KUM99001.JPG Title: Bani Thani
Artist: Gopal Kumawat
School: Kishangarh

‘Bani Thani’ the famous image depicted in Kishangarh paintings was the love of Raja Savant Singh of Kishangarh, a small state in Rajasthan (N.W. India) South of Jaipur.

Bani Thani was the most beautiful woman in Kishangarh and was employed as a gayana (singer) by the Raja’s step mother. She was known as Bani Thani (The Bewitching Lady of Fashion) and her Royal lover immortalised her in his poems and the Raja commissioned his court artists to paint her in all her finery. Her beautiful almond shaped eyes and acquiline features was the origin of the Kishangarh School of miniature art. Gopal Kumawat has captuered all the features of the Kishangarh School but in his own style.

Since the Raja was a Vaishnavite (follower of the Krishan/Vishnu Sect) all the Kishnagarh paintings depict him as Krishan and her as Radha. The Raja, or rather Nagari Das, his nom de plume as a poet translated his love for Bani Thani into romantic poems of Krishna and Radha. In one poem, Nagari Das writes:

Her face is gleaming like the brightness of the sun.
High arched, twin pencilled eyebrows hover on her brow
like black bees over a lily pond,
And her dark tresses fall here and there like the
curling tendrils of a creeper.
Bejewelled is her nose curved and sharp like the
thrusting saru (cypress) plant.
And her lips have formed a gracious bow parting into
a queenly smile
Lips red as poppy flowers glowing in the scorching sun
Of June’s long stagnant afternoon – what time
the amorous dove complains.

Gopal Kumawat’s randtion of Bani Thani has been handled with appeal of line and colour, through dark fringed lid of the half-closed eye lends an enigmatic quality which the corner of the amorously curled mouth, as about to break into a smile. And the jet-black hair waves with a tendril-like caress over the curve of the cheek and ends a shapely silhouette.