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Unknown Artist : “The Heroine Who Waits Anxiously for Her Absent Lover (Utka Nayaka)” (c. 1750-1755)

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The Sanskrit term nayika is typically translated as heroine, but more precisely a nayika is an idealized woman associated with various aspects of love, embodying a wide range of emotional and psychological states. Numerous literary works composed in India since at least the first century describe and categorize different types of nayikas.

This utka nayika stands in glowing orange and gold in the night, waiting for her lover to arrive. Her demeanor is quiet and resolved. Her gesture indicates wonder, possibly that the clouds may be passing, and the moon may emerge to brighten the scene. She may also be astonished at her own perseverance and how she no longer feels the fear and agitation of the darkness and the solitude.

Credit Line: Text courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art.

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