A miniature depicting Saraswati, Deccan-Bijapur school

This is in continuation of my motivation gained during the Basant Panchami, or Saraswati puja.

While going through my old notes from my Jaipur days, I discovered a beautiful Deccan-Bijapur miniature painting depicting Saraswati. The old notes were from a plate description by Dr Chandramani Singh, Art Historian and my old friend Sh. Madhvendra Narayan. I summarised it below –

Source: MSMS II Museum, Jaipur, Rajasthan

This four-armed Saraswati-the goddess of learning is playing Vina. It is a work of the late 16th cent.,  executed by one of the master painters of the court of Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1579-1627) at Bijapur. The goddess holds Vina with her two hands; a lotus flower in the third and a book in the fourth hand. She is sitting on a throne attended by two fairies who hold a backdrop or a fan with beautiful tassels. Elongated wings of fairies, going upward make an arch-shaped form in the background. Fairies are wearing a full sleeve long dress, pyjama and a girdle at the waist. A lady devotee dressed in Deccani manner stands on the right side of the deity. Goddesses mount peacock is also present in the foreground; swan other bird associated with Saraswati is also depicted in pair on the lower part of the painting. At the top of the painting, there is a small portrait of the Sultan himself, on his favourite elephant Atash Khan, with an attendant standing on the ground. The painting has two inscriptions in Persian, Ganapati Mata Saraswati, the name of the painter Husain Ibrahim Adil Shahi. 

Ibrahim Adil Shah II was a great devotee of Saraswati, the goddess of speech. His book Kitab-i-Nauras begins with an invocation to the goddess. The painting could be the unwan – opening page of the book or an independent work commissioned by the Sultan. Mark Zebrowski, the author of Deccani painting said that Ibrahim Adil Shah II was the greatest patron of the arts the Deccan produced. 

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