By Tamil Bookshelf
The modern encyclopedia was developed from the dictionary in the 18th century. Historically, both encyclopedias and dictionaries have been researched and written by well-educated, well-informed content experts, but they are significantly different in structure. A dictionary is a linguistic work which primarily focuses on alphabetical listing of words and their definitions. Synonymous words and those related by the subject matter are to be found scattered around the dictionary, giving no obvious place for in-depth treatment. Thus, a dictionary typically provides limited information, analysis or background for the word defined. While it may offer a definition, it may leave the reader lacking in understanding the meaning, significance or limitations of a term, and how the term relates to a broader field of knowledge. An encyclopedia is, theoretically, not written in order to convince, although one of its goals is indeed to convince its reader of its own veracity.
Prakrit and Pali are the languages belonging to the Middle Indo-Aryan period (600 B.C. to 1000 A.D.). Prakrit is the term used to denote uncultivated popular dialects. It finds mentions in inscriptions dating as far back as 4th century B.C. and going up to the Gupta age. The earliest grammatical works in Prakrit include Vararuci’s ‘Prakita-prakasa’ (5 A.D.) and Hemachandra’s Prakrit grammar (12 A.D.). The various Prakrit dialects that were in use include ‘Maharastri’, ‘Sauraseni’, ‘Magadhi’ and ‘Paisaci’. The Prakrits were transformed in the course of time to the ‘Apabhramsa’ dialects, which were widely used in folk and mainstream literature. Prakrit flourished under the Satavahana rulers and Hala, the 17th Satavahana ruler himself authored a Prakrit work called ‘Saptasati’.
Pali and Ardha-Magadhi are also Prakrits, which were used in early Buddhist and Jain literature. The origin of Pali is a matter of conjecture. While some consider Pali as ‘Magadhi Prakrit’, others point to its close resemblance to the ‘Paisaci Prakrit’, which was in use in the Vindhya region. Some well-known early works in Pali include ‘Tripitakas’, ‘Petakopadesa’, ‘Visuddhimagga’ and ‘Milindapanha’.
The Shekhawati havelis of Rajasthan are renowned for their wall paintings. These havelis were profusely painted with frescos depicting gods and kings, flowers and arabesques and scenes from everyday life. The Shekhawati paintings also depict Europeans, identified by their hats in a sea of turbans, as infantry in opposite sides. The technique of Fresco painting in Shekawati was not primitive or unique to the area but very close to the Italian Fresco technique developed around the 14th century. In Shekhawati the fresco painters were called Chiteras and belonged to the caste of Kumhars or Potters. They were also called Chejaras, masons, since they performed both functions of painting as well as building construction.
Initially only vegetable pigments were used for colour like Kajal (Lamp black), Safeda (Lime) for white, neel (indigo) for blue, geru (red stone) for red, kesar (saffron) for orange and pevri (yellow clay) for yellow ochre. Later chemical pigments and synthetic dyes from Germany and England were also used. The Chhatris at Narhad (built 1508 A.D.) and Jhunjhunu (built by Hansa Ram in 1680-82 A.D.) are fine specimens of this form of painting.
Mewar was in the forefront in all fields of creative art and architecture under illustrious rulers like Maharana Kumbha and Maharana Sanga. Illustrated manuscripts produced at Chittor, Delwada, Ahar and Chawand from 13th century onwards provide a continuous history of the Mewar School. A Ragamala set painted at Chawand in 1605 A.D. by Nisardi is a landmark of this school followed by many masterpieces of Manohar and others produced under Maharana Jagat Singh. Multi-painting sets of ‘Ramayana’, ‘Gita-Govinda’, ‘Sur Sagar’, ‘Arsh Ramayana’ and ‘Rasikapriya’ were prepared in an unmistakably bold, colourful and well defined style.
