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Raja Balwant Singh

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Jammu (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Nainsukh (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the friends of Dr W.G. Archer through the Associates of the V&A.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

A ruler sits at worship before a portable shrine to the god Vishnu. He wears only a plain withe dhoti, and his head is shaved except for a small tuft (shikha) that signals his devout nature. This wonderfully intimate image is typical of the work of the painter Nainsukh, who enjoyed a close creative dialogue with his patron, Raja Balwant Singh. Here he provides a rare glimpse of the daily ritual of the ruler.

The artist Nainsukh hailed from a family of court artists, and he most likely trained under his father, Pandit Seu. His brother Manaku was also an artist, working in Guler, while Nainsukh's two sons, Ranjha and Nikka worked for Raja Raj Singh of Chamba for twenty years, continuing the family tradition. This Seu family style can be traced to several of the hill states and as it travelled, it incorporated learned stylistic traits along the way. These influences were garnered from previous compositions, other itinerant artists, and influence from the various patrons as well. The painter Nainsukh moved from the larger court of Guler where he may or may not have trained, to the lesser court of Jasrota, where he found his main patron: Balwant Singh. Nainsukh worked for Balwant Sing for twenty years until his patron's death, mainly based in Jasrota, a small state affiliated to the larger state of Jammu in the Pahari hills.

Physical description

Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, the Raja Balwant Singh doing a puja at a Vishnu shrine, attended by servants. He is bare chested and wears a white dhoti, and sits in a chamber before a shrine in which a salagrama, a shrine sacred to Vishnu, is covered by a cloth decorated with garlands and a peacock-crown, conch, discus, mace and lotus. Two servants holding murchhals attend the Raja, while a third, squatting in front of a wall outside, prepares a brazier for use in the puja.

Place of Origin

Jammu (made)


ca. 1750 (made)


Nainsukh (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'sri maharaja sri balwant singhji saligrameji di puja karade'
'Maharaja Balwant Singh worshipping the salagrama'
inscribed on border


Height: 18.5 cm, Width: 26 cm

Object history note

Purchased by subscription in memory of Dr. W.G. Archer.

Jackson, Anna and Jaffer, Amin (eds), with Deepika Ahlawat. Maharaja : the splendour of India's royal courts. London, V&A Publishing, 2009. ISBN.9781851775736 (hbk.), ISBN.1851775730 (hbk.).

Descriptive line

Painting, Raja Balwant Singh at worship, by Nainsukh, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Jammu, ca. 1750

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Topsfield, Andrew, cat. no. 163, p. 65
The Indian Heritage. Court life and Arts under Mughal Rule London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982 Number: ISBN 0 906969 26 3
pps. 110-111
Jackson, Anna and Ji Wei (eds.) with Rosemary Crill, Ainsley M. Cameron and Nicholas Barnard, compiled by the Palace Museum, translated by Yuan Hong, Qi Yue and Liu Ran. The Splendour of India' Royal Courts : Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Beijing: the Forbidden City Publishing House, 2013. Text in English and Chinese. ISBN 9787513403917.
W. G. Archer, Indian Paintings in the Punjab Hills, London, 1973, "Jammu"
pp. 175-212.


Opaque watercolour; Gold; Paper; Paint


Painting; Painted

Subjects depicted

Ruler; Worship; Shrine; Servants


Paintings; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project; Religion; Hinduism


South & South East Asia Collection

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