WHAT IS IT?
WHAT IS THE STORY?
This painting captures a crowded scene – a procession passing a palatial facade. At the bottom-right of this section, a prince-figure stands beneath his royal umbrella holding an elephant goad. Behind him is an attendant, bearing a chauri (Yak-Tail fly whisk). Both were probably mounted on an elephant, for in front of them is a canopy along with a flying bird and part of a billowing cloth standard. Beyond a painted screen, eight swaggering, bright-eyed soldiers march dizzily along, waving their South-India straight-bladed swords, threatening flights of insects with their fly-whisks in good humour. The architectural setting, the costumes, the packed figurative composition and the general atmosphere of the courtly life is reminiscent of the Nayak Dynasty from Southern India. The celebration of beauty and the pursuit of pleasure were central themes in Nayaka court culture as can be seen in this painting.
The Nayaka Influence: The daily cycle of the life of a King has been ritualised to the extent that it resembles the daily cycle of worship performed for a deity. Much of the Nayaka courtly art has a voyeuristic aspect to it. This painting evokes the celebrated poem of that time – Raghunathanayakabhudayamu – A day in the Life of Raghunatha Nayaka – the Nayaka ruler of Thanjavur. In the poem, the story of a king’s day is chronicled and his private pastimes, i.e eating, entertaining, lovemaking – are laid bare for the public.
WHERE IS IT?
This painting was part of Krishna Riboud’s collection, now in the National Museum for Asian Art Guimet (Musée National des arts asiatiques Guimet ), France
National Museum for Asian Art Guimet
The Met Publications
The Heritage Lab is a digital platform connecting museums & citizens through campaigns, public-engagement programs & free access content for youth, families and kids.