The beautiful walled city of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, founded by the twelfth-century ruler Jaisal, was the last of the Rajput kingdoms to enter into an alliance with the Mughals. The Rajput nobles, members of the warrior (kshatriya) caste, had competed fiercely among themselves for territory for centuries. Muslim incursions from the thirteenth century onwards altered this balance of power, and had a lasting influence on Rajput art and culture. The architecture of Jaisalmer is characterised by exquisitely carved balconies, windows and entrances, which clearly show the adoption and adaptation of Mughal aesthetics and decorative techniques.
Although this screen superficially resembles the Mughal openwork screens (jali) used as windows and room dividers, the essentially decorative panel is not pierced and was possibly set within a solid wall. Made from yellow sandstone, the delicate carved panel is divided into a grid of twelve square compartments, arranged around a larger central square. The grid lines are made up of a stylised flower pattern. The four squares in the top register each contain a fluid, swirling tree-like design surmounted by confronting ducks or peacocks, while the lower squares display a variety of intricate geometric designs.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008