Saira Wasim was trained at the National College of Art in Lahore, Pakistan, the birthplace of the contemporary neo-miniature movement. Miniature painting, which flourished during the Mughal period (1526–1828) in South Asia, declined following the division of India and Pakistan in the late 1940s. This art form has been revived over the last twenty years by artists such as Wasim, who are trained in traditional techniques but apply them to contemporary subject matter.
Buzkashi (which literally means “goat-grabbing”) is an ancient game played in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan in which players vie to control a goat carcass and bring it to the scoring area. In Wasim’s work, Buzkashi becomes a metaphor for Pakistani politics, which has been marked by a continuous struggle for dominance among a long line of military dictatorships. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharaf is depicted enthroned with the four arms of the Hindu deity Shiva, surrounded by celebrating army generals dressed in clown make-up. Two of Musharaf’s political rivals, nuclear scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan and Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the president of the Muslim political party Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, are depicted conspiring beneath the scene.
Gouache and gold on wasli paper
Purchased with the Josephine A. Stein, class of 1927, Fund in honor of the class of 1927
ID Number: SC 2004:25