Beneath The Banyan Tree - Rajasthani Par

Rajasthani Par Painting from a distanceThe Rajasthani par present a different form of narrative art, one attached to epic singing. Representing complex stories in scrolls that traditionally were 5-6 feet high and 20 feet or more feet long, the scrolls are packed with images that aid the epic singer (who is not the painter) to recall the story that he is singing; as such, the scrolls act both as a pictorial reminder of the story and as a portable temple to the deity. The most common stories found in the par are those of Pabuji, thought to be a medieval Rajput prince who is now widely worshiped by herdsmen and others throughout rural Rajasthan, and Devnarayan, another epic hero. Each is performed by a bhopa, who sings and chants the epic story while playing a simple fiddle and dancing before his rural audiences. An assistant lights the section of the scroll being narrated with a hand-held brass or clay lamp.

Close up of Rajasthani par painting depicting PabujiThe two par here were collected by Joseph C. Miller, who received his Ph.D. in South Asian Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994. Dr. Miller has studied the Devnarayan stories and scroll making since the 1970’s. In addition to loaning the scrolls presented here, Dr. Miller produced the videos on Bengali patas and Rajasthani scrolls used in this exhibition.

Finally, we had two visiting artists-in-residence, Shrilal Joshi and Kalyan Joshi of Bhilwara, Rajasthan, who demonstrated the making of a par.

  • Beneath the Bayan Tree
  • Teachers Resources
  • Terracota & Brass
  • Mithila Paintings
  • Bengali Patas
  • Rajasthani Par