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AN ILLUSTRATION TO THE HAMIR HATH: HAMIR CONSULTS WITH HIS ADVISOR WHILE HIS ARCHERS HOLD THE FORT
AN ILLUSTRATION TO THE HAMIR HATH: HAMIR CONSULTS WITH HIS ADVISOR WHILE HIS ARCHERS HOLD THE FORT
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AN ILLUSTRATION TO THE HAMIR HATH: HAMIR CONSULTS WITH HIS ADVISOR WHILE HIS ARCHERS HOLD THE FORT

INDIA, PAHARI HILLS, MANDI, ATTRIBUTED TO SAJNU, CIRCA 1810

Details
AN ILLUSTRATION TO THE HAMIR HATH: HAMIR CONSULTS WITH HIS ADVISOR WHILE HIS ARCHERS HOLD THE FORT
INDIA, PAHARI HILLS, MANDI, ATTRIBUTED TO SAJNU, CIRCA 1810
Folio 11 5/8 x 8 in. (29.5 x 20.3 cm.)
Image 8 7/8 x 5 7/8 in. (21.9 x 14.3 cm.)
Provenance
Royal Mandi Collection.
Private collection, Germany.
Sotheby’s New York, 1 April 2005, lot 115.
Sotheby’s New York, 19 September 2008, lot 212.
Literature
H. Shastri. "The Hamir-Hath" or the Obstinacy of Hamir, the Chauhan Prince of Ranthambhor," in The Journal of Indian Art and Industry, London, October 1915, plate 8, fig. 15.

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Lot Essay

The completion of the twenty-one-page Hamir Hath series from which the present illustration derives is widely recognized as a landmark moment in Mandi painting, as the master artistry of Sajnu and the direction of Raja Isvari Sen (1788-1826) shifted the school from the bold, primitive style of the eighteenth century to the refined and complex styles most associated with the nearby courts of Kangra and Guler.
The series is said to have been inscribed, identifying the works as presented to Raja Isvari Sen (1788-1826) of Mandi by the painter Sajnu, on the sixteenth day of Magha (Janurary-February) samvat 1867 (1810), yet there are no known whereabouts or copies of the inscription, which has only been conveyed by H. Shastri in his 1915 article on the subject in the Journal of Indian Art and Industry. Evidence, however, strongly supports the purported inscription’s claims. The refined and complex painting style of the series could have only produced by an artist such as Sajnu, with roots in the more established schools of Guler or Kangra. The series also abounds with stylistic components closely associated with Sajnu himself: carpets ornamented with rich arabesque floral sprays, a meandering architectural composition, and up-tilted and diamond shaped roofs and turrets. Most significantly, several inscribed portraits of Raja Isvari Sen, dated to 1808 and attributed to Sajnu in similar fashion, firmly establish his relationship with the Mandi ruler by 1810, see A.G. Archer, Indian Painting from the Punjab Hills, Delhi, 1973, p. 360, cat. 46 for an example from the Bharat Kala Bhavan collection.
The Rajasthani ballad, Hamir Hath (‘Obstinacy of Hamir’), composed by the fourteenth-century bard Sarangdhar, relates the story of Raja Hamir Dev, the heroic but arrogant Chauhan ruler of Ranthambore, who battled with Alauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi. Although it was a widely-known tale for centuries, there are no known illustrated series of the subject before the nineteenth century. By no act of coincidence, five series on the tale were produced around the year 1810 alone, all at the courts of Guler and Mandi. Notably, the tale of Hamir is strikingly similar to that of Sansar Chand (r. 1775-1823), the despotic ruler of Kangra and former patron of Sajnu. It involves the siege of an obdurate ruler in a vast fortress surrounded by dizzy precipices, quite like the Kangra fort, with a disastrous end. Isvari Sen himself was held captive by Sansar Chand, and as a likely intentional transgression, he commissioned Sansar Chand’s former prized artist to produce the series as an allegory to the Kangra ruler’s demise. Isvari Sen’s likeness is even said to be incorporated into the series as the dashing Mongol soldier Mahima, who is depicted here consulting with courtiers within the walls of Ranthambore Fort. Hamir is shown twice, taking council from his minister Jaja and in discussion with his daughter Deval, who begs that he let her be given to the Sultan, in order to save their ancestral home. Alauddin, in his tented encampment, is surrounded by his men and soldiers, a group of whom don European-style brimmed hats.

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