Beyond temple paintings: towards an alternative history of the Deccani Scroll Paintings
In the southern Indian state of Telangana, itinerant storytellers narrate genealogies of local castes using scroll paintings on cloth as a visual aid to their performance. The oldest scroll dates 1625 and belongs to the collection of Jagdish Mittal in Hyderabad. This talk challenges the linear view that the Telangana scroll painting tradition – also known as Deccani scroll painting – originates in the courtly arts of the 16th century in South India. Instead, it proposes an alternative methodology to understand the history of these paintings in looking at much less documented folk art forms that developed at the same time in the region. Based on examples of scrolls from the British Museum and Mittal’s collections, ranging from 1625 to the nineteenth century, this talk first re-examines comparisons previously made in the literature, between the 1625 scroll and the ‘classical’ 16th-century paintings at Lepakshi. In complement, the second part introduces folk art forms that might have equally informed the development of the Deccani scroll painting tradition, such as Kalamkari hangings from Andhra Pradesh, leather puppets from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Paithan paintings from Maharashtra, and Phad paintings from Rajasthan.
Anaïs Da Fonseca is currently an Adjunct Researcher at Tate Research Centre: Asia, working on a project that questions the role of vernacular practices in modern and contemporary art from India. She is currently working towards a publication on the Weavers Service Centre in India along with an exhibition on the artist Prabakher Barwe and his years at the Centre.
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Image: Shah Jahan and his four sons, Deccan, c.1680–1700 (after a Mughal original), British Library IOR/Johnson 25,2