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Marwar Paintings - Style of Rajashtani arts

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 10:41 PM
In the field of paintings, Rajasthan is a wonderland and unique. Diverse varieties of traditional Rajasthani paintings adorn the art galleries and walls of all corners of the globe. Various schools of painting flourished in Rajasthan from 16th century onwards. Each school has its distinctive and unique style. Marwar is a region of southwestern Rajasthan state in western India. Marwar was an important centre of Gujarati-Jain art activities. It was at Marwar and other places such as Jodhpur, Pali and Nagaur that a variety of sub-schools of paintings developed during 17th -19th centuries. Of these, Jodhpur is the most important centre of Marwar School of paintings. Rao Jodha founded Jodhpur, the capital of Marwar in 1459. As in the other states of Rajsthan, the Jain style of painting flourished in Jodhpur in the 15th and 16th centuries. Subsequently, a folk art style became prevalent and a Ragmala series in this style was painted at Pali in 1623. The paintings in the Mughal style developed mainly under the patronage of Jaswant Singh (1638-1681) and also by his successors also up to 1750. 

The turban seen in the Marwar paintings has its own characteristics. It funnel shaped and markedly high. The faces are usually drawn in profile, and bright colors are preferred in the compositions. Spiral clouds are also shown streaming on the horizon. A large numbers of portraits, court scenes are and themes such as Baramasa are to be found in the Jodhpur style. Court paintings in Jodhpur developed greatly developed during 17th Century through the association of Marwar's Rulers with the Mughal Emperors. During the 18th and 19th centuries it evolved into a distinctive Rajasthani style, combining Mughal naturalism with local folk style and bold colors. In Nagaur, another centre of the Marwar School, we find among other subjects several important portraits executed in a markedly dignified style. 

Marwar developed a sophisticated and distinct School of Miniature Paintings. Marwar School reflected Mughal influence and nobles on horses and durbar scenes were prominent in these paintings. Between 1760 and 1780 the Mughal influence disappeared and the Rajput elements became prominent in the paintings of Jodhpur, which are characterized by linear rhythm and glowing colors. In the Marwar paintings, festivals, ceremonies, elephant fights and hunting expeditions are generally portrayed.The themes also included scenes borrowed from Lord Krishna’s life. Other popular themes were ‘Raagmala’ and ‘Gita Govinda.’

Jodhpur Style
Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan. The city is known as the Sun City for the bright and sunny weather it enjoys all year. It is also referred to as the Blue City due to the blue-painted houses around the Mehrangarh Fort. It was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, a Rajput chief of the Rathore clan. As in other states of Rajasthan, a Jain style of painting flourished in Jodhpur in the fifteenth and the sixteenth century. Jodhpur has a very strong folk tradition and here the figures are mainly robust warriors and dainty women. Paintings of the legendary lovers like Dhola-Maru on camelback, hunting scenes which included innumerable horses and elephants dominate the paintings of the Marwar region. Many paintings of the early 17th century belong to the Jodhpur style, and even though highly influenced by the Mewari style possess their original character. 

A 'Ragamala' series of 1623 was painted at Pali in a style of folk art. Paintings in Mughal style developed under the patronage of Jaswant Singh (1638-1681), who served as the Viceroy of the Mughals for Malwa, Gujarat and the Deccan. Many portraits of this ruler exist in the palace collection of Jodhpur, which indicates the presence of a considerable group of artists. Ajit Singh (1707-1724) continued the patronage of painting in the Mughal style. His successor Abhai Singh (1724-1750) was fond of dance and music and was also a keen patron of painting and literature. There is a lovely picture in the Jodhpur palace in which he is shown listening to music. The elongated female figures and oval faces reflect the Mughal style of the Muhammad Shah period. The late Jodhpur style, characterized by the lavish use of yellow, blue and green colors, spiral clouds on the horizon, reached its climax in the reign of Man Singh (1823-1843). In these paintings women wear bell-like skirts and men have side whiskers, flat-twisted turbans and accordion-pleated coats. 

The Jodhpur style is the principal style of the Marwar School, but even today a large number of paintings in this style are not available and whatever is available belongs to the early period of 19th century. Despite being influenced by the Mewar School, the Jodhpur style has its own striking feature and as a result its separate constitution comes to light. Males in this style are stoutly built and tall. Their curved mustaches, touching their throats and dress decorated with royal splendor are very impressive. Paintings in Jodhpur got a new impetus during the reigns of Ajit Singh and his successors Abhai Singh and Ram Singh, when the literary works Gita-Govinda, Dhola Maru, Raagmala, Baramasa portraits were painted in large numbers. Beautiful and attractive paintings were painted in the palace of Nagaur during the reign of Bhakhat Singh. 

Bikaner Style

Bikaner is the one of the important states of Rajasthan, which is located in the northern part of Rajasthan. It is well-known for the best riding camels in the world. This state was established in the 15th century by a chieftain Rao Bikaji. It was during the middle of the 17th century that a few artists from the Mughal School visited Bikaner and worked there under its patronized. Ali Raza, a master painter from Delhi was amongst them. The names of some of the popular Bikaner artists are Ruknuddin and his son Sahibdin, Isa, Mohammed Ibrahim and Lupha. Most of the Bikaner artists were Muslim and they worked in a style which although markedly Mughal in character, had certain distinctive features of its own. The Bikaner style is known for its fine draughtsman ship and subdued color tonalities. 


