The Issanama commission lies at the intersection of art and history, and offers lush evidence of the plurality and syncretism inherent in Indian culture. It’s an artistic collaboration between the founder of Sarmaya, Paul Abraham and traditional miniaturist and third-generation artist, Manish Soni of Bhilwara, Rajasthan. As such, the Issanama offers a fresh model of art patronage for the contemporary era, one in which the patron enters into an intellectual dialogue with the artist.
The commission illustrates episodes from the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ in the exquisite landscape of the Hamzanama, the earliest expression of the Indian subcontinent’s celebrated Indo-Islamic art tradition.
The painting illustrates Jesus’s first miracle when he turned water into wine at a wedding ceremony in a town called Cana of Galilee. In the background, you can see wedding guests seated on a raised platform while musicians crowd on either side, playing various instruments. The aesthetics of this particular work are inspired the Hamzanama painting which depicts Feridun Shah’s conversion to Islam and the wedding of Hamza.