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A Gift Fit for a King

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Woman Flying a Kite

Imagine you are the woman in this painting. What can you see? Imagine you are the kite in this painting. What can you see?

How might this woman be feeling? How does this painting make you feel?

Instructions:

Hover over the image to enlarge. Explore the details of the artwork to answer the questions above.

A Woman Flying a Kite
c. 1700-1800
opaque watercolour on paper
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
© V&A Images / Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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A Woman Flying a Kite

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screen shot Nazar paintings showed women spending time doing their favourite things. If you were in one of these paintings, what types of activities would you be doing? What would these activities say to your loved ones about you? What symbols would you use to express your feelings?
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This small painting would have been given as a gift to the Maharaja on an occasion like a birthday, anniversary or festival. There was a special ritual for giving this kind of painting: the artist would present the gift wrapped in a cloth from his right hand to the Maharaja, who would take the painting from the artist and offer some payment in appreciation of the gift.

These kinds of paintings are called nazar, which means “gaze”. They were meant to be looked at by the Maharaja during his private time. These paintings often show a woman by herself pursuing a favourite pastime. In the poetry of that time, activities like kite-flying were symbols for the feeling of missing a loved one who was far away. They give us some idea of how the king might have spent his personal time away from court life.

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