An image of Itinerant acrobats

Company school

(India late 18th century – late 19th century)

Itinerant acrobats

Other titles:
The buffet game, Mock fight
Not on display
Further information

The acrobats are typical of those numerous sets of depictions of castes and occupations so much favoured by European patrons of Indian painters in the early nineteenth century. In this striking image all attention is focused on the woman balancing on top of the pole. Below her, providing a drum roll to intensify the drama of the act is a drummer playing a double-headed drum that's v-shaped lacing is clearly visible. Both women wear the long saris typical of the Maharashtran region of western India; the saris are long enough for women to be able to wind them between their legs, so achieving a pantaloon effect. The style enables the ease of movement necessary in acrobatic routines as illustrated here but also allowed Maratha women to ride astride on horses and fight in various military campaigns in the eighteenth century.

Jim Masselos, 'Dancing to the flute - Music and dance in Indian art', AGNSW, 1997. pg. 248.

Place of origin
Thanjavur (Tanjore), Tamil Nadu, India
Cultural origin
Company school; probably by a Muslim artist working in Thanjavur
circa 1800
Painting, Watercolour
opaque watercolour with gold and silver on paper
22.8 x 18.1 cm image; 28.4 x 23.1 cm sheet
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Gift of Mr George Sandwith 1957
Accession number