Friday, April 19, 2024


Sikh Miniature Paintings-A voyage of discovery

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | October 17, 2022 12:55 AM

Dr Jasbir Singh Sarna
As one opens the covers of this voluminous coffee table book, one is struck by a breathtaking set of Sikh Miniature Paintings. The illustrations depicting each Painting are beautifully rendered. Ludwig W concludes his magnum Opus"Tractatus Logico Philosophicus" by saying :" Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must pass over in silence." What he meant was that there is a point Where speaking has to give way to showing.

The aim of the author is to make the reader aware of the Sikh Miniature Paintings, its Patronage, Extension, Stylistic Borrowings and Influences from time to time. Discussion on most topics is supported by quotes from the Sikh holy Scriptures and incidents and examples from Sikh history.

Dr Gurdeep Kaur was born in a Sikh family of Bareilly, UP in 1984. Her father Sardar Harjeet Singh and mother Surender Kour encouraged her towards Sikh doctrines and culture. She completed her MA in Drawing & Painting from Bareilly College. She also won a Junior Research Fellowship under UGC . She decided on the area of Sikh miniatures and completed her PhD in 2019 from Lovely University .

Her research focuses Sikh influences in Kangra and Guler miniature paintings during the eighteenth- nineteenth centuries. Her area of research is Sikh miniature paintings and Mughal- Rajput & Sikh interactions and influences. She has published 14 research papers and also presented papers in 13 International and National conferences. She has published a book, ‘Tantra Deities in Some Gurmukhī Manuscripts’ in 2021. Her second book ‘Sikh Miniature Paintings- Patronage, Extension, Stylistic Borrowings & Influences’ published in 2022, which is an outcome of efforts of nine years. She did her research with great enthusiasm, fulfilling her duties as daughter-in-law, wife and mother. Her experience of publishing this book was amazing.

In the words of the writer, While giving introduction of the book, She writes that Sikh miniature paintings of Punjab scientifically and systematically. The Term 'Sikh Miniature Paintings' adopted as the title of this book, has been used in a broader sense. It refers not only to the darshan of Sikh Gurus but also includes varied styles and artists active for Sikh patrons in Punjab. Undoubtedly, the paintings from erstwhile Punjab have different characteristics, but they have the same spirit, which give a particular character and flavour to Sikh art and distinguishes it from its Mughal and Rajput predecessors.

Seventeenth century portrayals of Sikh Gurus depict true psychology. Although, Sikh Gurus and their philosophy are anti-idolatry, their likenesses emerged as the result of devotees' love for them and not for their worship. As Guru Gobind Singh announced that whoever calls him God, would go to hell. (Bachittar Natak, canto 6, chaupai/verse 32). Art of portrayals ripened among Sikhs for darshan and memoirs of Gurus. In my opinion, it is a fascinating and absorbing magnum opus of the author.

The book is divided into fifteen Chapters. First ten chapters are related with the miniature paintings of Darshan from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh. Rest five chapters elaborates Darshan of Ram Rai, Sikh Misaldars, Sikh courts, Guler and Kangra School of paintings. It makes valuable reading for Scholars in particular and the lay reader in general. This comprehensive volume by her is a testimony to her love of Sikh miniature paintings in all its pristine nobility and labour of love.She collected maximum miniature paintings from different sources mentioned on page 252 under 'Photo Credits'. This book should be in every library.

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