Holi allows liberties as this is the festival of spring when love and sensuality bloom. Even the countryside is bathed with color and fragrance – no wonder when smearing his beloved’s face with gulal the paramour’s hand slips from her cheeks on to her bosom and she does not draw away. The theme is often repeated in Indian music, art and painting.

In this painting the couple allows these liberties knowing that they have the sanction of the gods as it were. Maddened by the colors of Holi and the season’s compulsions, the passionate young prince is touching his beloved and she makes no resistance. Her shyness however is shared by some of her companions who look away, perhaps feeling the same pull of love as their mistress. The artist has symbolized the festival through a try of gulal and the spray-pipe in the hands of one of the attendants and the colour-spots scattered all around. Two women are playing on the flat and round drums while another is probably singing the song of Holi.

The passionate young prince in his customary attire and his semi-clad beloved are powerfully painted. The painting is Deccan in style. It appears that the artist was less interested in depicting Holi and more in painting the passions that bloom with spring. In the background flowers bloom in the garden of a pavilion.


  • Title: Prince playing Holi in harem
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1800 AD
  • Location: Hyderabad, India
  • Physical Dimensions: w185 x h270 mm (without cover)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: National Museum, Janpath, New Delhi
  • Style: Indian Paintings & Art
  • Place Part Of: India

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