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Raja Sanai Hari Singh hunting

Enter this painting of Raja Sanai Hari Singh hunting from India (Rajasthan state), and embark on a journey with Qamar Adamjee, Associate Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. For more information: education.asianart.org. Created by Asian Art Museum.

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Video transcript

- [Qamar] Hi, I'm Qamar Adamjee, Associate Curator of Saltation and Islamic art at the Asian Art Museum. And here we are looking at a painting of Raja Sanai Hari Singh, hunting. Dating from approximately 1800, from the North Indian state of Rajasthan. And as I speak about this painting, I encourage you to look closely at the details and enjoy all the elements that you see here. At first glance, this is a fairly formal royal portrait showing the Maharaja at hunt. On the right side, we see the Maharaja in the palace and on the left is the hunting grounds. It's a night time scene as indicated by the overall color pallette of grays and greens. On the upper balcony, top right, the Maharaja is seated with his female attendants. He's aiming a rifle, pointed at the tiger that's hiding behind a rocky out crop on the bottom left of the painting. One of the Maharajas' attendance is filling up a second rifle with the gun powder ready to facilitate the entire hunt. At the bottom right are two palace guards, who are enjoying an evening of quiet leisure, as they engage in conversation. As suggested by the gestures of their hands as they smoke a hookah or a water pipe, which they hold with them. We can only imagine the quiet conversation, between these two men punctuated by the soft bubbling of the water of the hookah. As we look at this painting we realize that within a few moments the silence of the evening is going to be disrupted. Once the Maharaja releases the shot from his rifle, there will be a corresponding loud roar from the tiger. Which will frighten the two boar that are facing him. And there will be a lot of rustling of bushes stampeding over grass and a lot of animal activity that will be punctuated by celebratory sounds coming from the upper balcony, rejoicing the Maharaja's skill at hunting. And which collectively, that will disrupt the evening for the palace guards, who will be mobilized into action. So, I think that this actually embeds an element of present time as well as a future. And it's up to the viewer to enter the painting and mentally unfold the sequence of events that will soon come together. (majestic music)