Ragini / Bani-Thani Paintings

Descriptions :
Bani Thani is an Indian painting in the Kishangarh school of paintings. It has been labeled as India's "Mona Lisa".

The painting's subject, Bani Thani, was a singer and poet in Kishangarh in the time of king Savant Singh (1748–1764).

History of Kishangarh painting Rajasthan is situated on the northwestern part of India, near the Pakistan border. Kishangarh is a province in Rajasthan and has contributed immensely in the field of painting. It is situated between Jaipur and Ajmer. It is picturesquely situated on the side of a lake called Gundolav. The fort, Mokham Vilas, and the palace, Phool Mahal, overlook the waters. The miniature artists have beautifully depicted this palace, fort, lake, bridges, gardens and the Kishangarh town in the background of their paintings.

Maharaja Kishan Singh, the nineth son of Uday Singh, chief of Jodhpur, founded Kishangarh in 1594. He made a palace bearing his name. Right from the time of Kishan Singh, the rulers worshipped Nritya Gopal, an idol of Lord Krishna in dancing pose. The influence of Vaishnava religion encouraged the Bhakti or faith for the Divine. Expressions of faith
adorn the works of Kishangarh painting, literature, music and dance.

While in most of the Rajasthani states, painting had come to a close by the end of the eighteenth century, a new school of painting emerged in the small state of Kishangarh. Its ruler Raja Sawant Singh (1748-1757) was well versed in Sanskrit, Persian and Marwari languages, and had also studied music and painting. He was a great devotee of Krishna, and wrote many poems under the pen name Nagaridas. Paintings were mostly based on his poems. He played an important role in the creation of Kishangarh masterpieces.

Sawant Singh fell in love with a slave girl who was brought from Delhi by his stepmother. She was a singer, poetess and was attracted towards the love songs for Krishna. Since she was elegantly dressed and remained decorated and well behaved, she was known as Bani Thani, meaning well dressed. King Sawant Singh commanded his artists to paint her portrait and since then Bani Thani is portrayed as Radha and Sawant Singh as Krishna. The court artist Nihal Chand produced the best Kishangarh paintings. The paintings obtained a new style for Radha and Krishna figures. The golden era of Kishangarh paintings was during the time of Sawant Singh. He developed new expressions and forms that propagated this splendid style of Kishangarh.
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