Why are our brave Indian soldiers flawless
One hundred Indian gouaches around 1800
A special treasure in the Lindenau Museum's historical art library is an album from around 1800 with a hundred original Indian gouache paintings entitled "Oriental Costumes Drawn after Nature". The paintings come from Tanjore, a center of South Indian art. They can be assigned to the so-called Company School Paintings - pictures that were painted by Indian artists for the European market. The two-volume album must be regarded as one of the most beautiful and extensive collections of images from Tanjore around 1800. Compared to albums from the major museums in England or Copenhagen, the Altenburg papers prove to be particularly high-quality material. The 100 gouaches are divided into two volumes that have been securely bound in Europe (probably in England). The individual sheets are glued to pale lilac passe-partouts and surrounded by a gold border. The name of the depicted object is written on the passe-partouts in fair English, always by the same hand. The pictures were painted on primed paper, which was then mounted on thin cardboard. The size of the individual images is slightly different and fluctuates slightly by 35 cm × 24.5 cm. The majority appears in portrait format, but if the subject demands it, landscape format is also offered. The pictures are executed in opaque watercolors, called gouache, that is, with water-soluble pigments that are mixed with glue or chalk and thus achieve their characteristic opaque appearance. This is a technique common in India. The individual titles of the pictures were probably written in Europe after mounting on the passepartou. Since the English titles often have spelling mistakes and the signatures are not always technically correct, one can speculate about who wrote them and where.
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has similar gouaches made by Company School painters from Thanjavur (Tanjore).
Link: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/search/?offset=0&limit=15&narrow=0&q=company+paintings&quality=0&objectnamesearch=&placesearch=Thanjavur&after=&after-adbc=AD&before=&before-adbc=nsAD&namesearch=&materialsearch .==& = & locationsearch =
You can already see from the woman's clothing that this is a higher caste of craftsmen. The woman wears a vest under the translucent breast cloth so that her breasts are covered. In the case of images of lower castes, women are usually dressed in such a way that one breast remains visible. This alone documents the position of a caste. Belonging to a respected caste is also repeated by the attribute, a pair of precious sandals that the man holds in his hands. The golden sandals show that this is not a "shoemaker", but a respected slipper manufacturer. It could be that we are dealing with the royal slipper maker from Tanjore. (Werner Kraus)
The Brahmin wears a turban, called a puckery, made of colored fabric with a zigzag pattern and a golden band. In addition to a white hip scarf, dhoti, with a red border, he alone wears an orange scarf (angavastra) with an exquisitely embroidered palla (end of the scarf) over an almost transparent shirt. He wears gold sandals on his feet and the earrings consist of the usual large, gold rings. Its importance is emphasized by a weighty gold chain. The three horizontal and parallel lines on his forehead are a Shiva-tilaka, a sign that he professes the Shivaite variant of Hinduism. As an attribute he wears a manuscript in Devanagri script in his right hand and a betel priem in his left hand. His wife wears a splendid woven silk saree from the West Indies. These fabrics were among the most precious in the country, and the painter thus underlined the high position of the Maratha Brahmin. The Marathas come from central India and rose to become one of the most important military powers after their unification under Prince Shivaji in the 17th century. At times their area of influence extended over large parts of central, south and northeast India. They became the fiercest opponents of the late Mughal Empire, and they also faced the English as a strong political and military power. Maratha Brahmins followed the military expansion of Maratha power and were often referred to as the "brains" of the Maratha Confederation. They were heavily involved in the political administration of conquered territories. The kingdom of Tanjore, from which these images are taken, was ruled by a Maratha dynasty from 1674-1855. (Werner Kraus)
A saddler belonged to the caste of leather workers, moochee, moochi, mocee, from which painters also emerged, at least in southern India. In northern India, the moci were part of the untouchables, as they skinned dead animals and tanned furs. In South India, on the other hand, the artistic character of these people has been emphasized, and they are often mentioned first as painters and only afterwards as leather workers. Charles Gold, who published the famous book "Oriental Drawings" in 1806, was the first to describe the Moochees as "artists of India". The saddler is elegantly dressed in a white shirt and hip scarf. He wears a saddle and in his left hand he holds a specially made bridle. He is schematically equipped with the usual jewelry. The vertical stripes on his forehead show that he is a follower of the Vishnu version of Hinduism. As is so often the case in the pictures in this series, his wife is depicted not as an individual but as a type. Similar profile representations of the female figures are repeated over and over again. As an attribute, she holds two stirrups in her hand. (Werner Kraus)
The word laskar was borrowed from the Persian language, where lashkar means "an army". When the Portuguese reached the Indian Ocean, they adopted this word as lasquarin, and from Portuguese the lascar migrated into both the English and Dutch colonial languages. In India in the late 18th century, Laskar was an auxiliary soldier in the artillery. In the picture we see a Laskar carrying a powder keg and a fuse. His accompanying wife shows through her simple clothes and her bare chest the lower position of the profession of lascar. (Werner Kraus)
The bearded man wears a plaid, wrapped hip scarf, lungi, and over it a red coat. He has thrown a black scarf (a blanket?) Over his shoulders, while a yellow scarf is tied across his body. He wears a double-barreled necklace made of large blue stones and another longer one, probably made of seeds. His head is covered by a strange, miter-shaped cap, and the man wears sandals on his feet. In his right hand he holds a water pipe, in his left hand a bird farmer and bird. Obviously, the bird is part of his method of dream interpretation. His wife, who is shown very schematically, is identified as a Muslim woman by her long black overdress and trousers as well as by the green scarf. As an attribute, she wears a fan in her left hand and a Muslim rosary, as is often used by the Sufis, in her right. Her feet are in red slippers. Neither he nor her is assigned a clear Islamic symbol. (Werner Kraus)
