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Raja Devichand of Bilaspur, c. 1775

India: Himachal Pradesh, Kangra Workshop, 1750-1800
Opaque watercolor on paper
image: 7-7/8 x 4-7/8 in. (20.0 x 12.4 cm); sheet: 9-3/4 x 6-1/2 in. (24.8 x 16.5 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Ramesh and Urmil Kapoor
© Norton Simon Museum

Not on view

Raja Devichand is shown here seated in profile and smoking from an elaborate huqqa, or water pipe. While this is a formal portrait of the raja, its informal setting and the depiction of his solitary smoking are meant to convey a quiet moment of contemplation. Portraits of elite men smoking huqqa are not unusual, as they became a standard visual trope from the 16th century onward. They demonstrated the high status and refinement of such men.

In this painting, the raja is surrounded by symbols of his status, such as the servant cooling him with a peacock-feather fan and the sword that rests at his side. The huqqa, floral carpet, decorated bolster and pillows, as well as his delicately embroidered robes, convey the raja’s refined tastes and his ability to afford such luxury goods.

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