“I feel reviving a dying art is much better than continuing the existing art forms. Hence, I have dedicated over 20 years of my life, in breathing life to ‘Basoli,’ a unique miniature painting style, ruined due to earthquake,” said Eminent Artist Kamal Ahmed M from Gadag


Basoli paintings

Basoli paintings derive their name from the village named Basoli, in Himachal Pradesh in India, where they originated. These evolved in the 17th and 18th centuries as a distinctive style of painting by fusion of Hindu mythology, Mughal miniature techniques, and folk art of the local hills.

https://www.indiamart.com/harmonyarts-vadodara/basohli-painting.html

HISTORY

The roots of the art form can be traced to the 14th century. The Basoli school of painting developed with the decline of the Mughal empire, after the death of Emperor Aurangzeb. During his reign, master artists and painters began leaving the royal court and started seeking patronage at the courts which flourished far away from the center of the empire, as Emperor Aurangzeb did not pay them much patronage. One of the biggest such centers was the village Basoli. Two types of miniature art developed in Basoli. One was the regular miniatures which may be called classic painting. The second was eroticism in miniature.

The entire village was destroyed by an earthquake and so, very few paintings have been discovered among the ruins.

The discovered Basoli paintings were first introduced to the world in the Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India published in 1921. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy believed them to be the Jammu style of painting, which also contributed to their style. Coomaraswamy observed them to be “designed with a decorative simplicity very suggestive of large scale mural art.” They had not been categorized as Basoli paintings yet, and thus, there were certain errors in classification and they were often confused with other art forms with similar roots.

THEMES

The most popular themes depicted in Basoli paintings derive from the Shringara literature like Rasamanjari, Gita Govinda, and Ragaamala. Painters involved in the art form also painted portraits of local rulers, who provided them patronage. One of the important royal families most closely linked with the history of the painting during and after the Mughal period is of the Padhas of Basoli. The Raja also got his portrait made by the court artists.

[insert portrait of abovementioned king]

Portrait of Raja Dhiraj Pal, Basohli, c. 1720–25

One of the most popular themes in Basoli painting particularly during the reign of Raja Kripal Pal was the Rasamanjari written by the poet Bhanudutta. A Basohli Rasamanjari series was illustrated by Devidas, a local painter of Basoli belonging to the Tarkhan community, which produced many skilled artists.

The Basoli school of painting draws inspiration from the Mughal School as well as the Rajasthani School of painting and they have sometimes been confused with each other.

CHARACTERISTICS

Bright colors like red, blue, and yellow, bold lines, red borders, lustrous enamel like colors, and rich symbols are characteristic of this style of painting. The faces of the figures have receding foreheads and large bulging eyes shaped like lotus petals. Their rich costumes, stylized faces, and expressive eyes gave individuality to the Basoli paintings.

[insert vibrant pictures]

On the threshold of youthOn the Threshold of Youth, illustration to the Rasamanjari, Basohli, c. 1695

 

The Churning of the Ocean of Milk, Basohli, c. 1730

 

Krishna Stealing the Clothes of Cowherdesses, from the Bhagavata Puran

Nayikas in Rasamanjari. Basohli Painting (18th Century)

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-BvuIMiCbnrs/UjIt7iYQbUI/AAAAAAAAPxQ/goOBfqyFIHk/s1600/Rasamanjari_Nayika.jpg

These paintings resemble the Rajasthani and Malwa school of paintings. The Dogra Art Museum in Jammu has an exquisite collection of Basoli paintings.


Content Research by Saif Ansari and Written by Seemab Alam

The sound of moving water, be it the waves of a sea hitting the shore or the gentle flow of a river, has always enthralled the best of us. To commemorate the essence of life, Nazariya brings you Jalatarangam, a percussion instrument that is tuned not with strings but with water!

Jalatarangam, The Instrument

Jalatarangam, The Instrument

Jalatarangam is an Indian melodic percussion instrument that involves numerous ceramic or metal bowls filled with different levels of water aligned in unique patterns. When the edges of the bowl are stroked, they produce water waves that produce a sound so melodious that one would never really want it to come to a halt.

The emergence of Jalatarangam is found in Vātsyāyana’s Kamasutra as playing on musical glasses filled with water. However today this instrument has tumbled into anonymity despite its historical prominence. Being the most traditional Indian classical music, some scholars think that in the ancient period these were in routine practice around the eastern border of India.

The medieval musical treatise of Sangeet Parijaat have accomplished this instrument under Ghan-Vadya i.e. an Idiophpnic instrument in which sound is produced by striking a surface, also called concussion idiophones. The Sangeet Saar (manuscript on classical Indian music & dance) considered one with 22 cups to be complete Jalatarangam and one with 15 cups to be of mediocre status. The cups are of varying sizes were made of either bronze or porcelain.

Jaltarang, The Instrument

                       The bowls used in Jalatarangam

Today only china bowls are preferred by artists, numbering around 16 in normal use. The number of cups depends on the melody being played, in order to play this instrument the cups are arranged in a half circle in front of the player who can reach them all easily. Water is poured into the cups and pitch is changed by adjusting the volume of water in the cup. The player then softly hits the cups with a wooden stick on the border to get the sound. However playing this instrument is not at all easy, it requires a lot of skill to produce music leading to trance. Sangeet Saar also mentions that if the player can rotate the water through a quick touch of the stick, nuances and finer variations of the note can be achieved.