A butcher holds a piece of poultry in his right hand; in his left hand he has his most important attribute, the knife. He wears short red trousers and a strangely looped loincloth. Except for a turban that looks like a Maratha turban, he wears no additional clothing. Butchers are rarely featured in the Company School albums. If anything, they deal with the preparation of sheep meat. The representation of a poultry butcher chosen here is not known to me from other albums. The mark on the forehead identifies the butcher as a follower of Shiva. His wife is too finely dressed for the wife of a butcher who was marginalized because of his trade. But as we have often indicated, it was not the aim of the Tanjore painters to depict real conditions. Since many Hindus of the higher castes were vegetarian, the butcher's caste was naturally a lower one. (Werner Kraus)
Toddi is a sweet juice drawn from different palms, which is fermented and converted into an alcoholic drink. This type of alcohol production is widespread all over the earth's tropical belt. The Toddi man only wears a loincloth and a strange, red and black hat, which could also be seen by other people from different classes. On the gray-painted forehead we see three horizontal lines and a yellow point. The strokes are repeated on the front of the neck, on the upper arms, on the chest and on the elbows. They are applied with ashes and indicate his affiliation to the Shiva cult. The only jewelry we see is a large gold earring with a blue pearl (which is repeated in the ear) and silver bracelets on the wrists. In his right hand the Toddi man holds the knife with which he cuts the pistil of the palm blossoms. In his left hand he carries the narrow ladder with which he reaches the top of the palm tree. As further devices we see a second and third special knife in his quiver and an earthen vessel that is supposed to catch the dripping juice of the palm tree. As an attribute, so to speak, a dry palm leaf is placed over his left shoulder. The woman wears the standard sari of the lower chest, indigo blue with brown stripes. The fabric is edged in red on the edge. Her jewelry consists of earrings and nose rings and some gold necklaces. As an attribute, she carries an empty Toddi container. As always, the characters are presented in a highly idealized way. This is especially true for the jewelry, which in this form was probably not owned by simple toddi tappers. But it wasn't about depicting reality, but rather to revive the dream of »India« for the European viewer again and again. (Werner Kraus)
The washer, dhobi, was an important occupation in Indian public life. No Indian higher caste washed their own clothes. The dhobi was also an important employee in European homes. Actually, dhobi was used to describe the washer caste in Bengal and Orissa. In Anglo-Indian usage, however, the term referred to the washer in general. The great heat in South India meant that the English had to change two or three times a day. So the washer was always busy, and the one pictured here shows how heavy the burden of dirty laundry can be. He carries a large bundle over his shoulder, his wife a smaller one on his head and a second over his left shoulder. She also carries the stick that was used to beat the laundry on the river. The man is dressed in white shorts and over it wears a strange, translucent sarong with a red border. He has a cleverly tied red cloth on his head, his earrings are very discreet, but the washer's face is pronounced and painted almost like a portrait. The hair and beard in particular are finely worked out. (Werner Kraus)
The water reservoir or tank is an integral part of Indian agriculture and religion. Every ruler tried to gain prestige by mending or equipping a tank. Water was stored in the tank for the dry season, which was then available for religious ceremonies and for irrigation in agriculture. The tank digger, also called odde, is shown here with its tool, the hoe, and with its prey, the rat. The rats dig passages in the embankments of the reservoirs, creating leaks. The tank digger must therefore constantly check the condition of the bank reinforcement. His wife in the undemanding sari holds the hoe and a rope (for catching the rats?) As attributes in her hand. A hundred years later, the tank digger's profession evolved into that of railroad worker, whose job it was to inspect the railway line. The impression of the lonely worker and woman that the paper gives is wrong. Tank diggers worked in groups of 40 or 50, sometimes more than 100 people. (Werner Kraus)
The term chetti or chettiar has a number of meanings in India. On the one hand, it denotes a South Indian caste and is widely used as an additional name. In addition, Chettiar has long been understood as a trader of the Sūdra caste. In addition to trading, these Chettiars took care of money and exchanged money. The man, who is dressed very simply, carries some kind of cloth bag or sack in his left hand. Whether this attribute makes him a money changer does not seem imperative to me. In a collection in the Victoria & Albert Museum, a similar depiction identifies the man as a banker from the city of Poovalur, which is 34 km north of Tanjore. The signature on our sheet mistakenly names this city Pooalore. However, we have often noticed that the texts are not always correct, which suggests that they were edited in England. The woman, who wears one of the very beautiful Malabar tie and dye saris, holds two betel prongs, pan, in her hand as an attribute. (Werner Kraus)
The Hindu barber with his utensils is obviously a barber who does not conduct his business in public and for the public, but who is employed by a family, as was the custom in any large colonial house. The man wears the Vishnu symbol on his forehead, the woman is dressed in a precious, indigo-blue tie and dye saree with red borders. The women, which are usually drawn schematically, show the full splendor of South Indian textiles, which were among the luxury goods of past centuries. Every saree is a cultural statement. (Werner Kraus)
The painter seated the Brahmin on a chair in a European way, a position that neither the Brahmin nor the painter seems to be familiar with. The chair has no contact with the floor, the brahmin doesn't really know where to put his arms, and his servant stands in front of him with crossed arms and looks questioningly at the unfamiliar spectacle. The orange clothes of the two are also unusual. The religion of Karnataka has been shaped over the centuries by Hindu reforms, but also by influences from the Jainas. Perhaps the unusual textile furnishings of the two gentlemen indicate such an influence from Jainism? However, the painting on the forehead of the Brahmin shows him to be a follower of Shiva. Karnataka was then called the area around Mysore. The English shortened the name to Carnatik or, as in the signature of this picture, Canady. (Werner Kraus)
