Neesha Khan_Indian Sikh Martial Arts Horsemanship_Oil_19.5”x47”_2022_© Neesha Khan
Ever since humans have been interacting with horses, since 10,200 B.C they were used for domestic work, agriculture work, warfare, sport, travelers and breeding. One aspect of horses that we tend to forget or not know about is the involvement in our culture. There are many countries and cultures that respect horses and see them as a prominent part of their traditional celebrations and life. It is very interesting to see the how cultures globally are celebrating the horse and have them involved as a central part of their traditions, religion and way of life. Some of these I have tried to introduce them in this equine collection.
I have an interest in martial arts and was pleasantly surprised that even horses have been central in a form of martial arts in India. This 10th painting completes the Equine Collection for Arte Globale a project created during the global pandemic period 2020-2022. It shows the involvement of horses in the Indian Sikh culture, although horses are involved in a number of cultures, religions, celebrations and life in India. I am proud to say this is just one part of that, that brings faith in humanity.
This painting shows the indigenous horse to India in a martial tradition belonging to a semi-nomadic community in India, the Nihangs. The Nihangs martial tradition was begun by the Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh around 300 years ago. They have kept their tradition alive and are significant to pioneering their spirit that defines a Sikh. The Nihangs way of life, style of dress and weaponry have remained the same, withstanding the test of time. They are organised into armies and live in camps. Men and women train in horsemanship and Gatka, the Sikh martial art with a life of strict discipline. They get up early, meditate for extended periods of time, care for the horses, practice ‘Shastar vidya’ (centuries old battlefield martial art form with weaponry) followed by routine chores around the camp.
The bright colours in this modern image inspires us to keep a bright life even in times when you feel like you are on the battlefield.