Nathdwara became an important religious and artistic centre in the 17th century and pictures and ‘Pichwais’ or large screen paintings were produced in abundance. Other sub-schools of Mewar are Devgarh, Sawar, Sirohi, Shahpura, Pratapgarh, Banswara and Dungarpur, each showing its own regional characteristic in a subtle but recognizable manner.
The most important centres of Marwar were Jodhpur and Bikaner, both ruled by the Rathods, and Jaisalmer ruled by the Bhatis. The typical Marwar painting of bold lines and blazing colours, showing well-built heroic males wearing prominent whiskers and huge turbans and colourfully attired dainty damsels flourished in Jodhpur in the 15th and the 16th centuries. Initially, the paintings followed the Mughal style but by the middle of 18th century the Mughal style faded and the Rajput elements (linear rhythm coupled with glowing colours) became more predominant. The reign of Karan Singh (1631-1669) witnessed the production of many ‘Ragamala’ genre paintings by the Mughal artists like Ali Raza and Hamid Ruknuddin. This style of painting reached its climax under Raja Man Singh (1803-1843). Extensive series of paintings illustrating ‘Shiva Purana’, ‘Natacharitra’, ‘Durgacharitra’, ‘Panchatantra’ and the ‘Kama Sutra’ were produced under his patronage.
Bikaner recruited skilful and experienced painters from the Mughal court for creating highly finished miniatures in the Mughal painting-like style. These painters, known as ‘Ustas’ created some of the finest representations of ‘Rasikapriya’, ‘Ragamala’, ‘Baramasa’, ‘Krishnalila’ and portraits and court paintings. Paintings on wooden panes and door panels and camel hides became quite typical of the ‘Usta’ style of Bikaner. The ‘thikanas’ of Pali, Chanerao, Jalor, Kuchaman and Nagaur also employed painters who worked in styles close to the Marwar idiom.
The Kishangarh School of Painting emerged as a distinctive style in the middle of 18th century under the patronage of Maharaja Sawant Singh. Nihal Chand, a gifted artist in the Maharaja’s court, produced some highly individualistic and sophisticated works, which are by any standard great works of art. The chief characteristics of the Kishengarh paintings were the elongation of human faces, lavish use of green and depiction of panoramic landscapes. Portrayal of Radha and Krishna in elongated faces is a common subject of Kishangarh paintings. The elongated neck, the long stylised eyes with drooping eyelids, the thin lips and pointed chin of Radha standing in a graceful pose with her head covered with a muslin odhni, is undoubtedly the most striking creation of the Kishangarh school.
This style continued into the 19th century and a series of paintings of the Gita Govinda were produced in 1820.
The earliest traces of painting in the Dhundhar or Amer-Jaipur region are to be found on the wall structures belonging to the Mughal period at Bairat and in the early 17th century palaces and mausoleums of Amer, in modern Rajasthan. These paintings are primarily folk-styled, although the male figures are shown wearing Mughal costumes and head dresses. This type of painting is also seen in some Jain manuscripts written at Mauzumabad and Amer during the same period.
This school of painting reached its acme towards the close of the 18th century during the reign of Sawai Pratap Singh. More than a dozen painters worked in his ‘surat khana’ to produce hundreds of miniatures to illustrate ‘Bhagawad Purana’, Ramayana, ‘Ragamala’, portraits and other works.
Bundi became an established centre of art and paintings in Rajasthan from 17th to 19th centuries. The Hada Rajput rulers of Bundi and their collateral branch at Kota were enlightened patrons of art. The Bundi or Hadoti School of paintings began under Rao Chattar Sal (1631-1659 A.D.), who was made the Governor of Delhi by Shah Jahan. The Bundi artists had their own depiction of feminine beauty. A typical Bundi-Kota miniature has graceful women with round faces, receding foreheads and shins, strong noses, full cheeks, lotus petal eyes, sharp eyebrows and well-formed bodies. The human figures were put in the backdrop of plants and evergreen forests, along with elephants, lions, tigers and wild boars.