The palanquin, the carried litter, was India's main means of transport. Anyone who was self-conscious could not possibly walk, but had to be carried. The private palanquin was available for this, for which at least six, but usually twelve porters were needed (six each for carrying and six for resting time). The palanquin was used for visits to one's own area as well as for trips across the country. These took place at an astonishing speed, as the porters were constantly taking turns. In addition to the porters, a palanquin boy was needed who was part of the party as a "bodyguard", as a servant or messenger. The »Gentoo«, ie Hindu-Palanquin-Boy, shown here has a lance as an attribute, which must be seen more as a ceremonial device than a weapon. The box mark on the forehead, the crescent moon, is repeated as a pendant on the chain. His long white coat is held together by a cloth. As is customary in these pictures, the woman wears rich jewelry, and her sari is of the same flawless purity as her husband's coat. The term palanquin was first used by the Portuguese and comes from the Pali word pallangko or the Sanskrit term palyankah. Both mean bed or couch. Sometimes the term is also associated with the Javanese word pelangki (to carry), but this is unlikely. (Werner Kraus)
Peons, messengers who were also news collectors, appear again and again and often several times in the Company School albums. This picture shows a messenger from the Malabar Coast, the west coast of South India. He is equipped with a white shirt and a white hip scarf. Over it he wears a short blue coat, which, as you can see on the collar and sleeves, has a white lining. A red sash with a gold brooch runs across his chest. The brooch is decorated with characters that cannot be deciphered. The name of the recipient of the letter, which is written on it, cannot be deciphered either. Both the messenger and his wife are shown in three-quarter profile, with their posture, sari and jewelry following a pattern that we know from many other sheets. (Werner Kraus)
The Chaitanya Satani were a group of temple servants who called themselves brahmins but were not recognized as such by the other castes. They are sometimes considered to be followers of the Bengali Hindu reformer Chaitanya, but there is no real evidence for this. The Satani used to shave their heads, so they did not wear the usual curls of the Brahmins, nor did they wear their sacred cord around their necks. Nevertheless, they tied their loincloths like an unmarried Brahmin, which can be seen in our picture. The Chaitanya Satani are followers of Vishnu, which the depicted person reveals through extensive body painting. Both he and his wife carry a fan and a vessel. The man's fan is painted with a large tengalay namam, the symbol of the Tengalay Vishnu sect from Srirangam. The basket in his hand is woven from the leaves of the Palmyra palm. It was used to store flowers for the temple, the making of which was part of the Satani's occupation. (Werner Kraus)
The fact that the Brahmins, as the highest caste of the Indian religious and social system, occupy a position above all others, has probably never corresponded to social reality. There have always been differences among the Brahmins. According to the ideal of the holy scriptures, the Brahmins had to worry only about the study of the books and the exact execution of the rituals. Nevertheless, there were Brahmins in the most varied of professions - as doctors, traders, farmers, shepherds, etc. In addition, each ethnic group had its own Brahmins, and some castes managed to be counted among the Brahmins again after their affiliation had been forgotten. The system of the Brahmins was therefore a completely confusing and competitive one. The Brahmin from Karnataka (the area around Mysore) pictured here appears to us not as a wise scholar and expert on the scriptures, but as a small religious specialist who wants to capitalize on his class. The meaning of the leaf on his chest has not yet been clarified. (Werner Kraus)
Barbers must come from a ritually pure caste because they come into intimate contact with their clientele. As a rule, Indians did not shave themselves, but had them shaved. This was done with a fairly simple scraper knife and no soap, just water, which didn't exactly make the process a pleasure. Part of the man's hair is shaved off and he watches the shave with a hand mirror. Barbers offered their services in the market or in certain parts of the city. Sometimes they also ran through the streets with their utensils and asked to be called into the houses. Wearing or not wearing a beard was not an individual decision, it was related to a man's caste and status. (Werner Kraus)
The south west coast of India is called the Malabar or Pepper Coast, while the south east coast is called the Coromandel Coast. While the west coast is heavily rained during the southwest monsoon season, the eastern Coromandel coast lies in the rain shadow of the Western Ghats, the western mountains, and is therefore much drier. The large rivers alone, which have their source in the Western Ghats and flow eastward, alleviate the situation considerably. The Kaveri, the main river in Tanjore, is one of these important waterways. At the beginning of the 19th century, “Malabar” meant “Tamil” and a Malabar beggar was therefore one of the Tamils who dominated southern India. Our picture shows a poor man with open wounds on his right leg who had to resort to begging because of his handicap. His family is with him: his wife with the emaciated breasts and the well-fed child who sits in a pot of water and has a lot of fun doing it. The dignity of the people is respected by the Indian artist, although the people do not wear caste marks and probably belong to the group of the untouchables. (Werner Kraus)
The weaver depicted in the white hip scarf and white top is wearing some unspectacular results of the South Indian art of weaving over his arm. The fabrics from the Malabar and especially from the Coromandel coast of southern India have been known and famous for centuries. The European trading powers, who bought spices in Southeast Asia from the 16th century onwards, quickly realized that without Indian textiles they could not carry out any economic transactions in the Malay Archipelago. That is why the Portuguese, Dutch, Danes and English set up small stockpiling sites in South India, where they purchased Indian fabrics for onward transport to Southeast Asia and China. Textiles from South India were also transported to Arabia and even as far as West Africa. The weaver depicted here can be understood as a symbol of the end of the process described above: around 1800 the importance of spices for European cuisine had become less, and Indian textiles were only in limited demand for shops on the islands of the East. In addition, the Indian textile industry, under the competitive pressure of cheap goods from Manchester, should soon fall behind. The satisfied expression on the weaver's face no longer had anything to do with his economic reality. (Werner Kraus)
