Hello Dear Friend,
Today I would like to present the tale of an Indian beauty, which is popularly known as Indian Mona Lisa. This parallel drawn with Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting is embedded in the very fact that an Indian school of painting developed around Bani Thani’s portrait.
Who is Indian Mona Lisa?
During the 18th century in Kishangarh state of Marwar kingdom of Rajputana, a courtesan named Vishnupriya came to be known as Bani Thani(one who is groomed). Bani Thani is popularly known as Indian Monalisa as court painter of Kishangarh Nihal Chand drew her portrait, which marks the beginning of the Kishangarh School of Painting.
What Is The Story of Bani Thani?
Bani Thani was introduced in Kishangarh court by King Sawant Singh’s mother; as a dancer. Sawant Singh was the 7th king of the kingdom. Sawant Singh was an acclaimed poet who wrote under pen name of Nagaridas. Apart from being a poet he had an inclination towards singers. Bani Thani was a beautiful dancer, singer and a proficient poetess. Sawant Singh's encounter with her was the beginning of their romantic story. Her beauty and her talent enamored Sawant Singh; she became Sawant Singh's courtesan. According to some chronicles, Sawant Singh later married her in 1740. It is said that she wrote under the pen name Rasikbihari.
Bani Thani was subject to Nihal Chand's painting. The portrait of her defined the features of Kishangarh school of Art. The eyes of the portrait were the main attraction of the painting, large curvaceous eyes with arched eyebrows became the signature style. It is said that Sawant Singh was captivated by eyes of Bani Thani and had asked Nihal Chand to draw them. Another theory for such eyes was that they were inspired by the eye of Srinathji; a cult of God Krishna.
The Bani Thani painting had features like elongated nose, beautiful lavish jewelry, traditionally dressed, crowned head. This painting was inspired by the sringar rasa nayika.
The Kishangarh Radha
Kishangarh during the rule of Sawant Singh was under the influence of Krishna Bhakti. The Krishna Bhakti also inspired even the paintings of Bani Thani and Sawant Singh. It is due to this that Bani Thani came to be known as the Kishangarh Radha.
The painting of Bani Thani is imitated by local artist and is sold in markets. It is a must-have souvenir from India and Rajasthan.