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Maharaja Kumar Isri Singh’s Crocodile Hunt

Western India, Rajasthan, Jaipur or Unaira

Not on view

This painting depicts a most remarkable event: a Rajput prince in hand-to-hand combat with crocodiles. An inscription in the upper (red) margin identifies the combatant as Maharaja Kumar Isri Singh, seen here along with his courtiers, but the illegibility of the remaining passage denies us further information about the occasion being celebrated.

Three palaces, with rich textile awnings projecting from their terraces, occupy the horizon. The ruler, identified by a golden nimbus framing his face, appears twice: first, entering left in a golden howdah (carriage) atop an elephant, and second, bare-chested in the water thrusting a punch dagger into an unfortunate crocodile distracted by a tasty fish. Marksmen sit on the embankment (bund) ready to shoot any crocodile that gets the advantage. Courtiers and a palanquin with bearers await the end of the sport. At least one preparatory drawing is known for this painting, the style of which is in keeping with interior murals at a temple at Baroli, near Unaira.

Maharaja Kumar Isri Singh’s Crocodile Hunt, Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, Western India, Rajasthan, Jaipur or Unaira

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