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A new resource exploring the histories of art in South Asia


ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART

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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART
  • Kalighat Painting

    A tradition of watercolour painting that originated in Calcutta (now Kolkata),…


  • Johnston & Hoffmann

    Founded in 1882 by PA Johnston and Theodore Julius Hoffmann, Johnston…


  • Tutinama

    A fourteenth-century literary work, the Tutinama, literally meaning “Tales of a…


  • Bhuri Bai

    A renowned Bhil artist, Bhuri Bai is the first artist of…



CLUSTERS

Curated groups of articles from across our Encyclopedia

CLUSTERS
An image of a mudra (hand gesture) depicting the thumb touching the tip of the ring finger.

CLUSTER

Sacred Gestures: Mudras in Buddhist Iconography

Mudras are a set of hand gestures and finger positions that serve as symbols in Buddhist art, representing the Buddha...

Includes 6 articles

Bhumisparsha Mudra Anjali Mudra Abhaya Mudra Dhyana Mudra Dharmachakra Mudra Varada Mudra

We're excited to announce our collaboration as knowledge partners with Microsoft on this AI-led platform. Through INTERWOVEN, you can make connections between textiles and artworks from around the world.

Hunting Coat, c. 1620-1630, India. Courtesy Victoria & Albert Museum, London.


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This royal chhatri, or umbrella, features intricate patterns and textures that we also see on the attire worn by the prince and princess portrayed underneath it. Their traditional garments, including jamas, angarkhas, paijamas and dupattas, contribute to our knowledge of culture and fashion at the time.

The vibrant red of the tent’s fabric here reflects the expertise of South Asian dyeing communities who were pioneers when it came to fixing vivid and long-lasting colours to cloth. The red colour we see is likely the result of the use of natural dyes such as lac or madder.

The painting depicts a huntress making love to a courtier who simultaneously aims his arrow at a tiger. Testing the limits of pleasure as well as strength, hunting has served as a metaphor for political and martial power, and the motif of tigers being hunted features widely across South Asian art.

Soft pastel colours and depictions of figures in profile as we see here, characterise Pahari painting styles of Rajput kingdoms at Basohli, Kulu, Guler and Kangra. The patronage of these courts is especially known to have established the careers of master artists such as Nainsukh and Manaku. Miniature paintings from these courts have also inspired contemporary artists such as Nilima Sheikh.

In addition to the intimate depiction of the two lovers we see here, notions of adoration are conveyed across South Asian art in a variety of ways. Mughal and Rajput paintings, for instance, often depict lovers swooning at each other’s sight.

The panels of this hunting enclosure, or qamargah, divide the scene temporally and spatially. Fabrics such as these, have been used historically to also construct regal tents and shamianas that served as administrative centres, spaces of respite, entertainment, shelter and privacy, outside of palatial walls. Sign up for our Online Course to learn more about the various forms and functions associated with textiles.

Pleasures of the Hunt, c. 1800, North India, Punjab Hills, Kangra. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


BLOG

Stories and perspectives from our researchers and editors

BLOG

The MAP Academy's
Encyclopedia of Art

Articles, blogs and glossaries covering the breadth of South Asian Art Histories

Cited, reliable and jargon-free

Scholars from our Academic Review Panel review our content for quality, thoroughness and sensitivity to ensure that it is ready to publish.

Challenging biases and historic canons

Through our editorial process, we aim to produce reliable content that is accessible and inclusive in our approach as well as in the range of the content we cover.

Global and regional perspectives

We strive to include often neglected works of craft, design and indigenous art, representing marginalised regions and communities.


ONLINE COURSES

Self paced learning on a range of subjects

ONLINE COURSES

Textiles from the Indian Subcontinent

Modern & Contemporary Indian Art

Narrative Paintings across South Asia

History of Photography in India

Visual Literacy: How to Read Images

Approaching Craft: Making and Thinking

Sculpture, Archeology & Architecture

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