The word bairāgi comes from the Sanskrit term vairāgya (freedom from passions). It denotes a sect of Hindu ascetics who are part of the Vishnu tradition and particularly refer to the two heroic incarnations of Vishnu, namely Rama and Krishna. The Bairāgis are divided into four groups: 1. The Ramamujis, who are also called Sri Vaishnavas. They are in the tradition of the Hindu religious philosopher Ramanand. 2. The Nimanandis, who place themselves in the tradition of the philosopher Nimanand. 3. The Vishnuswamy or Vallabacharya, who are special followers of Rama and Krishna and consider the Ramayana to be the most sacred of all books. 4. The Madhavacharya, who were particularly widespread in southern India. The Bairāgis go naked, except for a tied apron that covers their genitals, and never have their hair cut. Their attributes include a water pipe with which they smoke ganja (marijuana) and a tiger or deer skin on which they meditate. Their traditional pilgrimage in South India, on which many Bairāgis lived, led them from one Rama shrine to another, from Ramesvaram via Srirangam to Tirupati and back. All Bairāgi showed themselves to be beggars, many, especially those from the Sūdra castes, but at the same time were also traders and traveled, well armed, in small groups through the country. (Werner Kraus)
The picture shows the threshing of the rice, the separation of the grain from the husks and its temporary storage. While a farmer is chopping the grain from the ears in the foreground, the woman is separating the rice from the chaff in the upper left. A clerk from the government sits on the harvest piled up towards the hill and notes the amount of rice, from which the ruler's share is then calculated. The tax assessor is accompanied by an armed soldier who is supposed to secure his work. So here we see two images in one: 1. the bringing in of the harvest and 2. the state appropriation of part of the farmers' production. Both events are represented as idylls, and the soldier who mischievously peeks out from behind the rice hill does not seem to want to be taken seriously either. But of course these are the two most important scenes of the agricultural year. The effort of threshing on the farmer is contrasted with the completely effortless tax estimate - the rigor of bringing in the harvest the ease of losing part of it. (Werner Kraus)
The man is wearing a short, dark blue, patterned jacket over his white hip scarf, which is held together with a white scarf. A red, turban-like headgear creates a strong color contrast. In his right hand he is holding a sealed letter, obviously of European origin. His wife is dressed in a simple auburn sari. She is holding a large mug under her left arm. The attribute she holds in her right hand has not yet been interpreted. Hircarrah is the name of a caste used by local princes and the English (also in Tanjore) as messengers (and spies). In Anglo-Indian parlance, it was understood to be a messenger. (Werner Kraus)
The picture shows a Dasari, a servant of Vishnu. Dasaris lived on alms, but were not beggars, since their asceticism was always understood as a service to society. The reward of her love for God and her personal renunciation of the comforts of this world benefited society as a whole. The man in our picture wears a half-length white coat made of thin material over a loincloth that covers his pubic area. A sack hangs over his left shoulder. The head is covered by a pointed red hat. In his right hand he carries a morchhal, a fan made of peacock feathers. Two of these feathers are also in his hat. Peacock feathers are a symbol of the ruler, here a symbol of Vishnu's rule. A chain of tulsi seeds hangs around his neck. He also wears a chain with a large medallion, which probably shows an image of the goddess Vira Anjaneya. The Dasari is equipped with a mouth lock, a special form of asceticism. It prevents both speaking and eating. The woman carries a fire stand because the Dasari covered themselves with fire on certain occasions without harming them. (Werner Kraus)
In India, shroff was used to describe a banker or money changer. The expression has been recorded as sharoffe since 1610-20 and developed from the Portuguese word xarrafo, which in turn could be derived from the Arabic sayrāfī. The Gujarati term for money changer is śaraf. In the Persian-Indian story collection "A Thousand and One Nights", Scheherzade tells the story of the thief and the Shroff in the 344th night. Here, too, one can infer the status of the man from the clothing of the woman. Her sari is finely woven and decorated. With her right hand, she offers her husband a pan, a betel priem, which is intended to stimulate and soothe at the same time. The Shroff were money changers and moneylenders and were usually quite rich people. This was in contradiction to the relatively lower Sūdra caste to which they belonged. At the time these pictures were being painted in Tanjore, the following currency was in circulation: the gold mohur, which was worth 16 sicca rupees. For a sicca or silver rupee you received 16 annas (one copper coin). A pice was half an annas, and the lowest unit counted were cowrie shells. For 120 kauri you received a pice. The pagoda, which was worth four rupees, was still known in southern India. (Werner Kraus)
The term Conycoply can not be found either in literature or in dictionaries. It seems that this meant a kind of clerk in a harbor warehouse, who in Madras had to pay 5 pagodas per month for his services (which was the wages of a cook). Even when determining the attributes that the man holds in his hand or under his arm, no certainty could be achieved. (Werner Kraus)
According to his signature, the beggar pictured here is part of the basket-maker caste, which belongs to the group of untouchables. Man and woman probably carry a large part of their little belongings with them. The man is playing a wind instrument made from a calabash. The three pictures of beggars that were included in the album always show them as a family with children, a representation that is otherwise not used. The meaning could be that poor people always have children or that the idyllic view of poverty alleviates them through the warm treatment of children. (Werner Kraus)
The cultivation of cotton and the manufacture of cotton textiles have been practiced in southern India for centuries. After the harvest, the cotton had to be cleaned of its cores and impurities and then spun. The picture shows a spinner and his wife (the signature "Weber" is wrong), who both hold a spindle, asari, with cotton thread in their hands. The man wears a simple white dhoti, the woman an equally simple striped sari. Although the poverty of a nutcase is proverbial in India, the painter has furnished the two of them with precious pieces of jewelry. He is describing a social utopia - the existence of a weirdo and his wife in the coming golden age. (Werner Kraus)
