Raghupathi Bhat: The man who played the right cards

Raghupathi Bhat: The man who played the right cards

Submitted by alvin on Mon, 2016-10-03 17:49 Raghupati Bhatta's paintpotsMysuru: If the card game Ganjifa and the art surrounding the creation of the cards is still alive, the credit goes to Ganjifa Raghupathi Bhat, who single-handedly has kept the tradition alive through his tireless work.In ancient India, card game was known as ‘Kreeda Patra’. Later, the game became popular with the Mughals as well. It was during this time that the game, due to Arabic and Persian influences, began to be called Ganjifa Ganj, meaning money or treasure.Raghupathi-vishwarupaRaghupathi-ravanasamhara Ganjifa had several variants, and Mysuru developed its own.Ganjifa art in Mysuru saw its zenith during the rule of Krishnaraja Wadiyar (1794-1868), who in his magisterial book ‘Sri Tatwanidhi’ describes the cards he invested and designed in great detail. This art form declined with the advent of the European cards. That was until Raghupathi Bhat came across them during a chance occurrence, leading to a lifelong obsession with the cards.Raghupathi-Kurukshetra battlefieldRaghupathi-anantarupa Born in Udupi, Raghupathi Bhat’s adolescence was spent amidst the sculptures and paintings in temples of Nagamangala. Struck by the miniatures from the ‘Chhad’ cards painted in the days of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, Bhat developed his own unique miniature style.Beginning with painting individual figures, Bhat now paints massive scenes on a tiny card measuring one inch by two inches. In his art, he uses colours made from flowers, leaves, roots, and minerals which are holy, and utilises a natural lacquer coating (vajralepana) which preserves the paintings for many years.He has illustrated, in miniature, the Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Dhammapada, Durgasapthashathi, Basavanna’s Vachanas and Upanishads and done a series on yoga and Ayurveda. His paintings have also been exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.