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A painting is equal to thousand words, means a beautiful painting is equal to million of words. Paintings are one of the oldest art forms -- throughout history artists have played an important role in documenting social movements, spiritual beliefs and general life and culture.

History Of Paintings: The history of painting reaches back in time to artifacts from...

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An Introduction to Indian Paintings

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 1:56 AM
Prehistoric caves paintings
 Moved by the charm of Nature around him, man has expressed his appreciation of it in the works of art produced by him. This goes back to a time when he was still primitive. Art had a soft influence on him. Indian paintings are one of the forms of Indian art. Indian paintings like India are vast, different, remarkable and unique. Be it the mural paintings of Ajanta, Ellora, the Buddhist palm leaf manuscripts, the Jain texts or the Mughal, Deccan and Kangra discipline of miniature painting. Indian paintings provide an aesthetic continuum that extends from the early civilization to the present day. Indian painting was exposed to Greco-Roman as well as Iranian and Chinese influences. Cave paintings in different parts of India bear are remarkable. The earliest paintings of the prehistoric age in the caves all over the world give us magnificent examples of the observant eyes. The prehistoric cave paintings in India give us a picture of life in those far-off days of the early man in India.

The art of painting has been a medium of both, expression and communication from the earliest known period of history. The art of painting progressed gradually and it reached its zenith during the Satavahana period (2nd – 1st B.C.) and also the Gupta- Vakataka period (5th- 6th A.D.) Indian paintings are one of the oldest art forms throughout history. Indian paintings are a mode of expression, which depict social movements, spiritual beliefs and general life. 

Indian Paintings can be broadly categorized as the mural paintings and miniatures paintings. Mural paintings refer to paintings on walls, ceilings or other large permanent surfaces. The paintings in the Ajanta Caves and the Kailashnath temple are the fine examples of the Indian mural paintings. The history of Indian mural paintings started in ancient and early medieval times, from 2nd century BC to 8th - 10th century AD. There are known more than 20 locations around India containing mural paintings from this period. Mural paintings from this period depict mainly religious themes of various religions like Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. Miniature paintings are executed on a very small scale on perishable material such as paper and cloth. They are beautiful handmade paintings, which are quite colorful but small in size. Miniature paintings are one of the many things that make an Indian proud of his country's rich cultural heritage. Miniature paintings originated long back in the history of India. Miniatures paintings, as the name signifies, are an intricate, colorful paintings, small in size, executed meticulously with delicate brushwork. The colors used in miniatures are generally derived from natural sources and materials. The art of miniature painting reached its glory during the Mughal period. The tradition of miniature paintings was carried forward by the painters of different Rajasthani schools of painting like the Bundi, Kishangarh, Jaipur, Marwar and Mewar. The Ragamala paintings also belong to this school. 

Mughal Paintings
Mughal paintings in India go back to the period in between the sixteenth and the eighteenth century. It was the period when the Mughal emperors ruled over a large portion of India. Mughal paintings are a particular style of Indian painting, generally confined to illustrations on the book and done in miniatures, and which emerged, developed and took shape during the period of the Mughal Empire (16th -19th centuries). Paintings of the Mughal era were a unique blend of Indian, Persian and Islamic styles. The Mughal emperors wanted visual records of their exploits as hunters and conquerors, their artists depicted them in the great dynastic ceremonies of marriages. The paintings of that period include events, portraits and scenes of life of the courts, hunting scenes and wild life and instances of battles.

Akbar's reign (1556–1605) ushered a new era in Indian miniature painting. Paintings at Akbar’s court reflected a similar forcible and dynamic synthesis between the disparate cultures of Persia, India and Europe. Akbar had himself received training from his father’s two Persian masters. After he had consolidated his political power, he built a new capital at Fatehpur Sikri where he collected artists from India and Persia. He was the first monarch who established in India an atelier under the supervision of two Persian master artists, Mir Sayyed Ali and Abdus Samad. After Akbar, Jahangir encouraged artists to paint portraits and durbar scenes. His most talented portrait painters were Ustad Mansur, Abul Hasan and Bishandas. He ruled over India from 1605 to 1627 and he offered huge support to several forms of art, mainly paintings. Shah Jahan (1627–1658) also continued the patronage of painting. Some of the famous artists of the period were Mohammad Faqirullah Khan, Mir Hashim, Muhammad Nadir, Chitarman, Anupchhatar, Manohar and Honhar.