According to Europeans, staple foods were cheap in India. But they often complained about the poor quality of the meat and the monotony of the vegetables. So it was important to have good cooks. The cook was called bobachee in Anglo-Indian slang, a corruption of the Indian term bāwarchi. Most of the cooks in European households were Muslim or dom (a group of untouchables) as Hindus would not touch beef. They had a fairly high position in the house. The cook pictured here, who does not have any caste mark, also seems to be a Muslim. Since the Muslim cook often prepared dishes that were forbidden, haram, for himself (ban on pork, etc.), the cooks were famous for being able to cook whole dishes without even trying what was cooked. The painter's fiction is that the cook's wife reveals a breast. No Muslim woman would have appeared like this in public at the time. (Werner Kraus)
Serfoji II, the last independent Raja of Tanjore, whose government was nevertheless under British supervision, also had a small standing army, whose uniform and training were taken over by the Madras Regiment founded in 1750, the oldest Anglo-Indian regiment consisting of Indian soldiers . This extended bodyguard mainly had to perform ceremonial tasks and was led by European officers (including Germans). Here a lower rank is shown in parade uniform. His wife wears a splendid, flower-adorned skirt with the skimpy top. A fine, transparent scarf rounds off their untraditional features. Should the modern occupation of the soldier be supported by the "modern" clothing of women? (Werner Kraus)
The local soldier, Sepoy, wears short white trousers, a red uniform jacket, a dark blue waist band (cummerbund) and crossed straps over his chest, next to him a rifle and a dark blue turban with a red cockade. The clothes, especially the turban, define him as a soldier of the 36th Battalion of the Madras Native Infantry. This regiment was founded in August 1794 and still exists today. The turban and cockade should be reminiscent of the headgear of the Scottish Highland regiment. Here, too, the clothing of the woman seems to support the modern status of the soldier. (Werner Kraus)
The basket makers, called dom, belong to the group of untouchables, as it is also part of their job to look after the dead. Sometimes the dom also worked as an executioner. The lower level of the cathedral also appears in this picture. The man does not wear a caste mark and the whole family is depicted in a rather neglected state. Since the dom formed one of the few Indian groups who could handle both the meat of cattle and that of pigs without staining themselves, they were gladly taken into the house as cooks at the beginning of European rule. This in turn meant that no Hindu or Muslim could eat in a European's house. In the English collections of Company School Painting, a wide variety of names appear on the basket makers' sheets, such as Coroavaur, Cooday Coraver, Madaraven, Camakapelle. The meaning of these terms is unclear. (Werner Kraus)
The sheet shows a wood collector and his wife. As the scanty clothing shows, they belong to a lower caste. The fact that both still wear gold jewelry is probably because the artist wants to portray a social utopia in which there is no state of scarcity. Poor people are therefore hardly to be found in the album, even the poorest are adorned and have a degree of dignity. On closer inspection, we see that the two collectors carry more reeds than wood on their heads. In the valley and delta of the Kaveri River, the tree population was and is sparse. But there is a lot of reed growing there, which is used both as building material and as fuel. (Werner Kraus)
The grass-cutter couple is depicted similarly to the lumberjack couple, with similar clothing and similar, exaggerated jewelry. Grass cutters belonged to the group of untouchables. In northern India the grass cutters were called ghāsyārā. The grass was cut just below the sward as parts of the roots were considered to be particularly nutritious. It was used as fodder for the horses and was found in large quantities on the edges of paths, roads and fields. (Werner Kraus)
In Hindu India, cows are inviolable. She declared a religious rule to be godlike. The ethnologist Marvin Harris believes that there is an economic principle behind the ban on the killing of cows. The most important animal in Indian agriculture was the ox of the frugal but persistent Bos indicus, the Indian zebu. Without their help, the dry, hard soils of northern India would not have been plowed and worked. The cows are the only producers of young bulls.If you want to maximize the output of bulls (ox), you have to treat the cows well so that they give life to as many bulls as possible. From this point of view, the ban on killing cows has a very rational background. The trader pictured sells cow's milk, which was only available in small quantities in India in the early 19th century and which was often provided for ritual purposes. It was the arrival of the Europeans that greatly increased the consumption of milk. In order to serve this market, people began to consume buffalo milk as well, a practice that was previously little known in India. The man balances a moistened earthen jug that keeps the milk cool on his head and secures it with a rope that he holds in both hands. His wife, on the other hand, wears the measure on her head. The opening of the jug is closed by a tuft of herbs. (Werner Kraus)
The signature of the picture reads "A Banty Man and his Wife" and confronts us with a riddle. What is a "Banty Man"? In the English language, a "banty man" is a physically small man who wants to stand out through conspicuous, masculine behavior. The name goes back to the bantam or banty rooster (rooster), the name of a small but noble breed of chicken from Southeast Asia. But why the man depicted here is called a banty is unclear. We know this picture from other collections and know that the sitter is referred to there as a »Maratha«, which corresponds to the matter. We are dealing with a Maratha warrior with his typical weaponry: short sword and lance. His eye-catching turban supports this interpretation because it is a Maratha turban. (Werner Kraus)
Dark blue turban, pink livery, white breeches and dark blue ribbon around the hips - you can hardly imagine a more elegant domestic servant. Next to it stands his conventionally dressed wife in an indigo-colored sari with red woven ribbons and a pattern that may be applied by a form of ikat (tying off before dyeing). A European household in India had a finely graded servants. Several servants were also responsible for the horses. This may be the supervisor of the horse stable. (Werner Kraus)
