Arani Bahadur Ghoda (portrait of a horse)
by Mewar court artist
dated 1761 CE
Gouache on paper
9.1 x 9.4 in. (23.1 x 23.9 cm.)
Back: “Ghodo Arani Baadar Sodagar se haraath kharido hou 900/-mhi pano ori
jama mha sud 8 samat 1818 varshe”
“Jaso ghodo he jesi surat he abe bilendara me”
This fine specimen of equestrian portrait comes from a series of horse portraits which were painted at Mewar court in early eighteenth century. In this series, each horse is usually attended or ridden by a groom. These portraits bear inscriptions, and in this case, stating the name of the horse ‘Arani Bahadar’ and giving details of the purchase from a sodagar, or merchant in 900/-. It also informs that the image matches the real horse.
Horses have always been an integral part of Rajputana lifestyle and there are a number of stories in the oral traditions of their bravery in battlefield. Like in other kingdoms, Mewar also celebrates Ashwa Pujan, or worship of horses, on the day of Dussera to acknowledge the companionship and bravery of their horses.
Long and sleek figure of the horse and its groom, golden trappings and ornamentation of the horse, extended nose and a thin line along the chin of the groom places this portrait stylistically in the atelier of Maharana Ari Singh of Mewar.