Art and Culture: Painting and Perspective

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Art and Culture: Painting and Perspective
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The present volume of the Annual Series of Art and Culture carrying the sub-title ‘Painting and Perspective’ relates to the following themes: (a) Cultural setup and Values; (b) Sculpture and Painting and (c) Science and Technology. The articles of the volume are not restricted to any particular period or geographical area. Moreover, the purpose is to encourage scholars to think and write in terms of social mores and values as far as possible.

The names of the contributors along with their contributions are given below:
A. Jan Qaisar and Som Prakash Verma, ‘The Miftahul Fuzala: A Study of an Illustrations; Som Prakash Verma, ‘Symbols and Motifs in the Mughal School of Art’; Som Prakash Verma, ‘Similar Themes, Different treatment; The Mughal Experience’; A. Jan Qaisar, ‘Similar themes, different treatment; The European experience’; Sreeramula Rajeswara Sarma, ‘Scientific Instruments: Evidence from Mughal Paintings’; Som Prakash Verma, ‘Ordinary Life in Mughal India’; A survey of Mughal painting’; Asloob Ahmad Ansari, ‘William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’; Neelima Vashishtha, ‘Sculptural depiction of the Ramayana themes in the temple of Dadhimatimata in Rajasthan’; A Jan Qaisar, ‘Packaging Technology and Stowing Technique during the Seventeenth Century’; Hassan Imam, ‘Educational and Political Perceptions of Muslim Women during Trivedi, ‘Female performing Artistes in North India: A Survey.

Ahsan Jan Qaisar (b. 1933) is a product of Aligarh Muslim University. He resigned from his alma mater in October 1994 as a Professor of Social and Cultural History. He is the author of two books published by the Oxford University Press, New Delhi: The Indian Response to European Technology and Culture, A.D. 1498-1707 (1982) and Building Construction in Mughal India: The Evidence from Paintings (1988). He edited Art and Culture (Felicitation Volume in Honour of Professor S. Nurul Hasan) in 1993 and Art and Culture: Endeavours in Interpretation in 1996, both jointly with Professor Som Prakash Verma. He worked as a Visiting Fellow for one year at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (India) during 1974 – 1975. He went to the U.K. on a visiting fellowship sponsored by the Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi (1977 – 78). Later he worked at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) during 1986-87 as a Fulbright fellow. He was the president of the medieval India section of the Indian History Congress on the occasion of its Golden Jubilee Year, held at Goa in 1987. He has been a member of the advisory board (Medieval India), Indian National Commission for History of Science (INSA), New Delhi. He also served as the Chairman of the above Advisory Board (1996 – 98). Qaisar has attended a number of International Seminars and Conferences on the History of Science and Technology. He has published path-breaking articles in many journals, Indian and foreign.

Professor Som Prakash Verma (b.1942), an art historian, at present at the Centre of Advanced Study, Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University, has three books and numerous articles to his credit. His Art and Material Culture in the Paintings of Akbar’s Court published in 1978 by Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, may rightly be said to be the first authentic treatment of art as a source of history by an Indian scholar. His second work entitled Mughal Painters and Their Work – A Biographical Survey and Comprehensive Catalogue was published in 1994 by Oxford University Press, New Delhi. This is the first comprehensive book of reference as well as a critical reappraisal of the works of more than two hundred Mughal painters. His third book Mughal Pinter of Flora and Fauna, Ustad Mansur was published in 1999 by Abhivan Publications, New Delhi. He edited the volume Flora and Fauna in Mughal Art, Marg Publications, Mumbai, 1999.

Professor Verma is a practicing artist as well. He is the recipient of two prestigious awards by the Indian Academy of Fine Arts, Amritsar (1981) and the Academy of Fine Arts, Calcutta (1982).

In 1986-7, he worked at the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. as a Fulbright Fellow.



Here is yet another volume of our Art and Culture; actually the third one in our proposed series.

This volume carries the sub–title ‘Painting and Perspective’. Art, whether paintings or sculpture, is not value–free. We may go to the extent of saying that no human endeavor in any sphere of life can escape the value syndrome. The moment an individual, a group, or a community decides to create or do something, values, aspirations, and objectives start playing their role nay, their very decision is determined by an assortment of motivations and ideals. Utilitarian requirements and pragmatic considerations, too, cannot cold-shoulder the prevailing or fresh mores and values of a cultural environment.

It is not rational to look upon paintings as a purely aesthetic exercise since aesthetics itself is a complex product of refined thought and reflection rooted in the psyche of social groups during the course of their various material activities.

Color is the keystone of a painting, and do we need to remind ourselves that color is obtained from material objects? But colour combination in a painting for contrast or other purposes, is the result of the artist’s individual perceptions and insight. Indeed, a study of painting would be bereft of any meaning if they were not situated in their contemporary cultural construct.

Keeping in view the above observations, the majority of the articles in the present volume in some way elaborate our understanding of what art constitutes. One can glean from paintings facets of science and technology, the daily life of the people, children’s games, symbols and signs of cultural significance, attitude towards nudity, etc. Sculpture claims only one contribution, depicting some episodes of the Ramayana.

Of special mention is a piece of literary criticism concerning William Blake, the unique English poet, who used to illustrate his mystic verses in an exclusive manner. The reader will find that only three articles in the volume are without pictures: two belong to the category of women’s studies, and one is on an aspect of marine transport technology. We have avoided diacritical marks with some exceptions.

We take this opportunity to thank the contributors who warmly responded, when requested, to participate in our earnest undertaking.

Once again, we are sincerely grateful to our experienced and distinguished publisher Mr. Shakti Mali (Abhivan Publications, New Delhi) for bringing out this volume against heavy odds.




Foreword 7
List of Plates 9
Contributors 16
1. The Miftah – ul Fuzala: A Study of an Illustrated Persain Lexion 17
A. Jan Qaisar and Som Prakash Verma
2. An Introduction to the Anwar – I Suhaili and its Illustrations 33
A. Jan Qaisar
3. Symbols and Motifs in the Mughal School of Art 45
Som Prakash Verma
4. Similar Themes, Different Treatment: The Mughal Experience 61
Som Prakash Verma
5. Similar Themes, Different Treatment: The European Experience 71
A. Jan Qaisar
6. Scientific Instruments: Evidence from Mughal Paintings 81
Sreeramalu Rajeswara Sarma
7. Ordinary Life in Mughal India: A Survey of Mughal Painting 97
Som Prakash Verma
8. William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell 109
Asloob Ahmad Ansari
9. Sculpture Depiction of the Ramayana Themes in the Temple of Dadhimatimata in Rajasthan 119
Neelima Vashishtha
10. Packaging Technology and Stowing Technique during the Seventeenth Century 127
A. Jan Qaisar
11. Educational and Political Perceptions of Muslim Women during the first half of the Twentieth Century 139
Hassan Imam
12. Female Performing Artistes in North India: A Survey 153
Madhu Trivedi

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