The ‘Bhagwad Purana’ paintings are the best examples of early Bundi paintings. This style of painting evolved further under the patronage of Raja Ummed Singh (1749-1771 A.D.) and gave rise to a class of Indian paintings known as the ‘Ragamala’ and ‘Baramasa’ paintings. These paintings depict the moods and sentiments of men and women, time of the day, seasons and ‘ragas’ and ‘raginis’ linked to the seasons. A strong element of romance and mythology is integrated in these paintings. Under Bishen Singh (1771-1821 A.D.), hunting and wild animals became the favourite subjects. These paintings came under the western influence during the reign of Ram Singh (1828-1866 A.D.).
Dappu Dance: Dappu Nrityam or Dappu Dance is a reputed dance form in the Telangana. Dappu is known by different names in various parts of the state such as Tapetta and Palaka. This dance form derives its name from the melodiously rhythmic musical instrument ‘Dappu’, which is a percussion instrument (drum) shaped like a tambourine. This dance form is believed to have originated from the Nizamabad district of Telangana. The dance performers wear colorful and bright attires. The dance is usually performed at many festive occasions.
Lambadi : Lambadi is an ancient folk dance of Telangana (and Andhra Pradesh), which is performed by the semi-nomadic tribes called ‘Lambadis’ or ‘Banjaras’ or ‘Sengalis’. The dance owes its origin to tribes in Rajasthan. Lambadi dance is usually performed by females and only a rare participation by the males. The dancers were colourful embroidered costumes embellished with glass beads and mirrors and ornate jewellery. The dance involves every-day themes like harvesting, planting and sowing. The dancers use words from Rajasthani, Gujarati, Marathi and Telugu languages. Lambadi is generally a group dance which is performed on various festivals sch as Holi, Dussehra, Deepawali and other such occasions.
Perini Sivatandavam : Perini Sivatandavam or Perini Thandavam is a typical war dance which owes its origins to the 11th century rulers of Kakatiya dynasty. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva (Lord Rudra). Historical insights into the dance form can be found in the thousand pillared temples and shrines at Palampet and Ghanapur in Warangal district. This dance form is performed only by men who dance to the accompaniment of bells, drums and conches.
Gusadi : Gusadi is a folk dance is performed by ‘Raj Gonds’ or the Gondulu tribes in the of Adilabad district of Telangana. The dance is generally performed during the festival of Diwali. The dancers wear colourful costumes decorated with ornaments and move around in the villages in troupes, singing and dancing. Such troupes are called Dandari dance troupes. ‘Gusadi’ is a part of Dandari and consists of two to five members.
Mayuri : This folk dance is performed in the tribal areas of Khammam district.
The sense of fun and frolic of the Nagas is seen in many of their dances. All the Naga tribes have their particular harvest dances.
Aaluyattu: This dance is performed by the Konyak tribe. Agurshikukula: This is a war dance. Butterfly Dance: This dance is performed by the Zeliang tribe Changai Dance: This dance is performed by the Changs. Khamba Lim: It is performed by two groups of men and women who stand in two rows. A similar dance is known as the Akhu. Kuki Dance: It is performed by the Nagas using bamboo sticks. Leshalaptu: This dance is performed by the women. Mayur Dance: It is an animal dance. Modse: This dance is performed by Ao tribe Monyoasho: It is another dance form of Nagaland. Sadal Kekai: This dance is performed by the Kuki tribe. Seecha & Kukui Kucho: These dances performed by the Angami tribe. Shankai & Moyashai: It is a victory dance performed by Lotha tribe. Rengma: This dance is performed by the Rengma tribe, especially during the Ngada festival.
Chawnglaiznam: This dance is performed by the Pawi tribe
Chheihlam: It is a tribal dance, which embodies the spirit of joy and jubilation. The dance is performed to the accompaniment of a song called ‘chheihhla’.
Chiraw: It is another popular dance form of Mizoram.