1. THE PALA SCHOOL (11th to 12th centuries)
earliest examples of miniature painting in India exist in the form
of illustrations to the religious texts on Buddhism executed under
the Palas of the eastern India and the Jain texts executed in western
India during the 11th-12th centuries A.D. The Pala period (750
A.D. to the middle of the 12th century) witnessed the last great
phase of Buddhism and of the Buddhist art in India. The Buddhist
monasteries (mahaviharas) of Nalanda, Odantapuri,Vikramsila
and Somarupa were great centres of Buddhist learning and art. A
large number of manuscripts on palm-leaf relating to the Buddhist
themes were written and illustrated with the images of Buddhist
deities at these centres which also had workshops for the casting
of bronze images. Students and pilgrims from all over South-East
Asia gathered there for education and religious instruction. They
took back to their countries examples of Pala Buddhist art, in
the form of bronzes and manuscripts which helped to carry the Pala
style to Nepal, Tibet, Burma, Sri Lanka and Java etc. The surviving
examples of the Pala illustrated manuscripts mostly belong to the
Vajrayana School of Buddhism.
The stupa of Sariputta at Nalanda, Bihar
Pala painting is characterised by sinuous line and subdued tones
of colour. It is a naturalistic style which resembles the ideal
forms of contemporary bronze and stone sculpture, and reflects
some feeling of the classical art of Ajanta. A fine example of
the typical Buddhist palm-leaf manuscript illustrated in the Pala
style exists in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, England. It is a
manuscript of the Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita, or the
perfection of Wisdom written in eight thousand lines. It was executed
at the monastery of Nalanda in the fifteenth year of the reign
of the Pala King, Ramapala, in the last quarter of the eleventh
century. The manuscript has illustrations of six pages and also
on the insides of both wooden covers.
Pala art came to a sudden end after the destruction of the Buddhist
monasteries at the hands of Muslim invaders in the first half of
the 13th century. Some of the monks and artists escaped and fled
to Nepal, which helped in reinforcing the existing art traditions
2. THE WESTERN INDIAN SCHOOL (12th
- 16th centuries).
Western Indian style of painting prevailed in the region comprising
Gujarat, Rajasthan and Malwa. The motivating force for the artistic
activity in Western India was Jainism just as it was Buddhism in case
of the Ajanta and the Pala arts. Jainism was patronised by the Kings
of the Chalukya Dynasty who ruled Gujarat and parts of Rajasthan and
Malwa from 961 A.D. to the end of the 13th century. An enormous number
of Jain religious manuscripts were commissioned from 12th to 16th centuries
by the princes, their ministers and the rich Jain merchants for earning
religious merit. Many such manuscripts are available in the Jain libraries (bhandaras) which
are found at many places in Western India.
illustrations on these manuscripts are in a style of vigorous distortion.
One finds in this style an exaggeration of certain physical traits,
eyes, breasts and hips are enlarged. Figures are flat with angularity
of features and the further eye protruding into space. This is an art
of primitive vitality vigorous line and forceful colours. From about
1100 to 1400 A.D., palm-leaf was used for the manuscripts and later
on paper was introduced for the purpose. The Kalpasutra and
the Kalakacharya-Katha, the two very popular Jain texts were
repeatedly written and illustrated with paintings. Some notable examples
are the manuscripts of the Kalpasutra in the Devasano pado
Bhandar at Ahmedabad, the Kalpasutra and Kalakacharya-Katha of
about 1400 A.D. in the Prince of Wales Museum. Bombay and the Kalpasutra dated
1439 A.D. executed in Mandu, now in the National Museum, New Delhi
and the Kalpasutra written and painted in Jaunpur in 1465
Malwa painting, Rajasthan School of painting
3. OTHER ISOLATED STYLES (1500-1550
the 15th century the Persian style of painting started influencing
the Western Indian style of painting as is evident from the Persian
facial types and hunting scenes appearing on the border's of some
of the illustrated manuscripts of the Kalpasutra. Introduction of
the use of ultramarine blue and gold colour in the Western Indian
manuscripts is also believed to be due to the influence of the Persian
painting. These Persian paintings, which came to India, were in the
form of illustrated manuscripts. A number of such manuscripts were
copied in India. Some colours used in these types of copies can be
seen in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington and an illustrated manuscript
of Bustan of Sadi in the National Museum, New Delhi. The
Bustan was executed for Sultan Nadir Shah Khilji of Malwa (1500-1510
A.D.), by one Hajji Mahmud (painter) Shahsuwar (scribe).
illustrated manuscript of the Nimat Nama (Cookery Book)
which exists in the Indian Office Library, London is marked by a
new trend of painting at Malwa. The manuscript was started in the
time of Ghiyasaldin Khilji of Malwa (1469-1500 A.D.). A left of this
manuscript is illustrated here. It shows Ghiyasaldin Khilji supervising
cooking being done by maids. In the Nimat Nama style the
Persian influence is visible in the scroll like clouds, flowering
trees, grassy tufts and flowering plants in the background, female
figures and costumes. Indian elements are noticeable in some female
types and their costumes and ornaments and colours. In this manuscript
one can notice the first attempt towards the evolution of new styles
of painting by the fusion of the Persian style of Shiraz with the
indigenous Indian style.
