History of Indian Miniature Paintings

  • History and influence
    Paintings in India can be traced back to second century B.C. the pictures were done in varying palace walls, leaves, wood, paper, cloth, etc. They are found all over the country from the South to the North.Thereafter the miniature paintings started taking form in India. Initially they were done on Palm leaves and later the work was done on paper. 

    With the disappearance of the projecting eye, the development of the profile face, the gradual elimination of the angular features and with changes in ornamentation and drapery, the miniature paintings entered into a new phase. 

  • Rajput paintings: The rajasthani school of miniature painting started in the 16th century. This covers a large area from jaisalmer and Bikaner in the west to Kotah and Bundi in south-east rajasthan and to Datia and Orchha in North Madhya Pradesh. The principal centres of this art were Udiapur, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Bikaner. A local school of Art founded by Maharaja Samant Singh was started in Kishangarh, few Kilometers from Ajmer. Colour –harmony was projected with a rare genius and the painters depicted nature according to their conventions. They were inspired by their immediate surroundings. For instance, the paintings from Jodhpur had a fine depiction of Mango trees, an inspiration that the artists drew from their local topography.Rajput paintings are known for depiction of natural beauty and scenic landscapes. They are also famous for depicting life episodes of Hindu deity Lord Krishna. These miniatures have exquisite portrayal of love, passion and emotion. They cover all sorts of Hindu mythologies such as themes of Ramayana and events form Mahabharata. In addition to miniatures, Rajput style of paintings is used to paint walls and roofs of chambers, havelis and rooms. Colors used are extracted from natural sources such as from vegetation, conch shells and even from elements like gold and silver. Very fine brushes are used to provide great detailing and to cover minutest of details.miniature-painting-730x410
  • Mughal paintings: Indian miniatures saw their rise during Mughal era. With the Mogul influence in miniature paintings, focus shifted to the portraits and richness of colour effects of the Mogul era. Mogul art flourished under Akbar, Shah Jahan and jehangir. Abkar started a translation of the Indian Ramayana along with other manuscripts like the Akbar nama. 

The preliminary sketch leads to application of Khadiya, a white paste to fill the holes that the paper might carry. An agate stone comes in; it is rubbed to burnish the paper before the brush, the colors all start to play shades, lines, forms and purpose.


 The colors used for the paintings; white, red, orange, mahavar (alta), yellow, green, blue, black, silver/gold (halakari), gond (babul tree), still keep the natural connection intact, just better organized.




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