Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ram Rai Darbar

Information about the Darbar and its history can easily be obtained online. However, in keeping with the Dehradun Urban Art Project, I will talk about the murals here, will do?

Firstly then, go there with plenty of time on your hands. To do the paintings justice, we need to give them plenty of unhurried time. Also, most of the paintings are way above eye level, so it will also help to have enough time to rest ones neck every now and then. The Darbar is in the form of an exterior wall with an imposing gate that encloses a large courtyard with a number of buildings inside. The gate, fa├žade and the building that provides accommodation for all visitors are covered in a wealth of exquisite murals. The paintings cover a number of decades, styles, and subjects. At first glance, my paranoid mind was disturbed by the many Hindu gods in a Sikh place of worship. However, I then noticed that the paintings cover Sikh and Hindu parables, as well as a great many secular scenes. Donors, prominent citizens, scenes from daily life, and stylized mughal style floral decorations all co-exist happily here.

Here are some snaps, of the paintings that most struck my fancy- but I do need to go there again and drink it all in.

This photo gives one an impression of what the paintings look like. Please notice the happy juxtaposition of Sikh gurus, scenes from the Ramayana, a Rajput (?) woman poet, the mutton-chop whiskered person negotiating/chatting with a person who from his turban looks like a king from Peninsular India, and most intriguing of them all, the figures who look like twenties BYTs in their flapper dresses, multi-strand pearl necklaces and cloche hats..

Another general shot, with more secular scenes than the earlier one had. Here one sees, I think, Mughal courtiers, some people from Maharashtra and is the man in the centre left hand panel a Parsi? Apologies for the tilt, by the way. I should load me a program with a tilt-corrector, but it is a lot less trouble to just incline my head to the left. Try it, it works!

I like this panel a lot. The wealth of detail is attractive, the trompe l'eoil effect with the two men (krishna and mysterious handsome guy) peering coyly out is even more so. The Darbar is reputed to have the only mural showing Noor Jehan and I wonder if the top centre panel is the one showing her. The head gear looks like it- any guesses?

On the right is just a close up of the floral detail..

And this surprised me quite a lot. The Dwarapaals at the front gate are British soldiers! Never have I seen that before. I am used to demons, well-endowed women, and deities with comfortably androgynous features. A britisher in full uniform with a sola topee is new to me. His uniform has three red chevrons. Can anyone tell me what rank that signifies? And what is meant by the NA on his topee? His is standing to the right of the door. The one on the left has NN on his cap.

The last picture. A most beautiful image of a woman playing the Veena. This is most Raja Ravi Verma-ish isn't it? I am not talking of the style, I do not know of that. I am talking of the woman. Her beauty, self-possession, and the feeling that she is not playing for anyone, but just playing music seems very typical of Verma's women..


SloganMurugan said...

wow. beautiful!

Anonymous said...

3 chevrons designate a sergeant. What's NA? Nepal Army?

chicu said...

thanks for the info re the 3 chevrons..Nepal army? well, not sure. the other image reads NN