Gita - Govinda, Mewar, Rajasthan School of Painting
finest examples of painting belonging to the first half of the 16th
century are, however, represented by a group of miniatures generally
designated as the "Kulhadar Group". This group includes illustrations
of the 'Chaurapanchasika' - "Fifty Verses of the Thief by Bilhan,
the Gita Govinda, the Bhagavata Purana and Ragamala. The
style of these miniatures is marked by the use of brilliant contrasting
colours, vigorous and angular drawing, transparent drapery and the
appearance of conical caps 'Kulha' on which turbans are worn by the
example of the Chaurapanchasika miniature shows Champavati
standing near a lotus pond. This miniature belongs to the N.C. Mehta
collection, Bombay. It was executed in the first quarter of the 6th
century, probably in Mewar. The style of the painting is purely indigenous
derived from the earlier tradition of the Westen Indian art and does
not show any influence of either the Persian or the Mughal style
manuscripts of the Laur Chanda, an Avadhi romance by Mulla
Daud, one in the Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay and the other in
John Rylands Library, Manchester seem to have been painted at Muslim
courts between 1530 to 1540 A.D. They show a mixture of Persian and
Indian styles like the Nimat Nama of Malwa. The other two
important manuscripts of this period are the Mrigavati and
the Mahapurana, a Jain text. They are executed in a style related
to Chaurapanchasika style.
II. THE MUGHAL SCHOOL (1560-1800
origin of the Mughal School of Painting is considered to be a landmark
in the history of painting in India. With the establishment of
the Mughal empire, the Mughal School of painting originated in
the reign of Akbar in 1560 A.D. Emperor Akbar was keenly interested
in the art of painting and architecture. While a boy he had taken
lessons in drawing. In the beginning of his rule an ateliar of
painting was established under the supervision of two Persian masters,
Mir Sayyed A1i and Abdul Samad Khan, who were originally employed
by his father Humayun. A large number of Indian artists from all
over India were recruited to work under the Persian masters.
Mughal style evolved as a result of a happy synthesis of the indigenous
Indian style of painting and the Safavid school of Persian painting.
The Mughal style is marked by supple naturalism based on close
observation of nature and fine and delicate drawing. It is of an
high aesthetic merit. It is primarily aristocratic and secular.
illustrated manuscript of the Tuti-nama in the Cleveland
Museum of Art (USA) appears to be the first work of the Mughal
School. The style of painting in this manuscript shows the Mughal
style in its formative stage. Shortly after that, between 1564-69
A.D. was completed a very ambitious project in the form of Hamza-nama illustrations
on cloth, originally consisting of 1400 leaves in seventeen volumes.
Each leaf measured about 27"x20". The style of Hamza-nama is
more developed and refined than that of the Tuti-nama.
Akbar's return, Mughal painting from Ain-i-Akbari
Hamza - nama
illustration on cloth, Mughal School of Painting
The Hamza-nama illustrations
are in a private collection in Switzerland. It shows Mihrdukht shooting
arrows at the bird on a multi-staged minaret, from the upper storey
of a pavilion. In this miniature one can observe that the architecture
is Indo-Persian, the tree types are mainly derived from the Deccani
painting and female types are adapted from the earlier Rajasthani paintings,
Women are wearing four comered pointed skirts and transparent muslim
veils. Turbans worn by men are small and tight, typical of the Akbar
Mughal style was further influenced by the European paintings which
came in the Mughal court, and absorbed some of the Westem techniques
like shading and perspective.
other important manuscripts illustrated during the period of Akbar are
the Gulistan of Sadi dated 1567 in the British Museum, London,
the Anwari-Suhavli (a book of fables) dated 1570 in the School
of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, another Gulistan
of Sadi in the Royal Asiatic Society Library copied at Fatehpur Sikri
in 1581 by Muhammad Hussain al-Kashmiri, a Diwan of the poet
Amir Shahi in the Bibliotheque Nationale, of the Diwan of Hafiz, one
divided between the British Museum and the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin
and the second in the Persian section of the Chester Beatty Library,
another manuscript of the Tuti-nama in the same Library, the Razm-nama (Persian
translation of the Mahabharata) in the Maharaja of Jaipur Museum, Jaipur,
the Baharistan of Jami dated 1595 in the Bodleian Library, the Darab-nama in
the British Museum, the Akbar-nama (circa 1600) in the Victoria
and Albert Museum, London, the Tarikh-i-Alfi dated 1596 A.D.
in the Gulistan Library in Tehran, a number of the Babar-nama, a
manuscript executed in the last decade of the 16th century, the Twarikh-e-Khandane Taimuria
in the Khuda Baksh Library, Patna, the Jog Vashisht dated 1602 in the
Chester Beatty Library, Dublin etc. Moreover, a number of paintings of
court and hunting scenes and portraits were also executed during the
period of Akbar.