The torchbearer, called massalchee, musaulchee, mash’alche, accompanied his master or a traveler at night. Since both visits and journeys mainly took place in the cool of the night, the Massalchee was an important man in lighting the paths. When traveling he ran alongside the litter, often for hours. The idealized portrayed person carries an oil torch in his left hand and a can from which oil can be refilled in his right. The white forehead shows that he is a resident of the Malabar Coast. Christoph Adam Carl von Imhoff wrote from Madras in 1769: "The Malabare makes his forehead white with greide." The term massalchee is derived from the Arabic word mash’al (torch). The addition che comes from the Turkish language and in this case turns a torch into a torchbearer. The torches consisted of a metal rod held in a wooden handle and wrapped in rags soaked in oil. These had to be repeatedly moistened with oil from a jug with a long nozzle. A Massalchee was one of the lowly servants and was certainly not wearing the clean and colorful clothing depicted on the miniature. The woman wears a blue sari with rust-red stripes with a red border, as we find it again and again in pictures of the Malabar coast. Stripes were tied on the cloth, which was initially dyed rust-red, which retained their original color after the second indigo dyeing. She wears the pala des saris, the upper end, as headgear and as a base for the heavy basket, in which there is more oil. (Werner Kraus)
Bundeles was the name given to a group of the Rajputs, a warlike people from northwest India (Rajasthan). Among the Rajputs, the Bundeles were among the particularly brave and loyal fighters. They were considered the best soldiers and were named after their home region, Bundelkhand. There they formed the Hindu ruling class. In southern India, where parts of them emigrated in the 17th century after the Mughal ruler Jahangir had conquered their empire, they are known under the name Bondili. Today the Bundelas are proverbial in India as keenly calculating business people. The equation of a maratha with a bundela indicated in the caption is incorrect. (Werner Kraus)
The Colleries were a people who lived in the Madura area of southern India. They were collectively counted as belonging to the Sūdra caste. They were very bellicose and were generally feared as thieves and robbers. The colleries were particularly adept at using their curved stick, called vullaree taddee, and the lance. Both attributes can be seen on the sheet. The Colleries were often recruited as mercenaries for local wars, mostly confirming their reputation as thieves. The sheet also shows a custom of the people in women, namely the artificial lengthening of the earlobes by hanging in heavy earrings. The man in the picture wears the scanty clothes of an "uncivilized" person and identifies himself as a follower of Shiva through his paintwork. (Werner Kraus) A good description of this people by a certain Mr. Turnbull can be found in: Alexander’s East India and Colonial Magazin, Vol. 10, July-December 1835, London, pp. 215-227.
The potters, kumār, derived from the Sanskrit term kumbhakāra, were a respected Sūdra caste despite their proverbial poverty. In addition to the classic clay dishes, they made a large number of products, from utility ceramics to roof tiles and images of gods. They air dried a large part of their goods. Only a few products were kilned. This has to do with the fact that many vessels such as drinking vessels and rice cookers were only used once. But the lack of firewood and charcoal also supported the tradition. The potter in our picture is working on a simple turntable that is moved by a handle in the spokes. Often only the upper part of a vessel was made on the disc, while the lower part was shaped by hand by the potter's wife. Only men who were also responsible for making figures of gods worked on the pane. As a rule, Indian ceramics were not glazed. (Werner Kraus)
The master mason, camatee, who can perhaps also be called a builder, holds a trowel and a yardstick in his hands as attributes of his profession. His white clothes, the scarf crossed in front of his chest, angavasha, his jewelry and his sandals indicate a respected and superior person. In the area of Tanjore there was very little natural stone, so that mostly burnt and unfired adobe bricks were used. The gigantic old temples of Tanjore from the Chola period, however, are made of granite and prove that there must have been a highly developed transport system and building trade in Tanjore in historical times. (Werner Kraus)
The man wears a Maratha turban and shows his devotion to Vishnu with the symbols on his forehead, neck, chest, stomach and arms. His clothing consists solely of a white dhoti. He carries his trade goods, arm rings, in his hand, around his neck and in a sack he has carried with him. The woman wears the usual, indigo-colored sari of the Coromandel Coast and holds two cylinders of cloth with tires on them as an attribute. The sari and jewelry show that she belongs to the Manihar community. Gentoo is an old Anglo-Indian term that means Hindu as opposed to Muslim. The term originally comes from the Portuguese language, where the word gentio means "heather". The Portuguese used it to distinguish the Hindus from the Muslims they called Moros. The term can be proven since 1638. In the 18th century there was a shift in meaning, and a Gentoo was now mainly understood as a Telugu - Telugu is a South Indian language - speaking Hindu. (Werner Kraus)
The magician, the juggler, the sword swallower, the Indian rope trick, the fakir on a board of nails or someone who stabbed his cheeks with an iron - these are all types that Europeans were introduced to through many travelogues. While fakirs had developed strange skills through long asceticism, there were also actors who were able to create amazing illusions simply by using quick tricks. The one shown here is likely to belong to the latter category. (Werner Kraus)
The man is wearing a dark blue jacket with a floral pattern, an Indian hip scarf, dhoti, a white scarf and a peculiar cap that goes up over the ears and is made of the same material as the jacket. He wears a yoke on his shoulder, with two containers attached to both ends. A towel and a small gong hang on the yoke next to it. In his left hand he carries a kind of bag. His wife, dressed in a white sari, also carries a bag in her hand. It is richly adorned, which, however, only needs to be understood symbolically, since in reality a woman of her class would hardly have owned such expensive jewelry and if so, would certainly not have worn it visibly on her long hike. The couple are pilgrims who carry Ganges water from Benares to Rameswaram in the extreme southeast of the country. There they will pour the water over the linga, the symbolic divine penis in Rameswaram. The linga is a symbol of the power and presence of the god Rama (Avatar of Vishnu). On the way home they carry sand from the beach of Rameswaram (where, according to the epic Ramayana, the monkey army had built the bridge to Sri Lanka to free Sita who was kidnapped there) to Benares to scatter it in the Ganges. (Werner Kraus)
Islam was a minority religion in Tanjore during the 18th century. Less than 8% of Tanjore's population were Muslim. Even the number of Christians in Tanjore was higher than that of Muslims. (Nevertheless, images of Christians were not included in the present album.) As everywhere in India in the 18th and 19th centuries, Islam in its mystical form, Sufism, was particularly well represented in southern India. An important part of Sufi popular Islam was the belief in the power of holy places. This force, baraka, was strongly tied to the graves of deceased sheikhs. A sheikh or pir was the head of an Islamic brotherhood, tariqah. The Chistiyyah and the Qadiriyyah were particularly prominent in the south. One such Sufi grave can be seen here. It is not clear whether this is a real or just fictitious architecture. (Werner Kraus)
