A Prince of Jaipur Playing Chess
Artist/maker unknown, Indian
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Copying compositions from generation to generation was a common practice in Indian painting workshops. This drawing of a prince playing chess was adapted almost verbatim from an earlier painting done in the royal workshop at Jaipur. Sometimes compositions or individual elements were copied freehand; other times older drawings were pricked and used as stencils. The "original" version of this painting dates to about 1760 and depicts the rotund Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh of Jaipur. This somewhat later rendition shows a thinner regent, possibly Madho Singh's son and heir, Pratap Singh, smoking a huqqa as he reclines on a low couch. One retainer massages the maharaja's foot, another fans him, and a third waives a horsehair flywhisk. Two servants kneel near the chessboard and another holds a piece of paan, a popular digestive made of slightly narcotic betel nut, lime paste, and spices wrapped in a leaf.