#MuseumJigsaw: Sohni-Mahiwal by Sobha Singh

“Play is the highest form of research” said Albert Einstein and we couldn’t agree more. While there are numerous ways to engage with art and understand it, we particularly love playing with it! Be it crosswords, scavenger hunts or jigsaw puzzles – we bring you lots of ways to up your Museum-Mojo! Our jigsaw-series will cover a range of iconic Indian art and stories behind them.

When you think of 20th century modern art in Punjab, Sobha Singh is one of the first names that come to mind. His paintings of the Sikh Gurus is so popular that it is rare to find a Sikh home without a print of his paintings. Did you know, he painted around 5 versions of this masterpiece – the first one being in 1947. In this painting he captures the timeless & tragic tale of Sohni and Mahiwal.

You can see this artwork at the Sobha Singh Art Gallery in Andretta (Kangra).

The story of Sohni-Mahiwal

The timeless classic Sohni-Mahiwal is set against the backdrop of a village by the River Chenab, some time around the 18th century. A trader from Uzbekistan, Izzat Baig fell in love with Sohni – the daughter of a potter. As his fellow travelers prepared to leave for home, he decided to stay back, just to be around Sohni. He worked as a “cattle-herder”, thereby earning him the title “Mahiwal”. As word about their romance began to spread, Sohni’s family – in a bid to protect their honour- arranged her marriage with another potter. A devastated Mahiwal however, did not give up and moved to a small hut across the river from Sohni’s marital home. Each night, Sohni would travel across the river to meet Mahiwal. She did not know how to swim, and so she used one of the big earthen pots to sail her through. One night, her sister-in-law found out about the couple and decided to teach Sohni a lesson. The sister-in-law replaced Sohni’s earthen pot with an unbaked one. At night, as usual, Sohni set off – midway through the river, she realized the pot was melting away and eventually Sohni drowned. Mahiwal, hearing her cries, rushed to her aid, but the current was particularly strong that day, and just as he reached her, he drowned as well.

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