Opaque pigment on paper
Inscribed on the reverse in Devanagari ‘Atha khandita lakshanam. Avan kahi ave nahi, ave pritam prat. jake ghar so khandita kahe ju bahu bidhi bat. 1. Ankhani jo sujhat na kanani to suniyat, kesodas jaise tum lokani mein gaye ho. Bansa ki bisari sudhikak jyon chunat firo, juthe sithe sath itha ditha thaye ho. Duri duri karathu dori dori gaho payi jano na kuthoru thoru jani jiya paye ho. Kako ghar ghalibe ko base kahan ghansyam ghughu jyon ghusan prat mere griha aye ho.’
‘You say that I am not able to see the reality of the world but I hear people slandering me. You have given up all shame and like a crow you have become a hardened scavenger eating left over food. I push you away, but yet you return and touch my feet. I am convinced that you have no self-respect. Where did you spend the night and whose honour did you steal? Now that it is dawn you have come into my home.’
Keshavadasa in his poetic treatise of Rasikapriya has classified heroines into eight categories according to their age, mood and station in love. The Khandita Nayika, or the one enraged with her lover, has been described by Keshavadasa as an enraged heroine whose partner promised to spend the night with her but instead visits her the next morning after having spent the night in another woman’s company. Her depiction is of an offended and upset woman, who stops her husband at the door and rebukes him for his infidelity. Her husband, on the other hand, having spent a night of romantic passion elsewhere is often depicted with a loose turban, or bearing scratch marks, and redness in the eyes due to sleeplessness.
Here the scene is set at the time of dawn, as suggested by the sunrise. The Nayaka after having spent the night with another woman is being questioned by the Nayika about his absence. Her posture and gesture indicate that she is infuriated and dismayed. She puts one hand on her waist in a questioning manner and with the other holds a mirror to the Nayaka, pointing out his tired and sleepless appearance. Khandita, who is wronged, in her anger rebukes the Nayaka by comparing him to a crow who scavenges on leftover food – the other women. The painting appears to have been made by a Kangra artist active in the workshop of Purkhu.