Kashmiri paintings are to be found in impressively large numbers in public and private collections, and yet remarkably little has been written on them. As the author says in her introduction to the present work: "A little like the thousand-petalled lotus of Indian myth, the art of Kashmir, especially its manuscript painting, has been more believed in that explored. The extent to which its roots extend, the sources from which it drew its nourishment, the direction of its growth across time, its texture, even the full, colourful range of its expanse, are but poorly known."
In this exciting, richly illustrated work, then, Dr. Goswamy sets out not only to fill a serious gap in our information on painting by examining a wide range of manuscripts and folios lying in collections all over the world: she also analyses them with great care, sensitizing the reader to their many qualities.
But this is also a timely study, a reminder, in these strife-torn days of Kashmir, of a better, more harmonious past. For in the painting of Kashmir, there is a unique fusion: so many artistic and historical strands come together, from the Buddhist wall-paintings of Alchi to the Islamic manuscripts of Iran on the one hand and the 'Hindu' work of the Pahari states on the other. Here, the work of the Kashmiri painters is viewed consistently against the background of the society which threw it up, and the issues related to assimilation and diffusion, production and patronage.