School of painting
Portrait of Jahangir, Miniature painting, Mughal School of painting
list of Akbar's court painters includes a large number of names. Some
of the famous painters other than the two Persian masters already mentioned
are Dasvanth, Miskina, Nanha, Knha, Basawan, Manohar, Doulat, Mansur,
Kesu, Bhim Gujarati, Dharam Das, Madhu, Surdas, Lal, Shankar Goverdhan
Jahangir, painting acquired greater charm, refinement and dignity.
He had great fascination for nature and took delight in the portraiture
of birds, animals and flowers. Some important manuscripts illustrated
during his period are, an animal fable book called Ayar-i-Danish, the
leaves of which are in the Cowasji Jahangir collection, Bombay and
the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, and the Anwar-i-sunavli, another
fable book in the British Museum, London, both executed between 1603-10,
some miniatures in the Gulistan and a Diwan of Hafiz both in the
British Museum. Besides a number of durbar scenes, portraits, bird,
animal and flower studies were also executed during his period. The
famous painters of Jahangir are Aqa Riza, Abul Hasan, Mansur, Bishan
Das, Manohar, Goverdhan, Balchand, Daulat, Mukhlis, Bhim and Inayat.
portrait of Jahangir illustrated is a typical example of miniature
executed during the period of Jahangir. This miniature is in the
collection of the National Museum, New Delhi. It shows Jahangir holding
a picture of the Virgin Mary in his right hand. The portrait is remarkable
for its superb drawing and fine modelling and realism. There is liberal
use of gold colour on the borders which are decorated with floral
designs. Text in Persian appears along the border. The portrait is
assigned to 1615-20 A.D. Following the example of the Mughal Emperor
the courtiers and the provincial officers also patronised painting.
They engaged artists trained in the Mughal technique of painting.
But the artists available to them were of inferior merit, those who
could not seek employment in the Imperial Atelier which required
only first-rate artists. The works of such painters are styled as "Popular
Mughal" or 'Provincial Mughal' painting. This style of painting
has all important characteristics of the Imperial Mughal painting
but is inferior in quality. Some notable examples of the Popular
Mughal painting are a series of the Razm-nama dated 1616
A.D., a series of the Rasikapriya (1610-1615) and a series of the
Ramayana of circa 1610 A.D., in several Indian and foreign museums.
example from a series of the Ramayana of the early 17th century
in the typical popular Mughal style, from the collection of the
National Museum, New Delhi. It shows a fight between the armies
of Rama and Ravana in Lanka. Rama with his brother Lakshmana is
seen in the foreground to the left while Ravana is seen in his
court conversing with the demon chiefs inside the golden fort.
The drawing is fine but not as refined as observed in the Imperial
Mughal painting. The human facial type, demons, the tree types
and the treatment of rocks are all in the Mughal manner. The miniature
is marked by the spirit of action and dramatic movement created
in the fighting scene.
Shah Jahan the Mughal painting maintained its fine quality. But
the style, however, became over-ripe during the later period of
his rule. Portraiture was given considerable attention by his painters.
The well-known artists of his period are Bichiter, Chaitaraman,
Anup Chattar, Mohammed Nadir of Samarquand, Inayat and Makr. Apart
from portraiture, other paintings showing groups of ascetics and
mystics and a number of illustrated manuscripts were also executed
during his period. Some noteworthy examples of such manuscripts
are the Gulistan and the Bustan of Sadi, copied
for the emperor in the first and second years of his reign and
the Shah Jahan Nama 1657, at Windsor Castle.
in the collection of the National Museum depicts a gathering of Sufis (Muslim
divines) who are seen seated in an open space and engaged in discussion.
It displays supple naturalism of the Mughal style of the Shah Jahan
period. The drawing is refined and the colours have subdued tones.
The background is green and the sky is in golden colour. The borders
show floral designs in golden colour. The miniature is assigned
to circa 1650 A.D.
Shahjahan on a globe, Mughal School of painting
was a puritan and therefore did not encourage art. Painting declined
during his period and lost much of its earlier quality. A large number
of court painters migrated to the provincial courts.
the period of Bahadur Shah, there was a revival of the Mughal painting
after the neglect shown by Aurangzeb. The style shows an improvement
1712 A.D. the Mughal painting again started deteriorating under the
later Mughals. Though retaining the outer form it became lifeless and
lost inherent quality of the earlier Mughal art.
