Online Collection

Collections



Asian Art Museum Logo
Guru Nanak meets Firanda the rabab maker, from a manuscript of the Janam Sakhi (Life Stories)
Place of Origin: North India or Pakistan
Date: 1800-1900
Object Name: Manuscript page
Materials: Opaque watercolors on paper
Dimensions: H. 8 in x W. 6 1/2 in, H. 20.3 cm x W. 16.5 cm
Credit Line: Gift of the Kapany Collection
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Books And Manuscripts
Object Number: 1998.58.13
On Display: Yes
Location: Gallery 6
Culture: Sikh

Description

Label: Religious poetry put to music (kirtan), an important element of Sikh worship, is a practice that follows Guru Nanak’s own example. Bhai Mardana, one of Nanak’s two closest companions, was a player of the rabab, a type of stringed instrument. His search for the best instrument is told in at least two versions of the Janam Sakhi.

According to one, after fruitless searching for an appropriate rabab, Nanak sends Mardana to the house of Firanda, a carpenter by trade and also an accomplished musician. Mardana finds a fine rabab to replace his own worn-out instrument. When Firanda learns whom it is for, he asks to be paid not with money but with the opportunity to meet the guru. In another variation, Firanda presents an extraordinary rabab that produces a melody in praise of the divine.

The painting shows Nanak, identifiable by his halo, speaking with Firanda and Mardana, but it is unclear which story version is depicted here. The rabab, the key object in this sakhi, occupies a central place in the image.
Label: Religious poetry put to music (kirtan), an important element of Sikh worship, is a practice that follows Guru Nanak’s own example. Bhai Mardana, one of Nanak’s two closest companions, was a player of the rabab, a type of stringed instrument. His search for the best instrument is told in at least two versions of the Janam Sakhi.

According to one, after fruitless searching for an appropriate rabab, Nanak sends Mardana to the house of Firanda, a carpenter by trade and also an accomplished musician. Mardana finds a fine rabab to replace his own worn-out instrument. When Firanda learns whom it is for, he asks to be paid not with money but with the opportunity to meet the guru. In another variation, Firanda presents an extraordinary rabab that produces a melody in praise of the divine.

The painting shows Nanak, identifiable by his halo, speaking with Firanda and Mardana, but it is unclear which story version is depicted here. The rabab, the key object in this sakhi, occupies a central place in the image.