Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Maharaja Sital Dev in Devotion

Date:
ca. 1690
Culture:
India (Punjab Hills, Basohli)
Medium:
Ink, opaque watercolor, and silver on paper
Dimensions:
Image: 5 5/8 x 4 5/8 in. (14.3 x 11.7 cm) Page: 7 1/4 x 6 1/4 in. (18.4 x 15.9 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Cynthia Hazen Polsky Gift, 2000
Accession Number:
2000.24
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 251
The image of the blind raja Sital Dev stands apart from other dynastic portraits. Here, the focus is on his private devotion, as he sits holding a mala (rosary) and reciting mantras. Not only is he unattended, but his surroundings are simple and stripped of the iconography of kingship. The immediacy and poignancy of the depiction is surprising since it dates to more than thirty years after Sital Dev’s death and reflects the subdued Basohli style of this later period. For the patron who commissioned this work, it was the maharaja’s spiritual quest that was important, rather than his standing as a ruler.
Inscription: Inscribed above in takri script: sri raj sital mankotia; similar Persian inscription on reverse in a late hand (with various takri numerals and inscription)
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