Portrait of Kirat Prakash of Sirmur

The inscriptions on the back, in both Takri and Devanagari scripts, declare this to be a portrait of Raja Kirat Prakash of Sirmur, which by Pahari standards was a large state. With its capital at Nahan, it played an active role in 18th-century regional politics. Kirat Prakash ruled from 1754 to 1770 and was an able and valiant ruler. Although he fought in several wars, he was also responsible for ending the bloody generation-old feud with the state of Bashahr. This portrait, however, was not painted locally, as is clear from the inscriptions. Firstly, as pointed out by Ohri, Takri script was not prevalent in Sirmur. Secondly, if done locally, the ruler’s state is not likely to be mentioned. Thirdly, the style of the picture definitely shows the hand of an artist trained in Kangra workshop. It may be emphasized that Sirmur had an amicable relationship with Kangra until 1789, when hostilities began. Kirat Prakash’s second son, Dharam Prakash, had a wife who was a sister of Samsar Chand of Kangra. Dharam Prakash did succeed to the throne in 1789 but was killed by his brother-in-law in 1793.

Pigments and gold on paper


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Walters Art Museum

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