Poets of the Krishna cult have mentioned the wonders of Jalatarangam in their literature work. Many contemporary players of Carnatic music do attempt to produce Gamak (can be defined as a fast meend or spanning 2-3 notes normally delivered with deliberate force and vigour and repeated in an oscillatory manner) often in the face off sounds going skewed lacking required control. George Harrison played the Jalatarangam on the title track of his 1982 album Gone Troppo. In India, Seethalakshmi Doraiswamy, Shashikala Dani and Nemani Somayajulu are accomplished Jaltarang players. Also one of the major Jalatarangam pro is artist Kottayam TS Ajith Kumar hailing from Kerala. His appealing passion towards this instrument led to his creativity of incorporating both melody and laya (the tempo or speed of a piece), thus opening to a new style of playing the instrument. Today he performs in concerts worldwide and promoting the music Jalatarangam which has fallen into concealment today with the emergence of the extensive variety of music.

TS Ajith Kumar

                      Kottayam TS Ajith Kumar performing in a show

As being one of a unique type of music and the most soothing one as well, Jalatarangam should be highlighted and promoted so that it can take a comeback from its obscurity and can once again leave its audience with ecstasy. As of how appealing is the idea of water waves with proper techniques when laid together releases sound that is so alluring!

 


Author: Seemab Alam

Image Sources: 

http://i1.tribune.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/481629-DastangoiPhotoPublicity- 1355931408-393-640×480.JPG                       http://ste.india.com/sites/default/files/2015/12/18/442871-d1.jpg

“Woh Dastan aisi thi ki na palke chapke na kadam dagmagate,

Woh Dastan aisi thi ki hum wahi tham se gaye the..

Us Dastango ki awaaz aur uske andaaz me thi kuch aisi baat ki jaha jaha woh hume lete gaya.. waha waha hum bas chalte gaye aur khote gaye..”

The medieval romances, the tales of travails and lovers, stories of adventure, magic and warfare. All of these epics narrated orally in nature, The Dastan and the adjoin art we scarcely know about is Dastangoi: The lost art form of Urdu storytelling. Coming all the way from 16th century, Iran, dastangoi is the compound of two Persian words Dastan meaning story and Goi which means to tell a Dastan.

The origin of dastangoi goes back to the pre-islamic Arabia and with it the spread of Islam dastangoi came all the way to Iran and to Delhi in India. From Delhi dastangoi toured its way to Lucknow by the 18th century. All this happened during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 when many artists, writers and dastangos moved from Delhi to Lucknow.

When dastangoi gained popularity and started its regular performances at various locations of the cities, there was a time when it became very popular among the opium addicts and it became one the most vital part of their gatherings at opium houses. The early dastangos told the tales of magic, war and adventure and borrowed spontaneously from other stories like the Arabian nights, stories written by Rumi and in India, they also narrated the stories from Panchatantra and later own the tales of freedom fighters and other major events.

By all this time dastangoi was attaining its fame but during 1920’s era of sound and cinema’s revolution in India things started getting different as in 1928 Mir Baqar Ali died, who was the last famous dastango of India. With that this classic art form started losing its charm.

By now people started seeing dastangoi as a dying art form but Ankit Chadha, the very young and among the only 12 professional dastango of India and the founder of Heptullha a ‘heptular’ company that conducts storytelling sessions for adults and children alike has a very different opinion regarding the same. When asked if he considers dastangoi as a dying art form? He says, “I do not. But, my opinion does not make it alive or dying. Also, the question is whether we see Dastangoi as simply a performance art form, or as a living culture of storytelling which it once was. As a performing arts form, in May 2016, we complete 11 years of Dastangoi as it was reinvented by Mahmood Farooqui. He has led this journey with great success – from no traditional proponents to more than a thousand shows by 25 performers trained by him. We have created dozens of modern dastans – as varied as biographies of Manto and Kabir to Dastan-e-Sedition on the trial of Dr. Binayak Sen to Dastan Alice Ki, the adaptation of Carroll’s children’s classic. All this, however, its still the beginning. While our audience is growing (and not dying at all), Dastangoi is still seen as something exotic by many of them. I want to see these listeners perceive Dastangoi as a part of their everyday culture as much as I see it as my way of life.”

Image Source: http://d152j5tfobgaot.cloudfront.net/wpcontent/uploads/2015/05/Yourstory_ankit_chadha_dastangoi.jpg

There seems to be a tangible connection to this intangible heritage. Intangible as the very existence of this art form has got a vague approach of people. But noticing the encounter of Ankit with this classic art form which shares a very low limelight these days proves that yet being immaterial, dastangoi has got a very solid connection to the people of India with the efforts of artists like Ankit making it possible. Upon this Ankit says, “While Dastangoi is a classic art form, it has still not become established in the eyes of state or society like music, theatre and dance are. We are still building the ground and I feel fortunate to be a key player in this process. And as far as the limelight is concerned, the inner journey means much more to me personally than the perception of the media and others.”

Passion plays a key role in upholding the art forms that tend to be dying. Also the responsibility of not letting go of what was ours is another thing. Apart from Dastangoi being performed around festivals like Jashan e Rekhta and others, Jamia Millia Islamia – a central university in New Delhi inculcates among its students to uphold these art forms. Through this the youngsters of the nation are connecting to this art form and appreciating their inclination towards the same.

It’s said that when Dastangos perform a Dastan they present it very lively. Like moving pictures and sometimes they themselves became pictures. Sometimes they speak like old women sometimes like kids and sometimes like ghosts or whatever the Dastan demands them to be. Although considered a fading art form of Urdu storytelling, Dastangoi is being recognised more and more among people of all ages. It emerges as a phoenix and is ready for all the pleasure of being born again and being loved again.