III.. THE DECCANI SCHOOLS (CIRCA
no pre-Mughal painting from the Deccan are so far known to exist,
yet it can safely be presumed that sophisticated schools of painting
flourished there, making a significant contribution to the development
of the Mughal style in North India. Early centres of painting in
the Deccan, during the 16th and 17th centuries were Ahmednagar,
Bijapur and Golconda. In the Deccan, painting continued to develop
independently of the Mughal style in the beginning. However, later
in the 17th and 18th centuries it was increasingly influenced by
the Mughal style.
earliest examples of the Ahmednagar painting are contained in a
volume of poems written in praise of Hussain Nizam Shah I of Ahmednagar
(1553-1565) and his queen. This manuscript known as the 'Tarif-in-Hussain
Shahi and assigned to a period 1565-69 is preserved in the
Bharat ltihas Samshodaka Mandala, Poona. One of the illustrations
depicts the king sitting on the throne and attended by a number
of women. The female type appearing in the painting belongs to
the northern tradition of Malwa. The Choli (bodice) and
long pigtails braided and ending in a tassel are the northern costume.
But the long scarf passing round the body is in the southern fashion.
The colours used in the painting being rich and brilliant are different
from those used in the northern paintings. The Persian influence
can be seen in the high horizon, gold sky and the landscape.
other fine examples of the Ahmednagar painting are the "Hindola
Raga" of about 1590 A.D. and portraits of Burhan Nizam Shah
II of Ahmednagar (1591-96 A.D.) and of Malik Amber of about 1605
A.D. existing in the National Museum, New Delhi and other museums.
Pahari, Kangra School, Hindola Raga, 1790-1800 A. D
Prince of Bijapur
., Deccani School of painting
Bijapur, painting was patronised by Ali Adil Shah I (1558-80 A.D.)
and his successor Ibrahim II (1580-1627 A.D.). An encyclopaedia known
as the Najum-al-ulum (Stars of Sciences), preserved in the
Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, was illustrated in 1570 A.D. in the
reign of Ali Adil Shah I. This manuscript contains 876 miniatures.
The ladies appearing in the illustrations are tall and slender and
are wearing the South Indian dress. One of the miniatures illustrated
here shows the "Throne of Prosperity". There is influence
of the Lepakshi mural painting on the female types. The rich colour
scheme, the palm trees, animals and men and women all belong, to
the Deccani tradition. The profuse use of gold colour, some flowering
plants and arabesques on the top of the throne are derived from the
II (1580-1627 A.D.) was a musician and author of a book, the Naurasnama., on
the subject. It is believed that a number of the Ragamala paintings
were commissioned in various museums and private collections. A few
contemporary portraits of Ibrahim II are also available in several
earliest paintings identified as Golconda work are a group of five
charming paintings of about 1590 A.D. in the British Museum, London,
painted in the period of Muhammad Quli Quta Shah (1580-1611) Golconda.
They show dancing girls entertaining the company. One of the miniatures
illustrated shows the king in his court watching a dance performance.
He wears the white muslim coat with embroidered vertical band,
a typical costume associated with the Golconda court. Gold colour
has been lavishly used in painting the architecture, costume, jewellery
and vessels etc.
outstanding examples of the Golconda painting are "Lady with
the Myna bird", about 1605 A.D. in the Chester Beatty Library,
Dublin, an illustrated manuscript of a Sufi poem (1605-15 A.D.)
in the British Museum, London and a couple of portraits showing
a poet in a garden and an elegantly dressed young man seated on
a golden stool and reading a book, both signed by a certain artist
Muhammad Ali in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Deccani painting absorbed influences of the northern tradition
of the pre-Mughal painting which was flourishing in Malwa, and
of the southern tradition of the Vijayanagar murals as evident
in the treatment of female types and costumes. Influence of the
Persian painting is also observed in the treatment of the horizon
gold sky and landscape. The colours are rich and brilliant and
are different from those of the northern painting. Tradition of
the early Deccani painting continued long after the extinction
of the Deccan Sultanates of Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golconda.
Lady smokingHooka, Golconda painting
A lady with made,
Vilaval Ragini, 18th century A.D.
in Hyderabad started with the foundation of the Asafjhi dynasty by
Mir Qamruddin Khan (Chin Qulick Khan) Nizam-ul-Mulk in 1724 A.D.
