Detail from a summer carpet.Coastal South-East India.Collected in Amber circa 1640. Cotton, painted resist- and mordant-dyed.
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17th Century Wrestler’s Weight
Carved from a single piece of black basalt, this 17th century stone dumbbell or ‘nal’ from the Deccan makes a sculptural statement. With its open centre and horizontal grip, this rare object speaks of the wrestler’s hands that would have lifted it.
For the warrior class and nobility of the Indian courts, gymnastics and martial arts were an important part of their position. These ‘dumbbells’ or ‘nals’ would have been part of their physical training, and came in progressive weights for the development of biceps, triceps, and leg muscles. We can see similar weights and training objects depicted in dynamic use by bare-chested acrobats and wrestlers in Ragamala paintings representing Desakh Ragini. Swipe to see the weights in use and for a detail of two wrestlers inlaid in ivory on a rosewood chest (Gujarat or Deccan, c. 1700) made for export to Europe.
1) Wrestler’s weight (Deccan, Golconda or Hyderabad, 17th century; carved basalt; d 19 cm; dia. 27 cm)
2) Image from ‘The Encyclopaedia of Indian Physical Culture’
3) Image of a cabinet with figurative ivory inlay (Gujarat or Deccan, for export to Europe, c. 1700; rosewood inlaid with ivory; h 41 cm; w 61 cm; d: 40 cm)
The Epic is Never Over
The title of the exhibition “Court, Epic, Spirit: Indian Art 15th-19th Century,” in partnership with Luhring Augustine Tribeca, refers to three key lenses through which to view the multi-faceted and extraordinarily inventive arts of India. In this video we begin to peer through the second lens, as poet, art critic, and curator Ranjit Hoskote reads from his essay ‘The Epic is Never Over.’ Hoskote invokes the figure of the dastango or storyteller, and touches on key works on display depicting scenes from epic texts. • "Court Epic Spirit" is on view until March 24th 2022. You can read Ranjit Hoskote’s full essay in the exhibition catalogue, available through our website
18th century Awadh and Bengal: political instability and artistic patronageA context for paintings from the Louisa Parlby Album by J.P Losty