A blind man with a begging sack and begging bowl is led by his wife on a stick. She is carrying a baby wrapped in a shawl and an 8 year old child with earthenware on her head walks with her. Both the beggar and his wife carry a vessel of water. The blind man has painted the Vishnu symbols on forehead, chest, neck and upper arms and hopes that one will have mercy on him for Vishnu's sake. The religious function of begging was to offer other people the opportunity of active mercy and to enable them to acquire metaphysical merit. Begging blind people were a familiar sight in all pre-industrial societies, for a blind person had few opportunities to earn a living in agricultural and artisanal societies. (Werner Kraus)
Brahmins not only served as priests and religious teachers, but were also found in other professions, especially where literate staff were required. The brahmin pictured here works for the administration (native or British?). The man has a beard and a kudumi, a topknot, and is marked by extensive Vishnu-namam as a follower of Vishnu. Namam or sricharanam means "holy foot". The U-shaped symbol is supposed to represent the footprint of Vishnu, the red line in the middle is a reference to Lakshmi, the feminine form of Vishnu. The man is dressed in a white dhoti with a red border and a yellow scarf with floral ornaments over his left shoulder. In his left hand he holds a palm leaf manuscript, the right one receives a pan, a betel priem that was chewed in India as a light intoxicant. As in almost all pictures, the woman appears as a serving, everyday person. In contrast to the men shown, the women in these pictures are hardly depicted as acting individuals. (Werner Kraus)
This picture is almost identical to the "Banty Man", the Maratha warrior. Although the name is different (Rajah Peon) something very similar is meant. A peon was originally a foot soldier. The word comes from the Portuguese pé, which means "foot". From this developed peão, or the Spanish peon, "soldier on foot" (infantryman). In later times peon was understood to mean an errand boy, a spy, a member of the police or the pawn playing chess. The word lasted particularly long in southern India, which was more influenced by the Portuguese language than the north. In northern India the same person was called chuprassy, in Bombay puttywalla. The fact that two almost identical pictures were given different signatures suggests the working practices of the painting workshops in Tanjore. Obviously there was a limited number of types in the program, which were then also marketed under other names. (Werner Kraus)
Swami is a Hindu idol, especially in South India. The word is derived from the Sanskrit term sudmin, which means "God" or "Lord". In our picture, an avatar of Vishnu is carried in procession through the city. That it is an avatar of Vishnu is evident from the forehead painting (namam) of the leader of the procession. The gods processions, accompanied by music, which took place regularly, usually led through the cities. The depictions of the different Swami processions in the present album never depict an urban ambience, the main event is always depicted in isolation. It has not yet been clarified whether the Tanjore painters were unable to depict larger compositions with architectural backgrounds, or whether the isolated depiction of the divine was part of their tradition. (Werner Kraus)
The processional image symbolically represents the pandschtan, the "five people", who play a special role in Shiite Islam. The five people are the prophet Mohammed in the middle, flanked on the right by his youngest daughter Fatima, her husband Ali (left by Mohammed) and Hasan and Husain, the two sons of Fatima and Ali. Since the Shiites did not agree to the election of the caliph (imam) in the succession of Muhammad, but insisted that he must come from the Prophet's family, the Sunnis and Shiites split. The pandschtan are the core and beginning of Shiite political theology, which assumes that only closest relatives of the prophets are allowed to lead the community. According to this theory, the pandschtan were the only truly legitimized leaders in the succession of Muhammad. The Sunnis, on the other hand, believed that the leader of the community, the caliph, should be elected to his office. This contrast is one reason for the clashes that flare up again and again between Shiites and Sunnis. In Shiite popular belief, the pandschtan are seen as the five great helpers to whom one can turn in personal emergency situations. The well-known Islamic amulet, the so-called Fatima hand, has the same symbolism. While the two men with the bare chests and golden bonnets are probably flagellants, the symbolism of the figures standing next to them and carrying a decorated tree is still unknown. These two figures are also interesting because they are incomplete, not yet painted in. They only appear in drawn outlines and give us an insight into the painter's workshop and the process of creating gouaches. (Werner Kraus)
In contrast to the slipper maker, we are dealing here with a cobbler from a lower caste. His status is not only expressed by his clothes, but also by his facial expression, which cannot be compared with that of the slipper maker. As attributes, he and his wife hold shoes of inferior quality in their hands. Similar to the slipper maker, the shoemaker also carries his tools in a cloth over his shoulder. (Werner Kraus)
Wedding of a classy Maratha dignitary. While the signature of the picture only speaks of a »Gentoo«, that is, a Hindu wedding, you can see from the men's headgear that they are marathons. Marathas made up the ruling house at Tanjore, and many government posts were occupied by Marathas. With an unsuccessful attempt to create a perspective space, the artist shows that this instrument is still alien to him, but that he knows that perspective is one of the preferences of Europeans. The groom sits in the manner of a Mughal miniature with a rose in hand next to his bride, who, according to her new status, leans bashfully to the ground.Five men, whose paintwork shows that they belong to the Shiva cult, sit in front of the bride and groom. The strand of hair on their shaved skull, as well as the sacred cord they wear, identify them as Brahmins. The princely character of the ceremony is indicated by the dignitaries seated on the left and right, by the many musicians and by the nautch, the dancers. The peculiar smallness of the sepoys, who are obviously the guards of the Raja of Tanjore, cannot be read as an appreciation for them. Perhaps this picture shows the wedding of Raja Serfoji? (Werner Kraus)