Influence of the Mughal style of painting on the already existing
early styles of Deccani paintings, introduced by several Mughal painters
who migrated to the Deccan during the period of Aurangzeb and sought
patronage there, was responsible for the development of various styles
of painting in the Deccan at Hyderabad and other centres. Distinctive
features of the Deccani paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries
are observed in the treatment of the ethnic types, costumes, jewellery,
flora, fauna, landscape and colours.
miniature showing a princess in the company of maids is a typical
example of the Hyderabad school of painting. The princess is reclining
on richly furnished terrace covered with a canopy. The style of the
painting is decorative. Typical characteristics of the Hyderabad
painting like the rich colours, the Deccani facial types and costumes
can be observed in the miniature. It belongs to the third quarter
of the 18th century.
style of painting characterised by bold drawing, techniques of
shading and the use of pure and brilliant colours flourished at
Tanjore in South India during the late 18th and 19th centuries.
typical example of the Tanjore painting, in the collection of the
National Museum, is an illustrated wooden panel of early 19th century
showing the coronation of Rama. The scene is laid under elaborately
decorated arches. In the middle Rama and Sita are seated on the
throne, attended by his brothers and a lady; In the left and right
panels are seen rishis, courtiers and princes. In the
foreground are Hanuman, Sugriva who is being honoured and two other vanaras opening
a box probably containing gifts. The style is decorative and is
marked by the use of bright colours and ornamental details. The
conical crown appearing in the miniature is a typical feature of
the Tanjore painting.
Krishana, Tanjore painting, 18th century A.D
Gita - Govinda, Mewar, Rajasthan School of Painting
IV. THE CENTRAL INDIAN AND RAJASTHANI SCHOOLS
Mughal painting which is primarily secular, the art of painting in
Central India, Rajasthani and the Pahari region etc. is deeply rooted
in the Indian traditions, taking inspiration from Indian epics, religious
texts like the Puranas, love poems in Sanskrit and other Indian languages,
Indian folk-lore and works on musical themes. The cults of Vaishnavism,
Saivism and Sakti exercised tremendous influence on
the pictorial art of these places. Among these the cult of Krishna
was the most popular one which inspired the patrons and artists.
The themes from the Ramayana., the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata, the Siva Purana,
the Naishadacarita, the Usha Aniruddha, the Gita Govinda of
Jayadeva, the Rasamanjari of Bhanudatta, the Amaru Sataka, the Rasikapriya of
Kesavadasa, the Bihari Satasayee and the Ragamala etc.,
provided a very rich field to the painter who with his artistic skill
and devotion made a significant contribution to the development of
the 16th century there already existed in Central India and Rajasthan
the primitive art traditions in the form of the 'Western Indian'
and the 'Chaurapanchasika' styles which served as a base for the
origin and growth of various schools of painting during the 17th
century. Peaceful conditions prevailed in Rajasthan in the later
half of the 16th and the 17th centuries. The Rajput rulers had
gradually accepted the Mughal supremacy and many among them occupied
important positions in the Mughal court. Some of the rulers also
entered into matrimonial alliances with the Mughals. The Rajput
rulers following the example set by the Mughal Emperors employed
artists to work at their courts. Some of the Mughal artists of
inferior merit who were no longer required by the Mughal Emperors,
migrated to Rajasthan and other places and found employment at
the local courts. It is believed that the popular version of the
Mughal style which these painters carried to various places influenced
the already existing styles of paintings there with the consequence
that a number of new schools of painting originated in Rajasthan
and Central India in the 17th and 18th centuries. Among these the
important schools of paintings are Malwa, Mewar, Bundi- Kotah,
AmberJaipur, Bikaner, Marwar and Kishengarh.
Rajasthani style of painting including that of Malwa, is marked
by bold drawing, strong and contrasting colours. The treatment
of figures is flat without any attempt to show perspective in a
naturalistic manner. Sometimes the surface of the painting is divided
into several compartments of different colours in order to separate
one scene from another. Mughal influence is seen in the refining
of drawing and some element of naturalism introduced in figures
and trees. Each school of painting has its distinct facial type,
costume, landscape and colour scheme.
Miniature Painting, Mewar, Rajasthan School of Painting
Ravana begging sita for Alm, Malwa, Rajasthan School of painting
of the important paintings executed in the Malwa style are a series
of the Rasikapriya dated 1634 A.D., a series of the Amaru
Sataka painted in 1652 A.D. at a place called Nasratgarh and
a series of the Ragamala painted in 1680 A.D. by an artist
named Madhau Das, at Narsyanga Shah, some of them available in the
National Museum, New Delhi, another Amaru-Sataka of the
same period in the Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay and a Ragamala series
of about 1650 A.D. in the Bharat Kala Bhavan, Banaras. The art of
painting in Malwa continued till the end of the 17th century A.D.
