ON SATURDAY, MAY 8, 2010, MY GREAT AND GOOD FRIEND, DERRICK, at Melrose Musings, threw down a challenge for me to help him solve both the provenance and the intrinsic meaning of the beautiful painting he had posted on Saturday Spotlight. I advise you to head for his exemplary blog immediately, so that you can feel the full force of this endeavor.
A description of the painting must include the subject matter. Intensive research on my part reveals the Maharajah of Jodhpur, head of the Rajput Clan of Uttar Pradesh, sitting on his throne. Next to him sits his pet miniature lion, Udai Singh. Known affectionately as Singh.
His twin nephews, Rao Bika and Rao Kumpa have been called to account for the fact that they, the promoters of lion miniaturization, have not been able to include a reproductive system for the lion. And also to explain why the kneeling Kumpa has grey hair, and the upright Bika has black hair. The simple answer is that Kumpa is the scholar and Bika is the entertainer, and must preserve the illusion of youth.
Kumpa is quite distressed at Singh's failure to reproduce, since the Maharani of Kashmir has a standing order for one of his offspring, which at this point, comes down to zero. Explanations will be in order there too. My research shows that there's a painting of the Maharani, circa 1544, in tears. Perhaps my great good friend, Derrick, can get his hands on that treasure too.
The Maharajah of Jadhpur had hoped to bring the art and science of miniaturization to his kingdom, a touch of whimsy, and glory to his court. Just as the Japanese have shrunken trees to become the ever popular Bonsai, and the ancient Chinese had great success shrinking, or stunting the growth of feet. Tiny pets were an obsession of the Maharajah.
Unfortunately little Singh was the end of the line for tiny lions. But he proved to be a loving and faithful pet for the Maharajah, hardly ever leaving his side.
Little Singh met an untimely end one day when the Maharani of Kashmir came to visit. She asked to walk him outside the palace along a golden brick road, and legend has it, they both disappeared!
I hope I've met the challenge to fulfill and extend our mutual knowledge and titillation! Bring 'em on!!