Collections: Asian Art: Sohni Swims to Meet her Lover Mahinwal

  • 1st Floor
    Arts of Africa, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden
  • 2nd Floor
    Arts of Asia and the Islamic World
  • 3rd Floor
    Egyptian Art, European Paintings
  • 4th Floor
    Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • 5th Floor
    Luce Center for American Art

Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Hiroshige's 118 woodblock landscape and genre scenes of mid-nineteenth-century Tokyo, is one of the greatest achievements of Japanese art.

    On View: Palette with Two Birds

    Egyptians rubbed palettes like these with small pebbles to grind green or black pigment for eyepaint. These cosmetics accentuated the eyes a...


    Want to add this object to a set? Please join the Posse, or log in.


    77.208.2_IMLS_SL2.jpg 77.208.2_bw_IMLS.jpg

    Sohni Swims to Meet her Lover Mahinwal

    This painting illustrates a well-known Punjabi folk tale about a forbidden love affair that ended in tragedy. The lovely Sohni fell in love with a young man who lived across the river from her family’s land. She could not swim, so she used a pot to float across the deep river to meet him each night. When Sohni’s disapproving family discovered the affair, her sister-in-law replaced the pot with one made of unbaked clay. It disintegrated, and Sohni drowned.

    This painting shows Sohni during one of her successful crossings, with her lover, Mahinwal, waiting for her on the other side and sleeping figures in the foreground. The gloom of night has been created with a dark palette and thin layers of gray paint. Sohni and Mahinwal, however, appear to glow against the dark setting, an effect that highlights their passion and heroism.

    • Culture: Indian
    • Medium: Opaque watercolor on paper
    • Dates: ca. 1775-1780
    • Dynasty: Mughal
    • Dimensions: sheet: 10 5/8 x 15 1/8 in. (27.0 x 38.4 cm) image: 9 11/16 x 13 7/8 in. (24.6 x 35.3 cm)  (show scale)
    • Collections:Asian Art
    • Museum Location: This item is not on view
    • Accession Number: 77.208.2
    • Credit Line: Gift of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner
    • Rights Statement: No known copyright restrictions
    • Caption: Indian. Sohni Swims to Meet her Lover Mahinwal, ca. 1775-1780. Opaque watercolor on paper, sheet: 10 5/8 x 15 1/8 in. (27.0 x 38.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner, 77.208.2
    • Image: overall, 77.208.2_IMLS_SL2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    • Record Completeness: Good (65%)
    advanced 110,573 records currently online.

    Separate each tag with a space: painting portrait.

    Or join words together in one tag by using double quotes: "Brooklyn Museum."

    Recent Comments
    02:32 04/20/2011
    Sohni’s heart pines
    for Mahinwal
    for she loves
    him beyond all things earthly
    By day she paints flowers
    on the pots her father makes
    O Sohni’s heart is always filled with love
    And by night
    she swims across
    with a pot to help her float
    and she goes each night thus
    to meet her forbidden love

    O Mahinwal’s heart
    that herder of cattle
    his heart too is filled with love
    and he has given up his name
    and his land
    for he is no longer Izzat Baig of Buhkara
    but he is simple Mahinwal –
    Sohni’s Mahinwal
    O so full of love is he
    day and night
    for the beautiful Sohni

    and how will this end?
    O river that nurtures us – tell us…
    O how will this forbidden love end? –
    O fish and cattle and deer
    and creatures of the river bank –
    tell us, how this love will end…

    Please review the comment guidelines before posting.

    Before you comment...

    We get a lot of comments, so before you post yours, check to see if your issue is addressed by one of the questions below. Click on a question to see our answer:

    Why are some objects not on view?

    The Museum’s permanent collections are very large and only a fraction of these can be on exhibition at any given time. Sometimes works are lent to other museums for special exhibitions; sometimes they are in the conservation laboratory for study or maintenance. Certain types of objects, such as watercolors, textiles, and photographs, are sensitive to light and begin to fade if they are exposed for too long, so their exhibition time is limited. Finally, as large as the Museum is, there is not enough room to display everything in the collections. In order to present our best works, collections are rotated periodically.

    How do I find out how much an object in the Brooklyn Museum collections is worth?

    The Museum does not disclose the monetary values of objects in its collections.

    Can you tell me the value of an artwork that I own?

    The Museum does not provide monetary appraisals. To determine the value of an object or to find an appraiser, you may contact the Art Dealers Association of America or the American Society of Appraisers.

    I own a similar object. Can you tell me more about it?

    Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you own and as much information about it as you can, and we will provide any additional information we are able to find. Please note that research in our files is a lengthy process, and you may not have a response for some time.

    How would I go about lending or gifting a work to the Museum or seeing if the Museum is interested in purchasing a work that I own?

    Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you would like us to consider, as well as all of the information you have about it, and your offer will be forwarded to the appropriate curator. The Brooklyn Museum collections are very rich, and we have many works that are not currently on exhibition; because of this, and because storage space is limited, we are very selective about adding works. However, the collection has become what it is today through the generosity of the public, and we continue to be grateful for this generosity, which can still lead to exciting new acquisitions.

    How can I get a reproduction of a work in your collection?

    Please see the Museum’s information on Image Services.

    How can I show my work to someone at the Museum or be considered for an exhibition?

    Please see the Museum’s Artist Submission Guidelines.

    Why do many objects not have photographs and/or complete descriptions?

    The Museum's collection is very large, and we are constantly in the process of adding photographs and descriptions to works that do not currently have them, or replacing photographs that have deteriorated beyond use and descriptions that are minimal or out of date. This is a long and expensive process that takes time.

    How can I find a conservator or get advice on how to treat my artwork?

    Please visit the American Institute for Conservation, which has a feature on how to find a conservator.

    I have a comment or question which is not included in this list.

    Join the posse or log in to work with our collections. Your tags, comments and favorites will display with your attribution.