example from a series of the Ragamala of 1680 A.D. represents
the Megha Raga. The miniature shows the blue-complexioned Raga dancing
with a lady to the accompaniment of music played by three female
musicians. The scene is laid against a blue background. The sky is
overcast with dark clouds with a streak of lightening and rain is
indicated by white dotted lines. Four swans flying in a row, against
a dark background of clouds, enhance the pictorial effect to the
miniature. The text is written in Nagari on the top. The typical
characteristics of the painting are the use of contrasting colours,
refinement of drawing due to the influence of the Mughal painting
and ornaments and costumes consisting of black tassels and striped
earliest example of Mewar painting is a series of the Ragamala painted
in 1605 A.D. at Chawand, a small place near Udaipur, by Misardi. Most
of the paintings of this series are in the collection of shri Gopi
Krishna Kanoria. Another important series of the Ragamala was
painted by Sahibdin in 1628 A.D. Some paintings of this series which
previously belonged to the Khajanchi collection, are now in the National
Museum, New Delhi. Other examples of the Mewar painting are the illustration
to the third book (Aranya Kanda) of the Ramayana dated 1651
A.D., in the Saraswati Bhandar, Udaipur, the seventh book (Uttara
Kanda) of the Ramayana dated 1653 A.D. in the British Museum,
London and a series of the Ragamala miniature of almost the same period
in the National Museum, New Delhi.An example from the Ragamala series
painted by Sahibdin in 1628 A.D. which is now in the National Museum,
is the miniature that shows the Lalita Ragini.. The heroine
is lying on a bed with her eyes closed under a painted pavilion with
a door, while a maid presses her feet. Outside, the hero is seen carrying
a garland in either hand. In the foreground is a caparisoned horse
with a groom sitting near the steps of the pavilion. The drawing is
bold and the colours are bright and contrasting. The text of the painting
is written in black on the top against the yellow ground.
Mewar, Rajasthan School of Painting
Raga Megha Malhar, Bundi, Rajasthan School of painting
Bundi style of painting is very close to the Mewar style, but the
former excels the latter in quality. Painting in Bundi started as
early as circa 1625 A.D. A painting showing Bhairavi Ragini, in the
Allahabad Museum is one of the earliest examples of Bundi painting.
Some examples are, an illustrated manuscript of the Bhagawata. Purana in
the Kotah Museum and a series of the Rasikapriya in the
National Museum, New Delhi.
series of the Rasikapriya of the late 17th century, has
a scene which represents Krishna trying to collect butter from a Gopi, but
finding that the pot contains a piece of cloth and some other objects
and no butter he rea1ises that he has been duped by the Gopi. In
the background are trees and in the foreground is a river indicated
with wavy lines. In the river are seen flowers and a pair of acquatic
birds. The painting has a border in brilliant red colour. The peculiar
characteristics of the Bundi painting, as evident in this miniature,
are the rich and glowing colours, the rising sun in golden colour,
crimson-red horizon, overlapping and semi-naturalistic trees. The
Mughal influence is visible in the refined drawing of the faces and
an element of naturalism in the treatment of the trees. The text
is written in black against yellow background on the top.
style of painting very much akin to the Bundi style also prevailed
in Kotah a place near Bundi, during the late 18th and 19th centuries.
Themes of tiger and bear hunt were very popular at Kotah. In Kotah
paintings, most of the space is occupied by the hilly jungle which
has been rendered with a unique charm.
Ragin Vasanta, Kotah painting, Rajasthan School of painting
Jaipur painting, Rajasthani school of painting,
5. AMBER - JAIPUR
State of Amber had the closest relations with the Mughal Emperors.
It is generally believed that a school of painting originated at
Amber, the old capital of the Amber State, in early 17th century.
Later on in the 18th century, the centre of artistic activity shifted
to Jaipur, the new capital. There is a fairly large number of portraits
of the Jaipur rulers and miniatures on other subjects which can definitely
be assigned to the Jaipur School.
Marwar painting, Rajasthan School of painting
of the earliest examples of painting in Marwar is a series of the Ragamala in
the collection of Kumar Sangram Singh, painted by an artist named
Virji in 1623 A.D. at Pali in Marwar. The miniatures are executed
in a primitive and vigorous folk style and are completely uninfluenced
by the Mughal style. .
large number of miniatures comprising portraits, court scenes, series
of the Ragamala and the Baramasa, etc. were executed from the 17th
to 19th centuries at several centres of painting like Pali, Jodhpur
and Nagour etc. in Marwar.
was one of the States which had close relations with the Mughals.
