This is a delightful interpretation of the popular story of a gutsy dweller of the hills, Hirkani (literally, diamond shredding). Leaving her infant child alone at her hut, Hirkani had walked up the steep slopes of the fortified fort Raigad atop the mountain to deliver pitcherfuls of milk. At sundown the gates of the fort were all closed. Hirkani was stranded inside. Hirkani jumped down a little used awesome parapet of the fort and found her way down the impossibly steep slopes of the mountain. She negotiated through impenetrably dense jungles to finally reach her hut halfway down the mountain below on the slopes. The intense force of a mother’s love for her baby had induced Hirkani to act courageously against all odds. Hirkani´s feat has become a legend all over Maharashtra. It is well-known that Shivaji Maharaj was immensely impressed with the gutsy courage of this simple dweller of the hills. More than that he was thankful to her for exposing a vulnerable weak point in the parapet of the fort. The parapet was duly fortified and the spot was declared to be recognised as ‘Hirkani Buruj’ in recognition and admiration of her valueable service.
Mumbiram’s rendering of “Hirkani Reunited with her Baby” is a masterpiece of emotions and atmosphere. The full moon is rising over the horizon. It is over an hour after sunset. There is not a trace of pink in the sky. The lingering twilight and the full moon’s defused gentle light are combining to illuminate the ambiance without any harsh shadows. Hirkani’s baby is safely nestled in the protective arms of the mother. We can certainly see tears of joy swelling in the eyes of the ecstatic mother. She looks stunned. The child is blissfully unaware of the ordeal that its mother has just gone through for its sake. Hirkani looks beautiful without a single ornament on her body. She glows steadily. Where is the child’s father ? Hirkani is not wearing the red kumkum spot on her forehead though you see a dark faded tattoo in its place such as married women invariably have in rural Maharashtra. The child is wearing anklets and necklace made of simple black and white beads, most likely the loving mother´s own handiwork.
Through the open door of Hirkani’s hut you see two red flames of the brass samai oil lamp. Hirkani must have gone down on her knees in front of the little altar in the corner when she safely reached home. She is wearing a yellow turmeric mark between her brows. That is the mark of her total trust in the protection of the Universal Mother.
She must have kicked her chappal shoes off in her hurry. The child’s wooden toy horse is securely tied to the bamboo ladder, which remain ed near Hirkani’s home.
Hirkani is living with her child atop a little hill in the vales. There is no sign of any neighbours. The soil is red ochre. The handsome petite brown cow and her calf are perfect company for them. There are no fences. They are safe. They are in the domain of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Hirkani has brought back an empty dark clay pitcher and a smaller copper measuring vessel sitting on top of it. Her little cloth purse of pink and green has gold brocade borders.
Mumbiram´s art is about situations, personalities and emotions. It is Rasa Art. This masterpiece in muted faded colours shows great aesthetic virtuosity combined with serene simplicity of faith.
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