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Home >> Indian Painting Styles >> Bani Thani Paintings

Bani Thani Paintings

Bani Thani paintings characterize the Kishangarh school of paintings. It is believed that Bani Thani was a housemaid or slave girl of Raja Sawant Singh’s (1748-1764) stepmother Bankawatji. She remained in close proximity of Bankawatji and got the opportunity to study literature. She had a natural flair for poetry and composed beautiful songs on Krishna.

Though Bankawatji and Raja Sawant Singh did not have cordial relations, love blossomed between him and Bani Thani. She was an enchanting beauty, tall, slim, with queenly smile and red lips. There is a painting, which describes Sawant Singh sitting in the premises of the temple and a beautiful maiden in a yellow sari walks steadily in a soft, shy manner holding the sari, in the right hand and making a veil. She carries a garland of white flowers in her left hand to be put on the deity and all attention of Sawant Singh is on this elegant girl. And the girl is none other than Bani Thani.

Besides being an ardent devotee of Krishna, Savant Singh was an accomplished poet and painter. He under the name of Nagari Das composed many poems in praise of Bani Thani. Also, there are several paintings depicting the amorous episode of Krishna and Radha carrying the name of Nagari Das at back. He instructed his chief court painter Nihal Chand to paint Radha, the consort of Krishna drawing inspiration from Bani Thani.

The Radha of Kishangarh was the epitome of graceful Indian woman. She had an elongated face with a high forehead, arched eyebrows, half open lotus eyes, sharp pointed nose, thin curved sensuous lips and a pointed chin over a long narrow neck. The curl of the hair around the ear added to the feminine grace.

The sharp features used to portray Radha were used to describe other characters too, including the male faces in the Kishangarh.

As Sawant Singh had completely given himself to Bani Thani, she also completely entrusted herself to him. Sawant Singh went to Mt. Govardhan along with Bani Thani where Krishna had lifted the Mt. Govardhan on his index finger to safeguard the people of Brij from the wrath of Indra. He and Bani Thani sang devotional songs and later came to Mathura the birthplace of Krishna. Bani Thani came to be known as Rasik Bihari and composed the hymns for the priest Hari Das.

She died a year after her lord Nagari Das.

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