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Abhisarika Nayika, Rasamanjari , Basohli Painting, Pahari Style

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Ashta Nayika (eight - heroines)

The Ashta-Nayika classification (nayika-bheda) appears for the first time in Bharata's Natya Shastra (24.210-11), a fundamental Sanskrit treatise on Indian performing arts (dated between 2nd century BC and 2nd century AD).

Abhisarika nayika, Rasamanjari , Basohli painting, Pahari style, 17th century

Abhisarika nayika, Rasamanjari , Basohli painting, Pahari style, 17th century

Radha takes on the roles of various nayikas in Indian literature, such as in Jayadeva's Gita Govinda (12th century) and the Vaishnava poet Banamali's compositions, though her nayaka is the god Krishna.

In the Natya Shastra nayikas are described in the following order: Vasakasajja, Virahotkanthita, Svadhinabhartruka, Kalahantarita, Khandita, Vipralabdha, Proshitabhartruka and Abhisarika.


Abhisarika ("one who moves") is a heroine who rejects her modesty and leaves her home to meet her lover in secret. She is illustrated at her front door and on her way to the tryst, defying all sorts of challenges such as the wind, snakes, and forest hazards. Abhisarika is often depicted in art as running to her destination.

Abhisarika Nayika. Basohli style, perhaps at Mankot, ca. 1700, Collection Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, Hyderabad

Abhisarika Nayika. Basohli style, perhaps at Mankot, ca. 1700, Collection Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, Hyderabad


Paintings from Regions of North India such as Basohli, Mankot, Nurpur, Chamba, Kangra, Guler, Mandi, and Garhwal are included in the broad term Pahari painting. Here we are focused more on the Basohli style of the Pahari paintings.

PAHARI PAINTING is an Indian painting style that translates to "paintings from the mountains." In Hindi, the word pahari means "from the mountains." These paintings are often done in miniature form and originated in Himalayan regions.

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Basohli is the oldest known miniature painting in the Himalayas. It is named after the town of Basohli (Basoli), formerly Vishwasthali, which is situated in the Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, India, in the foothills of the Shivalik mountains.

Basohli painting is a style of Pahari miniature painting that originated in the Indian hill states during the late 17th and early 18th centuries and is known for its vibrant color and background. Though the school is named after the small independent state of Basohli, which is the style's main focus, examples can be found all over the country.

Basohli is the first and most dramatic example of work from the hill states. Kirpal Pal, an enlightened prince, ruled the state from 1678 to 1695. Basohli established a distinct and magnificent style under his guidance.

Color Palette

It is distinguished by the extensive use of primary colors and warm yellows in the background and horizon, as well as the stylized treatment of flora and elevated white paint to mimic the depiction of pearls in ornaments. Use of bright colors for the architectural elements, and characters which are in contrast with the dark blue background for the night and stormy environment of the theme. Red is used in bordered for passionate themes such as this one.


Element of Basohi Style

The artist's style is vivacious, bold, and inventive which includes the oblong shapes, use of Geometrical patterns in architecture, distinctive red borders and bold lines.
Painting in an unconventional manner, such as the wide bulging eyes dominate this unusual facial design. Basohli faces have a receding forehead, a high nose, and eyes that resemble lotuses.

Basohli is known for using dark, iridescent beetle wing fragments in their jewelry. There is a bright colored border, usually in bright red.


The use of minute, shiny green beetle wing particles to delineate jewelry and simulate the effect of emeralds is, however, the most distinctive feature of Basohli painting. They share the aesthetics of the Chaurpanchashika group of paintings from Western India, with their vivid palette and elegance.

Another distinctive feature is the division of space of sky and horizon. The sky is often painted as a thin stripe, and the clouds and lighting are painted differently than in other Pahari types.


The abhisarika nayika is the most famous and frequently illustrated of the eight nayika (heroine) love stories. As a storm rages overhead, a woman bravely makes her way through a forest teeming with snakes and demons to find her lover. The hurricane and the perilous terrain foreshadow the difficulties and passion of her upcoming encounter. A Nayika, one of a wide group of heroines who encapsulate different facets of the ardors of love, exemplifies the Indian preference for characterizing knowledge.

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