Rajput Paintings
Rajput painting, also known as Rajasthani Painting, is a style of Indian paintings developed and flourished during the 18th century in the royal courts of Rajasthan. The Mughals ruled almost all the princely states of Rajasthan at that time and because of this, most of the schools of Rajput Painting in India reflect significant Mughal influence. Each of the Rajput kingdoms evolved a distinctive style. Rajput paintings depict a number of themes, events of epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, Krishna' life etc.

With a long heredity, Rajput paintings continued a tradition and the conservative fashion remained practically unaffected except for a slight inevitable Mughal influence at the later stage. In the palaces at Jaipur and Udaipur, there are wall paintings which show how wonderfully the painters produced large mural paintings. In the last decades of the 16th Century Rajput art schools began to develop distinctive styles combining indigenous as well as foreign influences like Persian, Mughal, and European into unique styles. Various identifiable styles developed in different Rajput art schools at Amber, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Kishangarh, Kota, Bundi, Nathdwara, Kangra and Guler.

 Pahari Paintings
Pahari paintings, is the name given to Rajput paintingss, made in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir states of India. These paintings developed and flourished during the period of 17th to 19th century. Indian Pahari paintings have been done mostly in miniature forms. These miniature paintings became popular in the period from 17th to 19th century, under the patronage of Rajput kings. 

Pahari paintings have been widely influenced by the Rajput paintings, because their royal patrons were related to the Rajput kings. They basically celebrated the beauties of nature, and the qualities of love and devotion. These paintings deal with the subjects of love and devotion. Since they developed around the same time as the Bhakti Movement, the two themes often interlinked. Hence, many Kangra Paintings depicted the life and times of lord Krishna and Rama. They also played a significant role in broadening people’s understanding of the religious texts like the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Puranans.Pahari paintings may be broadly classified into three distinct schools such as Basohli, Guler-Kangra and Sikh.

Mysore Paintings
Mysore Paintings is a form of classical South Indian painting, which evolved in the Mysore city of Karnataka, India. Mysore paintings form a significant tradition of the classical south Indian paintings. They are popular for their elegance, peculiar usage of colors and the stress on detailing. These paintings generally depict the images of Hindu gods and goddesses and scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The most notable and famous among the Mysore paintings is the depiction of the Lord Shrinath. Mysore Paintings are used as mementos during the festive occasions in South India. Stylish demarcation of the images, frail lines and convoluted brush strokes are all the characteristics of Mysore paintings. These paintings require much more hard work. A number of steps are involved in the process of producing a Mysore painting. One by one all the steps should be performed to make a Mysore painting.

It was under the rule of Raja Krishna Raja Wodeyar (1578-1617 AD) that the popularity of the Mysore School of painting reached its highest point. He was well known for his considerable involvement to patronize art and encourage artists. In the traditional Mysore paintings, the artists used vegetable and mineral colors made out of pigments of leaves and flowers of various plants and minerals. Today the painting is done with commercially available media like poster and water colors. In the ancient times, paper, wood, wall and cloth formed the base of the painting. In modern times it is done mostly on paper pasted on to a board with glue or some other adhesive medium.

Tanjore Paintings
Tanjore Painting is a peculiar, ancient, miniature type of painting named after the place Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. Tanjore (Thanjavur or Thanjavoor) paintings have a very rich heritage. This style of painting has been followed widely by the people in Southern Tamil Nadu for the past two centuries. Tanjore paintings depict divine Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu pantheon in rich vibrant colors. The paintings are mostly of Hindu Gods and Goddesses because this art of painting flourished at a time when fine-looking and striking temples were being constructed by rulers of several dynasties. The figures in these paintings are large and the faces are round and divine. While most of the paintings depict the Child Krishna and his various pranks, paintings of other deities were also produced.