Some of the Mughal artists during the later half of the 17th century
were given patronage by the Bikaner court and were responsible
for the introduction of a new style of painting having much similarity
with the Mughal and the Deccani styles. One important artist Ali
Raza "the Ustad (master) of Delhi", was employed by Raja
Karan Singh of Bikaner in about 1650 A.D. Some other noteworthy
artists who worked at the Bikaner court were Ruknuddin and his
Krishna & Radha, Bikaner, Rajasthan School of painting, 18th
Radha and Krishna, Kishengarh, Rajasthan School of painting
the second quarter of the 18th century, there developed the most
charming school of Rajasthani painting in Kishengarh under the patronage
of Raja Savant Singh (1748-1757 A.D.) who wrote devotional poetry
in praise of Krishna, under the assumed name of Nagari Das. Unfortunately
only a small number of Kishengarh miniatures are available. Most
of them are believed to have been done by the master painter Nihal
Chand who, in his works, has been able to create visual images of
his master's lyrical compositions. The artist has executed types
of human figures, delicately drawn, with slender bodies and uptilted
beautiful miniature of the Kishengarh School, from the National Museum
collection is illustrated here. It portrays a lovely pastoral scene
of the return of Krishna with gopas and cows to Gokula in
the evening. The painting is marked by delicate drawing, fine modelling
of the human figures and cows and the broad vista of landscape showing
a stream, rows of overlapping trees, and architecture. The artist
has displayed a masterly skill in the grouping of many figures in
the miniature. The painting has a golden inner border. It is ascribed
to the middle of the 18th century and may be the work of Nihal Chand
the famous artist of Kishengarh.
V. THE PAHARI SCHOOLS (17TH TO 19TH CENTURIES)
Pahari region comprises the present State of Himachal Pradesh,
some adjoining areas of the Punjab, the area of Jammu in the Jammu
and Kashmir State and Garhwal in Uttar Pradesh. The whole of this
area was divided into small States ruled by the Rajput princes
and were often engaged in welfare. These States were centres of
great artistic activity from the latter half of the
17th to nearly the middle of the 19th century.
earliest centre of painting in the Pahari region was Basohli where
under the patronage of Raja Kripal Pal, an artist named Devidasa
executed miniatures in the form of the Rasamanjari illustrations
in 1694 A.D. There is one more series of the Rasamanjari miniatures
painted in the same style and almost of the same period but appears
to be in a different hand. The illustrations of the two Rasamanjari series
are scattered in a number of Indian and foreign museums. The Basohli
style of painting is characterised by vigorous and bold line and
strong glowing colours. The Basohli style spread to the various
neighbouring states and continued till the middle of the 18th century.
illustration from a series of Gita Govinda painted by artist Manaku
in 1730 A.D. shows further development of the Basohli style. The
miniature which is in the collection of the National Museum, depicts
Krishna in the company of gopis in a grove on the bank of a river.
is a change in the facial type which becomes a little heavier and
also in the tree forms which assume a somewhat naturalistic character,
which may be due to the influence of the Mughal painting. Otherwise,
the general features of the Basohli style like the use of strong
and contrasting colours, monochrome background, large eyes, bold
drawing, use of beetles wings for showing diamonds in ornaments,
narrow sky and the red border are observable in this miniature
Devi rides on a Chariot, Basohli, Pahari School of Painting
Portrait of Raja Bishen Singh of Guler, Pahari School of Painting
last phase of the Basohli style was closely followed by the Jammu
group. of paintings mainly consisting of portraits of Raja Balwant
Singh of Jasrota (a small place near Jammu) by Nainsukh, an artist
who originally belonged to Guler but had settled at Jasrota. He worked
both at Jasrota and at Guler. These paintings are in a new naturalistic
and delicate style marking a change from the earlier traditions of
the Basohli art. The colours used are soft and cool. The style appears
to have been inspired by the naturalistic style of the Mughal painting
of the Muhammad Shah period.
Guler, another State in the Pahari region, a number of portraits
of Raja Goverdhan Chand of Guler were executed in circa 1750 A.D.
in a style having close affinity with the portraits of Balwant Singh
of Jasrota. They are drawn delicately and have a bright and rich
finest group of miniatures done in the Pahari region is represented
by the famous series of the Bhagavata, the Gita Govinda, the
Bihari Satasai, the Baramasa and the Ragamala,
painted in 1760-70 A.D. The exact place of origin of these series
of painting is not known. They might have been painted either at
Guler or Kangra or any other nearby centre. The Guler portraits together
with the Bhagavata and the other series have been grouped under a
common title of "Guler Style" on the basis of the style
of the Guler portraits. The style of these paintings is naturalistic,
delicate and lyrical. The female type in these paintings is particularly
delicate with well-modelled faces, small and slightly upturned nose
and the hair done minutely. It is very likely that these paintings
are in the hand of the master-artist Nainsukh himself or by one of
his competent associates.
Guler style was followed by another style of painting termed as
the "Kangra style", representing the third phase of the
Pahari painting in the last quarter of the 18th century. The Kangra
style developed out of the Guler style. It possesses the main characteristics
of the latter style, like the delicacy of drawing and quality of
naturalism. The name Kangra style is given to this group of painting
for the reason that they are identical in style to the portraits
of Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra. In these paintings, the faces of
women in profile have the nose almost in line with the forehead,
the eyes are long and narrow and the chin is sharp. There is, however,
no modelling of figures and hair is treated as a flat mass. The
Kangra style continued to flourish at various places namely Kangra,
GuIer, Basohli, Chamba, Jammu, Nurpur and Garhwal etc. Paintings
of the Kangra style are attributed mainly to the Nainsukh family.
