Proshitapatika Nayika, a Heroine whose Lover has Gone Away
from a Rasikapriya of Keshav Das series
Punjab Hills, Himachal Pradesh, Kangra, ca. 1820
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Folio 11 ⅝ x 8 ⅜ in, 29.5 x 21.5 cm
Painting 9 x 5 ⅞ in, 23 x 15 cm
A list of Keshav Das’ nayikas includes the sixth of eight general categories, one called Proshitapatika. She is the one whose husband has gone off and failed to reappear on the stated day. She sits despondently hunched over and is consoled by a sakhi or confidant. According to verses on the back of this painting, the husband apparently had stayed away a day longer than planned and the nayika has been harsh to him. The poetry is recited by her sakhi who tells the nayika that her life is fulfilled by his return. Why is she so mournful, her stubbornness is tougher than wood, why does it not burn? The sakhi sits with upraised hands clearly lecturing the stubborn princess. She clearly is mending fences.
The terrace setting is commonly seen in Indian paintings from all over India, with a pavilion to one side and a distant view to the other. An elaborate garden with fountain separates the figures from the viewer.
I thank Heidi Pauwels for taking a look at the inscriptions on the reverse and suggesting some interpretation from Keshav Das’ verses from the Rasikapriya.
For a complete translation of the text see Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, The Eight Nāyikās, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 2000, pp. 21-22.
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