Dhrab Dev of Jasrota

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Jammu and Kashmir, India, Asia
Probably made in Mankot, Jammu and Kashmir, India, Asia

c. 1700-1710

Opaque watercolor, gold, and silver-colored paint on paper

Image: 7 1/2 × 10 1/8 inches (19.1 × 25.7 cm) Sheet: 8 7/8 × 12 5/16 inches (22.5 × 31.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Alvin O. Bellak Collection, 2004

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Dhrab Dev, always shown with a full beard and aquiline features, ruled Jasrota, near Mankot, from about 1710 to 1730. He sits in the typical huqqa-smoking pose of a royal portrait, his servant holding a peacock feather fly whisk over his head. At the right, a visiting courtier humbly touches his forehead in greeting. The white egret feather in his turban indicates that he is a groom. He is only partially inside the picture frame, suggesting he has just stepped into the royal presence as if to announce that his master's horse is ready for mounting.

Additional information:
  • PublicationIntimate Worlds: Indian Paintings from the Alvin O. Bellak Collection

    A black-bearded prince sits smoking his huqqa, attended by a young retainer holding a peacock-feather fan. The ruler is being approached by a visitor of minor rank who grasps a sword in one hand and bears a thrusting dagger tucked in his belt. He humbly touches his forehead in greeting. In his turban is stuck an egret feather, indicating that he is the prince’s groom, perhaps arriving to announce the readiness of his horse. The composition is somewhat unusual for a Pahari painting of this period, because the artist has chosen to keep all the figures strictly within the red borders, allowing only the fan to project into the margin. Thus only the front third of the groom can be seen, as if he were just entering the royal presence.

    In an often-repeated formula for Pahari court portraits, the lower portion of the painting is entirely covered by a vertically striped rug, here in the distinctive blend of lavender-pink and mauve popular in Mankot. Overlaying this is a smaller rug with floral border on which the prince himself rests against a bolster, his leg crossed in front to display his striped pajamas. The upper section of the painting is a ground of solid yellow topped by a thin line of sky (see Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2004-149-24).

    On the reverse the sitter is identified as “Jasrotie Mian Dhrab Dev,” or “Prince Dhrab Dev of Jasrota.”1 Dhrab Dev ruled Jasrota, which lies only some eleven miles from Mankot, from about 1710 to about 1730. If the inscription is contemporaneous with the painting, its use of the word mian (prince) to identify the subject would date the work before his accession. However, since the painting certainly portrays a man in his prime, and since W. G. Archer speculates that Dhrab Dev was born about 1680,2 it would be unlikely that the image would date long before 1710, while he still held the title of prince. It is more likely that the inscription, which is casually phrased, is a later inventory labeling and cannot be used to date the work itself. There are at least four other inscribed portraits of Dhrab Dev.3 All resemble this image in basic ways—especially the high, beaked nose and prominent chin. In all he appears older, however, and none corresponds to this work in style. Darielle Mason, from Intimate Worlds: Indian Painting from the Alvin O. Bellak Collection (2001), pp. 104-105.

    1. There is also a seal of Abdur Rahman Chughtai (1894–1975), the Lahore painter, indicating that this painting was once in his collection.
    2. W. G. Archer. Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills: A Survey and History of Pahari Miniature Painting. 2 vols. London: Sotheby Parke Bernet; Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1973, vol. 1, p. 214. Unless specific inscriptions are mentioned, Archer derived his dating of rulers from Hutchison and Vogel 1933.
    3. Three of them are also inscribed with the title “Mian” rather than “Raja.” Since these paintings clearly show Dhrab Dev at a much older age, Archer (Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills: A Survey and History of Pahari Miniature Painting. London: Sotheby Parke Bernet; Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1973., vol. 1, p. 214) takes this to indicate that he abdicated. The four portraits are in the following collections: British Museum, London (ibid., vol. 2, p. 133, Jammu no. 3); Victoria and Albert Museum, London, I.S. 188-1951 (ibid., p. 141, Jammu no. 35); National Museum, New Delhi (ibid., p. 294, Mankot no. 32); and Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh (ibid., p. 163, Jasrota no. 1).