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Basohli paintings - An art of hilly region

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 3:30 AM
Basohli is a town in Himachal Pradesh, which is famous for a particular style of painting known as Basohli Paintings. The Basohli school is the oldest one amongst Pahari schools in the hill area. The early stage of development of the Pahari painting started in the mid 17th century. The school took its name from the small independent state of Basohli. The town of Basohli is situated on the bank of the river Ravi in Himachal Pradesh. Basohli school of paintings has produced superb Devi series (magnificent series of the manifestations of the Supreme Goddess). Apart from that, it is also known for the magnificent depiction of the Rasamanjari text. Artist Devidasa painted it under the patronage of Raja Kirpal Pal. Gita Govinda of 1730 is also believed to have Basohli origin.

The chief characteristics of the Basohli paintings were geometrical patterns, bright colors and glossy enamel. Besides the bold colors, lustrous enamel like colors were also employed. The decorative conventions and dramatic compositions where the figures were shown clad in rich costumes, stylized faces, and large bulging eyes lent unique individuality to these paintings.

The popular themes of the Basohli paintings are the portraits of local rulers, the Hindu gods, figures from Hindu mythology, Radha-Krishna, Madhava-Malati love themes and themes from the Bhagavata Purana. Figures in Basohli paintings were often depicted in rich costumes with stylized faces and large bulging eyes. Basohli paintings evolved by fusion of Hindu mythology, Mughal miniature techniques and folk art of the local hills. In these paintings the faces of the figures painted are characterized by the receding foreheads and large expressive eyes shaped like lotus petals. The landscape is stylized and trees are often depicted in circular form. The composition is simple but unique. The paintings themselves are mostly painted in the primary colors of Red, Blue and Yellow. One of the most popular themes in Basohli painting particularly during the reign of Kripal Pal was the Rasamanjari written by the poet Bhanu Datta. A Basohli Rasamanjari series was illustrated by Devidas, a local painter of Basholi belonging to the Tarkhan community, which produced many skilled artists.

The first mention of Basohli painting is in the annual report of the Archaeological Survey of India for the year 1918-19 published in 1921. Referring to the acquisitions of the Archaelogical Section of the Central Museum, Lahore, the report states that "a series of old paintings of the Basohli School were purchased and the Curator concluded that the Basohli Schools is possibly of pre-Moghul origin, and so called Tibeti pictures are nothing but late productions of this school”.All paintings are ourtesy of Art of Legend India.

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