The Sikh paintings consist mainly of pages from the Janam Sakhi or life of Guru Nanak. These are almost naif, illustrative narrative paintings in a folksy style. Of great charm is a painting of Guru Nanak dancing in a frenzy of spiritual ecstasy. Also interesting are the series of drawings using the technique of the Khakka or perforated stencil to reproduce the image on paper, a technique that’s still used to transfer drawings on to wet plaster in the making of frescoes. An unusual drawing from this set shows Bahadur Shah Zafar and Ranjit Singh suspended side by side in a pair of teardrop frames.
The book also includes a Pahari section, which to my mind is the finest. But the largest section, the Rajasthani, is also the most uneven. The popular prints from the 20th century are a little incongruous and speak more of the collector’s zeal in acquiring works of art, particularly those relating to Sikh history.
I would recommend a tour of the museum with this book in hand.