VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Rajahmundry Manuscript
As 4673
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The paintings are simple in style, but are obviously works of experienced professional painters. They have a lot in common with Deccan mural paintings and may have been executed by artists who did both. These features are typical of artworks commissioned by the Hindu rajahs of the Deccan in the 18th Century – as opposed to the works produced for muslim clients. Before the identification of our manuscript by Jagdish Mittal in the late 1960s, art historians had not been aware of Rajahmundry as a centre of Deccani painting. It was only by means of these dated and comparatively well-documented paintings that other works from Rajahmundry can now be placed in art history. Our manuscript also seems to be the only complete collection known of Rajahmundry paintings executed for one client.

History of the Object
The paintings were at first produced as loose single sheets. On the back of each leaf, there is a text in Telugu giving the content of the painting and other commentaries. Below this is a translation of that same text to Persian. It has been argued that this translation may have been written by the original Muslim patron for whom the paintings were made. The paintings came into the possession of Pierre Duplant de Laval a few months after their completion. He was a French nobleman who lived in Pondicherry as a merchant with the India Company. Back in Europe, Duplant de Laval had the paintings bound into a book in leather binding with a printed frontispiece in French stating him as the owner.

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Type
Book 
Materials
Colours on Paper, Leather. 
Measurements
Width 33,5 cm Height 34 cm  
Creator name
Nandigam Nagesam and Kamaroutu Venkatesam, painters. Kolapelli Buchni, commentator. 
Creator date
18th Century 
Where it was made
India; Andhra Pradesh; Rajahmundry 
Geography
India 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
18th Century; 1758; completed Sept. 14th 
Function
Collection of paintings depicting scenes from the Ramayana epos and introducing gods of Hinduism. Possibly produced for a Non-Hindu client. 
Acquisition
The book was entered into the library of our museum before 1910. It is unknown from whom it was obtained. 
Copyright
Saal/Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg, 
Acknowledgements
Thanks to Jagdish Mittal and Sistla Srinivas for invaluable information on this book. 
Owner
Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg, 
Museum
Museum of Ethnology, Hamburg 
Credit line
Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg, Inv.-Nr. As 4673 

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