Images of Banaras from Mewar: new explorations
Joerg Gengnagel (University of Heidelberg)
Paper short abstract:
The paper presents some reflections about an early 18th century pictorial map from Mewar. The Tīrthayātrāpaṭṭa depicts the city of Varanasi in a unique way and has previously received little scholarly attention.
Paper long abstract:
This paper deals with preliminary explorations of the pictorial map Tīrthayātrāpaṭṭa which is displayed at the National Museum in Delhi (acc. no. 56 59/28). The map is most likely one of the earliest examples of pictorial depiction of the city of Varanasi, being dated around 1700; it is said to come from the Mewar region of Rajasthan.
Many of its features are completely different from other visual material and picture-maps of the city analysed to date. The city represented here seems to be highly idealized and, apart from the many shrines which belong to the city's known geography, other recognizable architectures appear to be absent. Strikingly as well, the river Yamunā, which is otherwise linked to other sacred centres of North India, appears in the map as well as the river Gaṅgā, thus conveying the idea that a unique mixture of traits and qualities is attached to this specific tīrtha.
The Tīrthayātrāpaṭṭa will be compared to other presumably almost coeval examples of Rajasthani pictorial depiction of Varanasi, in order to highlight possible common patterns as well as diversities and specificities. We will suggest that further comparisons of these works could profitably be made with manuscript illustrations; indeed, the depiction of sacred places developed as an important subject of representation in manuscripts of Mewar from around the second half of the 17th century.
Spatial and visual dimensions of pilgrimage in South Asia