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A Sacred Journey: The Kedara Kalpa Series of Pahari Paintings & the Painter Purkhu of Kangra

B. N. Goswamy (Author) Karuna Goswamy (Author)

The Kedara Kalpa is a relatively little-known Shaiva text; and only slightly better known than it are the two dispersed series of paintings to which this study is devoted. But both raise questions that are at once elegant and deeply engaging. Ostensibly, they treat of a journey by five seekers who set out to reach the realm of the great god, Shiva – walking barefoot through icy mountains and deep ravines, frozen rivers and moon-like rocks, running on the way into temptations and dangers the like of which no man before them had encountered – and, in the end, succeed. But as one goes through the narrative, the text visualized with brilliance sometimes by members of a talented family of Pahari painters, one begins to wonder. Is this a parable of sorts? Or the description of a long, unending dream from which one never wakes? Or, one wakes up like those five seekers and then, at the very next moment, slips back into that real / unreal world again? Is there something that hides behind all that one sees? Is this journey real, or is it only in the mind?


It is for each reader to decide, the authors appear to say.

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About the authors

B. N. Goswamy

B.N. Goswamy, a distinguished art historian, is Professor Emeritus of Art History at Panjab University, Chandigarh. His work covers a wide range of subjects, and is regarded, especially in the area of Indian painting, as having influenced most thinking. He has been the recipient of many honours, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, the Rietberg Award for Outstanding Research in Art History, the JDR III Fellowship, the Mellon Senior Fellowship and, from the President of India, Padma Shri (1998) and Padma Bhushan (2008). Apart from Panjab University, Professor Goswamy has taught, as Visiting Professor, in major universities across the world, and has been responsible for significant exhibitions of Indian art at international venues, including Paris, San Francisco, Zurich, New Delhi, San Diego, and New York. He is the author of over twenty-five books on Indian art and culture, including Pahari Painting: The Family as the Basis of Style (1968); Painters at the Sikh Court: A Study Based on Twenty Documents (1975); A Place Apart: Paintings from Kutch (1983); The Essence of Indian Art (1986); Wonders of a Golden Age: Painting at the Courts of the Great Mughals (1987); Pahari Masters: Court Painters of Northern India (with E. Fischer, 1992); Indian Costumes in the Calico Museum of Textiles (1993); Nainsukh of Guler: A great Indian Painter from a small Hill State (1997); Domains of Wonder: Selected Masterworks of Indian Painting (with C. Smith, 2005); and, more recently, The Spirit of Indian Painting: Close Encounters with 100 Great Works (2014, 2016) and Pahari Paintings: The Horst Metzger Collection in the Museum Rietberg (with E. Fischer, 2018).

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Karuna Goswamy

Karuna Goswamy, Professor at the Panjab University, Chandigarh, is an historian whose work is distinguished by the use of materials and sources too often ignored by others. Gaining an understanding of the social impulses that the art of any given period mirrors, and using art as primary evidence, have marked virtually all her work. Author of two important studies, Vaishnavism in the Punjab Hills, and Pahari Painting (doctoral dissertation, Chandigarh, 1968), and The Glory of the Great Goddess: An Illustrated Manuscript from Kashmir in the Alice Boner Collection (Zurich, 1989), Dr. Goswamy has also published a large number of research papers. The present work was completed by her at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, where she was a Fellow for the years 1991-93. Currently she is engaged in an extensive research project on The Dussehra of Kulu: History and Development of a Cultural Phenomenon.

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Bibliographic information

Title A Sacred Journey: The Kedara Kalpa Series of Pahari Paintings & the Painter Purkhu of Kangra
Format Hardcover
Date published: 27.10.2021
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher Niyogi Books
Language: English
isbn 9789391125356
length Full Colour, 172 photographs, Size: 300 mm x 228 mm