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Ladies Hunting Tigers

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Ladies Hunting Tigers
Mid-18th Century

Place of Origin: Kotah, Rajasthan
Materials: Paper
Dimensions: L: 30 W: 25.3 cm
Acc. No. 47.110/1919

This Kotah miniature, representing the phase when the Kotah style was on its ever greatest heights, portrays hunting, one of the most popularly painted themes in medieval paintings. Besides an essential part of the life of feudatory treated as the most loved sport by princes hunting was the most cherished means of entertaining guests. Till recent days Kotah forests were world-wide known for their tigers and for long tiger-hunting was considered as the best treat for a state guest, a Rajput prince from other state, a Mughal prince, or a British officer, reaching Kotah.

The Kotah artists have rendered a number of hunting paintings, perhaps the best ones on the subject in any style of painting. However, whatever their number, a painting representing a delicate Rajput princess with a crew of just two attendants, as delicate as their mistress, one loading another match-lock, and other, standing behind with a sword and shield, shooting a tiger couple with a heavy gun with extra long barrel, is rare. The artist has dramatized his theme through contrast: delicately built princess and her attendants with child-like curious faces, and a tough exercise such as hunting a tiger-couple with a crude heavy gun.

Unlike hunting in a wide open forest with a team of drummers and hooters dragging the kill to hunters this miniature represents the princess hunter stationed on the terrace of her shikaragah - hunting tower, close to a reservoir that tigers were known to visit for drinking water, awaiting her kill. As soon as she detects the movement in the grass around the reservoir and its waters, she knows there is a tiger and targets her gun on it, though to their utter surprise there are two tigers however, unperturbed she takes one of them in the range of her gun, while for shooting other one of her attendants readies another. Known for its valour, while one of the tigers is busy in drinking water the other is dauntlessly looking straight into the eyes of the killer. Pleasing to eye the artist has painted tigers half submerged into water and their figures shaded with grass grown around. Exceptionally simple the composition is quite effective.

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