In contrast to the north, South India is a rice country. Rice is the basis of nutrition and wherever possible it is grown in irrigated fields. At the lower reaches of the mighty and sacred river lies Tanjore, whose wealth has been based on the skillful irrigation systems of the Kaveri valley, which allow multiple annual harvests, since time immemorial. Since there are no real seasons in tropical areas, rice can be grown continuously. In the foreground we see a farmer plowing with two bulls, while in the background women are moving the freshly sprouted, young rice plants one by one. On the right, however, the rice is already yellow on the stalk and is almost ready for harvest. (Werner Kraus)
Dance performances, nautch (Sanskrit: nrtya), were one of the standard methods of entertaining audiences - Indian or European - until the 19th century. The tradition of training and employing dancers was mainly cultivated in the Islamic courts of the north. There these dance performances were called katthak. But the Hindus also used the dance. This was part of the religious practice of the Hindus, more so than with Muslims. After all, Shiva, in his appearance as Nataraj, was considered to be the inventor of the dance. The largest dance festivals, nautch, were held in honor of the goddess Durga. The separation between religious and social dance occasions was never very pronounced among the Hindus. In the late 19th century, when English songs were incorporated into nautch performances, this culture declined. The increasing presence of English women in the colony also contributed to this, who did not particularly like to see their husbands enjoying the (often erotic) dance of young Indian women. In our picture, the dancer is accompanied by four musicians: two bagpipe players, a tabla and a cymbal player. (Werner Kraus)
The caption speaks of Serringham. This is a corruption of Srirangam, an island in the Kaveri River in southern India, which is known for its very revered Vishnu temple. Srirangam, which is about 5 km north of Trichinopoly, today's Tiruchirappalli, and 60 km west of Tanjore, was an important pilgrimage center from time immemorial, which is often referred to as the Benares of the south. The two main temples that still define the cityscape today are the Sri Ranganathaswami and Sri Jambukeswar temples. The "minister" shown here is the high priest of the temple of Srirangam, the chief brahmin of the Vishnu cult, who is carried in a procession through the city and venerated by the faithful. As always in the pictures on this album, no architectural background is painted. The city through which these and other processions lead must be taken into account. (Werner Kraus)
The picture shows the Raja traveling. As is customary in hot southern India, he too traveled by night, albeit on the back of his state elephant. He is accompanied by his uniformed bodyguard and dignitaries as well as a large number of servants. Perhaps the picture alludes to Serfoji's two-year pilgrimage to Benares. (Werner Kraus)
The image of the god carried here in procession is a representation of Krishna (recognizable by the blue complexion), one of the avatars of the god Vishnu. Possibly it is the Krishna image from the temple of Srirangam. The representation of ten avatars of Vishnu was a popular motif for picture albums. These were mainly made by painters in Srirangam, who either came from Tanjore or were heavily influenced by Tanjore painting. The ten avatars of Vishnu in the tradition of Srirangam or Tanjore painting are the fish, the turtle, the wild boar, the lion man, the dwarf, the mythical heroes Parasurama, Rama, Krishna, Balarama and Kalki. Buddha, who is the 9th incarnation of Vishnu in North Indian iconography, was mostly replaced in Tanjore and Srirangam by Balarama, the older brother of Krishna. The procession is preceded again by a dance girl, nautch, and a music group. A special feature of the depiction is that a sepoy, a local soldier with a rifle and attached bayonet, walks both before and after the image of the god. (Werner Kraus)
Compared to her Hindu colleague, the "Moravian", that is, Islamic dancer, appears much more restrained and distant. Their clothing also corresponds more to the Islamic custom in terms of length and closeness. However, she does not cover her hair either, which is an indication of the liberal Islam of southern India, which was shaped by local traditions in the 18th century. While the musicians' instruments are no different from those of the Hindus, their clothing does very well. The Hindu musicians wear the dhoti, the Muslim musicians a long skirt. They also wear shoes. The posture of the young dancer, her play with the scarf, differs noticeably from the hand postures, mudra, of the Hindu dancer. (Werner Kraus)
Rama, hero of the Indian epic "Ramayana" and avatar of Vishnu, is carried here on the shoulders by Hanuman, the leader of the army of monkeys. It is an image of a god from a south Indian temple. The turbans of the people accompanying you can tell that this must be a city controlled by Maratha rulers. Tanjore was such a region, and it could be that this is a real existing idol from a temple in Tanjore. The signature of the picture "Ramah Swamy on a Monkey’s back" cannot come from any Indian. Hanuman has a quasi divine status and is not disrespectfully referred to as an "ape" by any connoisseur of Hindu mythology. The picture shows a processional stay during which the statue is sprinkled and paid homage to. Both the color blue and the forehead paintings of the priests show that this is a Vishnu cult. On the left side you can see that dancers performed not only on social, but mainly on religious occasions. (Werner Kraus)
Mariamman (mother Mari) is the most important South Indian mother goddess, from whom it was once hoped to ward off smallpox. She is usually portrayed as a beautiful woman with multiple arms. The multitude of arms symbolizes the multitude of their powers and powers. Mariamman is also responsible for the fertility of women and the health of unborn children. One of the most famous Mariamman temples is in Punainallur in Tanjore, to which our picture also refers. According to legend, the Raja of Tanjore, Venkoji Maharaja Chatrapati (1676-1688), the goddess Mariamman appeared in a dream and told him to look for her in a Punna grove near Tanjore. When the Raja went there the next day, he found a statue of the goddess and had a temple built there in her honor. This Punnainallur temple still exists today, and a ten-day festival is celebrated there every year, on the 9th day of which the statue of the goddess is pulled through the city on a huge chariot. This festival is shown here. While the richly decorated chariot is being pulled to the left, a few men strive to the right, where there are small, heated earthen vessels on rollers. They pick them up and carry them for a certain distance in their bare hands. Some parts of the gouache (the man on the left, with the multitude of vessels on his head) are not fully worked out, so that we gain an insight into the manufacturing technique of these pictures. (Werner Kraus)
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