Intoxicated dervishes

This painting shows a large group of dervishes seated in rows and intoxicated from the effects of narcotics consumption. Some are smoking hookahs (waterpipe), others drinking bhang (marijuana) or asleep. The painting displays a complex composition of caricature and sympathetic figural modelling. Normally paintings of similar topics set a scene with the narcotics being prepared and sold which makes this painting rather unique as it shows only the people consuming and affected by it. The focus on characters and the execution of the Mughal figures in this painting suggests that it may have been painted by an artist who might be working in Avadh. The style is also rather unusual for an Avadh work in the 18th century which suggests that it was probably catered for a Western patron interesting in documenting Indian society.

Mid 18th century
Avadh, North India
Image size: 54.2 x 37 cm
Accession No.
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum

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