Tanjore paintings have a spiritual background. Like any form of art, this too has many schools of style. Some of the artists are traditionalists, preferring to emulate the old works, while some believe in creativity. As far as the cost of the paintings is concerned, a lot depends on the age, quality, and subject, intricacy of the work and usage of gold. Tanjore Paintings evoke a sense of class and timelessness with their alluring illustrations of puranic scenes. 

Made with meticulous care the Tanjore paintings are unique and wonderful. What sets them apart from Indian paintings in general are the embellishments made over the basic drawings with precious and semi-precious stones as well as the relief work which gives them a three dimensional effect. The rich vibrant colors, dashes of gold, semi-precious stones and fine artistic work are some of the main characteristics of these paintings. They add beauty and culture to a variety of surroundings and decor.

These paintings are ideal for pooja rooms and nice gifts for Diwali, Weddings and other auspicious occasions. Maratha princes, Nayaks of Vijaynagar dynasty, Rajas communities of Tanjore and Trichi and Naidus of Madurai patronized the art of Tanjore paintings from 16 to 18th centuries. Tanjore paintings are the ultimate forms of expression of love ofGodhead, truth, beauty and devotion. Hundreds of devoted artists from Tamil Nadu have kept alive this beautiful form of art and have brought about new innovations to it.

Madhubani paintings
Madhubani paintings or Mithila Paintings is a style of Indian painting, practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar (a state of India). These paintings are made on various mediums such as clothes, hand made paper and canvas. The main themes of Madhubani paintings contain images of Hindu gods and goddesses such as lord Krishna, Rama, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati etc. The natural themes that are used include the Sun, the Moon and the religious plants like Tulsi. One can also find paintings based on scenes from the royal courts and social events, like marriage and other social events.

The Madhubani paintings or Mithila Paintings were originated at the time of the Ramayana, when King Janak of Mithila hired artists to do paintings at the time of marriage of his daughter Sita with lord Rama. Madhubani paintings have been made traditionally by the women of villages around the present town of Madhubani and other areas of Mithila. Madhubani art is a form of traditional Indian art form. The themes of daily activities, nature, flora and fauna also form the prominent themes for Madhubani paintings.
There are 3 styles of Madhubani paintings-
1.Brahmin Style
2.Tatoo Style
3.Kshatriya Style 

The brushes used for Madhubani paintings were made of cotton, wrapped around a bamboo stick. The artists prepare the colors that are used for the paintings. Black color is made by adding soot to cow dung; yellow from combining turmeric (or pollen or lime) with the milk of banyan leaves; blue from indigo; red from the kusam flower juice or red sandalwood; green from the leaves of the wood apple tree; white from rice powder and orange from palasha flowers. There is no shading in the application of colors. A double line is drawn for outlines and the gap is filled with either cross or straight tiny lines.

Patachitra paintings
Patachitra painting is a distinct art form that originated in Orissa. Patta in Sanskrit means 'clothes' and chitra means ‘paintings’. It is mainly based on the religious paintings that revolve around Lord Jagannath at Puri's famous Jagannath Temple. Hindu gods and goddesses are also depicted in the patachitra paintings. Patachitra paintings are known for their bold lines and brilliant play of colors. It is a hereditary art practiced by the family of the painters usually living in the vicinities of the temples. Patachita paintings have an important role in the temples of Orissa. Each year, the painted wooden images of lord Jagannath alongwith Balabhadra and Shubhadra are ritually given the holy bath. Hence, they are removed from the Garbha Griha for repainting. During this period, the temple images are substituted for three patachitra paintings representing them. 

Patachitra painting has traveled across the globe and has become an art form of international repute. Patachitra folk art paintings are the application of gallant outline and gleaming presentation of colors. Raghurajpur and Dandasahi villages in the district of Puri were the only centers where the practitioners of this art lived but when temples were erected in other places in the state the artists spread in other areas like Bolangir, Sambalpur and Ganjam. 

The technique for making a patachitra painting requires skill and dedication. The artist uses fine brushes made from the hair of a mongoose or rat or coarse brushes made from the buffalo's neck. Today, the fame of Orissa Patachitras for their brilliant colors and designs has spread all across the world. That old tradition of Odishan painting still survives today in the skilled hands of the traditional painters in Puri, Raghurajpur, Paralakhemundi Chikiti and Sonepur.All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.

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