Tag Archives: miniature painting

A World in Miniature

Kamancheh Player, painting from Hasht Behesht Palace, Isfahan, 1669

The historic, colourful and bustling city of Jaipur, Rajasthan, is home to some remarkable artists who are repositories of that ancient skill: the painting of miniatures. Miniatures that have found their way around the world! And, thanks to my meeting with one such extraordinary individual, a selection of Jaipur Miniatures now graces the display cases at Arastan.

It is no exaggeration to say, that every time I see a miniature, I am taken by surprise!

Its size never ceases to amaze me. Then there’s the intricate detail – down to the last, delicate eyelash resting on a rosy cheek. The smooth, flowing lines of the human body, a bird’s wings, a horse going full tilt. Vibrant, vivid colours – picked out in burnished (in fact 24 karat!) gold and sparkling silver.

Amazing! And to think that the Indian miniature is an art form that can be traced back to about …

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Exhausted (after orange lemons at Chorsu Bazaar and exquisite miniatures at Abulkasim Medressa)

Miniature Paintings

It’s 11.15pm and we’re exhausted. We did so much today that photocaptions are all we can get our minds around. So, here goes:

Caravan is Tashkent’s quintessential theme restaurant eclectically put together to look like an Uzbek village home… the sprawling charpoy, water wheel, cane platters, dried chillies, worn kilims and old suzanis… The attached crafts store is to die for. Particularly loved the silk and felt appliqué stoles… Hard yogurt balls (kurut) are Uzbek equivalents of mumphali (peanuts). They come in all shapes, salted, spiced and what not. Great with beer we’re told. At the Chorsu Bazaar fresh fruit market. Just could not get over the beautiful shape of these lemons. They give a divine flavour to their teas which we are consuming by the potful. Have to take a couple home. After visiting the Indian Embassy, Ikat shops at Chorsu Bazaar, the travel agent and the beautiful home …

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Uzbekistan Beckons

Shılpıq, Karakalpakstan

Nisha and I are off to Uzbekistan on the 27th. Can’t believe it’s actually happening! Four months ago, I didn’t even know where Uzbekistan was and now, it’s like I have travelled there a million times on the virtual silk roads of our times. And that’s even before I’ve physically got there!

We’ll be crisscrossing the country in search of craft that flourished in the 13th century when, besides trade, artists and artisans met and interacted along the silk routes. It is believed that ceramists from China were summoned by the great conqueror Amir Timur to teach the potters of Fergana the secret behind their brilliant blue porcelain. The nomads that traversed the Central Asian steppes frequented the silk roads to trade their suzanis, kilms, jajims (tribal blankets) and carpets. Miniature painters from China would inspire royal painters of Central Asian dynasties to document the life and times of their …

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Rediscovering the Silk Road

Silk Road map

The Silk Road was never one long road. Rather, it was a series of smaller land (and later, maritime) routes, which formed an intricate network between the Occident and the Orient. It linked Europe, India and the Far East via Central Asia. Take a look at this map, and you’ll see that Somalia, Thailand and even Indonesia were en route. For over one thousand years, these ancient pathways were the most important and best-known route in the world, transporting not just silk but all manner of exotic goods such as pepper, jade, glass, oranges, peaches, crossbows, gunpowder and rhubarb.

Who traversed these trails through deserts, mountains, steppes and seas? Not just merchants but monks, scholars, clerics, artists, armies, musicians, plunderers and nomads. Unlike what we imagine, people rarely travelled the entire journey. Instead, goods and ideas would change hands and minds, multiple times along the way, before reaching their final …

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  • Welcome to Arastan

    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

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