Raghuraj Singh hunting tigers Datia,

Unknown1800 AD - 1855 AD

National Museum - New Delhi

National Museum - New Delhi
New Delhi , India

The cultural tradition of the Rajput courts underwent a complete change after several kings’ established cordial relations and alliances with Akbar (1556-1605) the Mughal emperor, who had virtually laid down the foundation of the Mughal Empire in India. Like the Mughal emperors and nobles, the Rajput’s too were very fond of hunting.

The rulers of Bikaner were amongst the first to commission paintings of hunts in the second half of the 17th century. The hunting paintings from Kotah and Bundi are considered superb in rendering and reveal great stylistic innovations of colour, space and composition. The paintings based on this sport were in great demand in 18th century and painted in large numbers. The basic composition in these paintings is rows of mountain-ravages, trees and foliage all conveying the sense of the jungle mystique.

The tragic love story of Laila – Majnun has been immortalized by the twelfth century Persian poet Nizami. This theme was painted with similar thrust by the Persian and the Indian artists of almost all schools of Indian miniature paintings – Mughal, Rajasthan, Pahari and Deccan.

Once upon a time, the crown prince of Yemen, Qais met the beautiful Laila, the only child of the chief of Basra. They fell in love with each other at first sight. They meet in secret near a beautiful pond in a forest every evening. But their happiness was short-lived because one evening a neighboring King Ibn, who was also in love with Laila found out about their trysts and duly reported the matter to her father. So angry was the chief of Basra that without giving Laila a chance to explain he sent her on exile to a distant land. Meanwhile Qais waited in vain for his beloved who in turn helplessly pined for him.

So agonizing was the wait that Qais became mad and was renamed as Majnun- the crazy. When his father heard of the fate of his son, he decided to go Basra and meet Laila’s father pleading for her hand in marriage to his son. But the arrogant chief of Basra humiliated him and waged a fierce battle with the king of Yemen in which they were both killed. This paved the way for the wily king Ibn to marry Laila who continued to pine in the memory of her first lost love Qais, now known as Majnun. Ibn died of a broken heart as his love was totally unrequited.

Meanwhile a hapless Majnun used to pass his days and nights wandering madly through the wilderness yearning for Laila. Having lost his love and consequently his interest in life or rather his will to live Majnun is said to have retired to the forest intending, perhaps, to end his life by throwing himself before the wild animals. The wild animals instead showed compassion and proved that man could betray and torture someone in distress but animals never betrayed a loving heart. When Laila heard of Majnun’s sad plight, she went to meet Majnun accompanied by her companions and a maullana. After seeing the condition of her emaciated lover she was not able to control her agony and fainted too. Laila’s companions rushed to her while the maullana began sprinkling water on Majnun and trying to revive him to his senses.

The late Mughal artist painted this tragic subject with minute details. The landscape with finely drawn hills, a river with cranes and dragon like alligators are powerfully rendered. The dragons, alligators, tigers and various kinds of birds are seen witnessing the tragic condition of this unique romance.


  • Title: Raghuraj Singh hunting tigers Datia,
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1800 AD - 1855 AD
  • Location: Central India, Central India
  • Physical Dimensions: w590 x h610 cm (without cover)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: National Museum, Janpath, New Delhi
  • Style: Indian Paintings & Art
  • Place Part Of: Central India

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