Some of the Pahari painters found patronage in the Punjab under
Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the Sikh nobility in the beginning of
the 19th century and executed portraits and other miniatures in
a modified version of the Kangra style which continued till the
middle of the 19th century.
Kangra, Pahari School of Painting
The lady and the crane, Kulu-Mandi, Rajasthan school of painting.
4. KULU - MANDl
with the naturalistic Kangra style in the Pahari region, there also
flourished a folk style of painting in the Kulu-Mandi area, mainly
inspired by the local tradition. The style is marked by bold drawing
and the use of dark and dull colours. Though influence of the Kangra
style is observed in certain cases yet the style maintains its distinct
folkish character. A large number of portraits of the Kulu and Mandi
rulers and miniatures on other themes are available in this style.
miniature from the series of the Bhagavata in the collection
of the National Museum was painted by Shri Bhagwan in 1794 A.D. Illustrations
show Krishna lifting the Goverdhana mountain on his little finger
to save the people of Gokula from the wrath of Indra who has let
loose heavy rains. The dark clouds and rain in the form of white
dotted lines are shown in the background. The drawing of figures
is bold though rather stiff. The painting has a yellow floral border.
example of the Kulu painting is of two girls flying kites. The miniature
is in the folk style of the late 18th century and is marked by bold
drawing and dark and dull colour scheme. The background colour is
dull blue. The girls are wearing the typical costumes and ornaments
which prevailed in the Kulu region in that period. Two flying parrots
indicate sky in a symbolic manner. The miniature belongs to the collection
of the National Museum.
earliest surviving examples of miniature painting in Orissa appear
to belong to the 17th century A.D. Some good examples of the paintings
of this period are a court scene and four illustrated leaves of
a manuscript of the Gita Govinda in the Asutosh Museum,
Calcutta and an illutrated palmleaf manuscript of the Ramayana in
the National Museum.. An illustrated palm-leaf manuscript of the Bhagavata in
the Asutosh Museum and a paper manuscript of the Gita Govinda in
the National Museum are examples of the 18th century Orissa painting.
In Orissa, palm-leaf continued to be used even upto the 19th century.
The outline drawing was rendered with a stylus on the palm-leaf
and then charcoal or ink was rubbed on the drawing. A few colours
were sparingly used to fill in the designs. The technique of painting
on paper was, however, different and was like the one used in other
schools of painting. The early manuscripts display a neatness in
drawing. Later on in the 18th century the line becomes bold and
a little crude but the style in general is very decorative and
illustration from a series of the Gita Govinda of circa
1800 A.D. in the collection of the National Museum depicts Krishna
and Radha. They stand face to face under the dropping branches
of a slender tree, against a red background. The style is very
decorative and is marked by bold drawing, stylisation of the tree,
heavy ornamentation of figures and use of rich colour schemes.
The Sanskrit text is given on the top.
Govinda, Palm Leaf painting, Orissa
were executed in the traditional tempera technique. After mixing colours
in water along with a binding medium they were applied on the drawing.
First, the sketch was freely drawn in red or black over which a white
priming was given. The surface was thoroughly burnished till the outline
showed clearly through it. Then a second outline was drawn with a fine
brush. First the background was coloured and then the sky, buildings
and trees, etc. Figures were painted last of all after which a final
outline was drawn. When copies were made from perforated sketches by
rubbing- charcoal powder, the dotted outline took the place of the
first drawing. Colours used in paintings were obtained from minerals
and ochres. Indigo was the vegetable colour. Lac-dye and red carmine
were obtained from insects. Burnt conch shell and zinc white (safeda) were
used as white colour. Lamp black and burnt ivory (Kajal) were
used as black colour. Red ochre (geru), red lead (sindhura), lac-dye
and red carmine were used as red colour, indigo and ultramarine were
used for blue. Yellow ochre, orpiment and peori (extracted
from urine of cows fed on mango-leaves) were used for yellow. Silver
and gold were also used. Terraverte, malachite and verdigriz (Zangal) were
used as green colour which was also obtained by mixing other colours.
Gum arabic and neem gum were used as binding media in colours.
Brushes were made of animal's hair. Fine brushes were made from squirrel's
hair, the finest being of a single hair. Apart from palm leaf and paper,
wood and cloth were also often used as materials for painting.
traditional Indian painting started deteriorating after the first half
of the 18th century and by the end of the century it lost most of its
vitality and charm. However, in the Pahari region the art of painting
maintained its quality till the end of the first quarter of the 19th
century. Under the impact of the Western colours and technique of painting
the traditional styles of Indian painting finally died out in the second
half of the 19th century.
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