Artist/maker unknown, Indian. Attributed to Nihal Chand, Indian, 1710 - 1782.
With his fantastic peacock-feather crown, wooden shoes, and bright orange wrap, this holy man is an instantly charming figure. The bell at his ear suggests that he may be an itinerant storyteller or singer. Such storytellers still ply their trade in India, going from village to village, belting out their tales to the rhythm of bells or drums. Such an occupation requires a loud voice, considerable stamina, and a fearless sense of style. The inscription identifies him as Swami Hanuhaak, but his protruding belly, flamboyant clothing, and oversized sword affirm that he is more a figure of entertainment than religious gravity. Clues to eighteenth-century Kishangarh humor are found in the often cryptic inscriptions, as is the case with this painting where even his name translates as a pun, meaning (more or less) “jaw like a collard green leaf” and “armed with a great shout.”