowledge and appreciation of the arts of the South Asian civilizations. The world-renowned Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of over 1,400 Indian miniature paintings serves as the focal point of the museum’s South Asian holdings. SAAC’s broad perspective supports a full range of art forms from the region – modern and contemporary art as well as the traditional visual arts and culture.
SAAC offers its members a diverse experience of South Asian art and culture through its lecture series, study group, travel programs, exhibitions and curatorial support.
Programs Programs include a variety of activities, scheduled on a regular basis, such as lectures and presentations, movies & performing arts events, Social/cultural mixers, tours and visits to museums and collections. If you wish to attend our programs as a guest – please contact us.
Study Group Meetings The Indic art study group meets every other month in the Museum boardroom on Saturdays at 10:30 am. The dates and topics are announced well in advance.
Benefits of Membership: • Lectures by artists, curators and scholars • Special movie showings and performing arts events • Participation in the Indic Art study group • Art related tours • Opportunity to meet people with shared interests • Community support of the arts