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Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

Panel 16th century Description: with a grid of carved and pierced rectangular compartments
Materials & Technique: sculptures, yellow sandstone; carved and pierced
Dimensions: 121.0 h x 113.0 w x 7.5 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2006
Accession No: NGA 2006.669
Provenance:
  • The supplied chain of ownership for this object is being reviewed and further research is underway. The provenance information listed has been substantiated by documentation. Details may be refined and updated as research progresses.
  • with private collector, before 2003 (details to be confirmed)
  • with art dealer Francesca Galloway of Francesca Galloway, London, 2006 or before
  • who sold it to the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2006 for GBP 35,000

The beautiful walled city of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, founded by the twelfth-century ruler Jaisal, was the last of the Rajput kingdoms to enter into an alliance with the Mughals. The Rajput nobles, members of the warrior (kshatriya) caste, had competed fiercely among themselves for territory for centuries. Muslim incursions from the thirteenth century onwards altered this balance of power, and had a lasting influence on Rajput art and culture. The architecture of Jaisalmer is characterised by exquisitely carved balconies, windows and entrances, which clearly show the adoption and adaptation of Mughal aesthetics and decorative techniques.

Although this screen superficially resembles the Mughal openwork screens (jali) used as windows and room dividers, the essentially decorative panel is not pierced and was possibly set within a solid wall. Made from yellow sandstone, the delicate carved panel is divided into a grid of twelve square compartments, arranged around a larger central square. The grid lines are made up of a stylised flower pattern. The four squares in the top register each contain a fluid, swirling tree-like design surmounted by confronting ducks or peacocks, while the lower squares display a variety of intricate geometric designs.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

The Rajput nobles of Rajasthan were members of the warrior (kshatriya) caste. They competed fiercely amongst themselves for territory and their conduct was based on clan loyalty, revenge and death in the face of defeat. Muslim incursions from the 13th century onwards altered the balance of power and had a lasting influence on their art and culture. Jaisalmer, founded by the 12th-century ruler Jaisal, was the last of the Rajput kingdoms to enter into an alliance with the Mughals. The 16th century arrangement was cemented by the marriage of a Jaisalmer princess to the emperor Akbar.

Although the screen superficially resembles the Mughal openwork jali screens used as windows and room dividers, this essentially decorative panel is not pierced and was possibly set within a solid wall.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label