The style of the paintings developed has more Mughal elements than other schools of Rajasthani paintings. Apart from the Mughal style, the paintings of Bikaner also reflect marked influence of Deccan paintings. Influenced by the surroundings, Bikaner style paintings have their own unique style the hills and valleys, deserts, places and forts, gardens, court scenes, religious processions and vignettes from the life of Lord Krishna are recurrent themes of these paintings. During the late 18th century paintings in Bikaner grew slightly conservative and embraced the flatness and abstractions of the typically Rajasthani style. Bikaner was also an important centre of Rajasthani paintings, developed after the 17th century. Raja Rai Singh (1571-1611) was a great lover of paintings. 

Early paintings in the Bikaner style may be traced to the pictorial Bhagwad Purana painted in the time of Rai Singh (1571-1591). He himself compiled the Rai Singh Mahotsav and Jyotish Ratnak texts. The impact of the Jain school is easily discernible in the early paintings of Bikaner. The Mughal paintings of this region distinctly depict this mutual influence. Maharana Rai Singh married Jasmade, daughter of Maharana Udai Singh. His second marriage took place in Jaisalmer in 1592, hence Bhagwad Puran in Bikaner style, Madhavanal Kamkalanda (1603) compiled and painted for Kunhar Raj of Jaisalmer, and Chor Panchashika (1540) compiled by Bilhan in the Mewar style and Rag-Mala (1605) painted by Nasir Di exhibit great similarity from the angles of techniques and selection of colors. 

Because of Bikaner state's close ties with the Mughal court all salient characteristics of the Mughal style are quite visible in early paintings of the Bikaner style. Many critics therefore term it a provincial Mughal style. But drawings of slim and attractive females with eyes resembling those of deer, the frequent application of blue, green and red colors, turbans of the style of Shahjahan and Aurangzeb along with the high turbans of Marwari fashion, camels, deer and the Bikaneri style of living and the impact of Rajput culture make us believe it is a distinct style. Most of the paintings are made on the Ramayana, on the Mahabharata, lord Krishna legends, Ragmala and love scenes of Radha and Krishna. In Bikaner style paintings, hunting scenes paintings, miniature and wall paintings are also made. Human figure with little tight lips, eyes half open, small chin, very thin wrist, under developed chest and men’s moustaches a little downwards are some features of the Bikaner style paintings.

Kishangarh Style paintings
Kishangarh is a city and a municipality in Ajmer district in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It was founded by Kishan Singh, a younger brother of Raja Sur Singh of Jodhpur in circa 1609 and is the birth place of the Kishangarh style of paintings, which is known for the beautiful depiction of a courtesan known as Bani Thani. Bani Thani was the mistress of Raja Sawant Singh of Kishangarh in Rajasthan. She was a quintessential Indian beauty with her elongated face with a high forehead, arched eyebrows, half opened eyes, sharp pointed nose, thin curved sensuous lips and a pointed chin over a long narrow neck. The curl of the hair around the ear added to her innate grace. She was the inspiration of the image of Radha of Kishangarh School of paintings. Besides being blessed with natural beauty she was also a talented poetess and singer. 

The Kishangarh School of paintings is clearly distinguished by its individualistic facial type and religious intensity. Kishangarh paintings emerged as a distinctive style in the middle of 18th century under the patronage of Maharaja Sawant Singh. Raja Sawant Singh, the king of Kishangarh, was on the throne during that period. A great patron of art and literature as he was, he composed devotional songs in praise of Radha and Krishna using the pseudonym of Nagari Das. Typical characteristics of Kishangarh paintings are portraits of women with sharp profiles, long necks, slanted eyes and aquiline noses. The colors used are almost jewel-like and green is one of the predominant shades used. Kishangarh is picturesquely situated by a lake and its fort and palace overlook the waters. Artists of this school have beautifully depicted palace, fort, lake, bridges, gardens and Kishangarh town in the background of their paintings. 

The rulers of Kishangarh worshipped lord Krishna. So many painters of this school portrayed lord and his consort, Radha. However, while in other Folk Paintings, the couple is usually depicted in the forest, Kishangarh paintings always show Radha and Krishna in their palace or court. Kishangarh style of painting occupies a significant position in relation to Rajasthani paintings. In the developed state of the Marwar School the Kishangarh style had acquired its unique and glorious position in the realm of Rajasthani painting after having ascended to the pinnacle of glory in the time of Maharaja Sawant Singh. Bhavani Das was a renowned painter who developed a style that bloomed during the reign of Maharaja Sawant Singh. 

The Kishangarh style has its own combination of colors. To express tender sentiments of Radha-Krishna artists often used light colors. The principal colors were white, rose, cream and deep red. The Kishangarh style possesses some distinct features which maintain its unique identity. Drawings of limbs of males and females, colorful paintings of nature, illustrations of themes connected with the Radha-Krishna cult are some distinct features of this style. Male figures are tall, of attractive physique with blue aura-like bunch as of hair, elevated turbans, with strings of pearls in white or blue, symmetrically developed forehead, thin lips and wide and attractive eyes stretched to the ears like khanjan birds are some unique features of the Kishangarh style. Female figures are fair in complexion, and their wide eyes are adorned with kohl. The natural perspective of Kishangarh and Roopangarh was endowed with lakes, mountains, gardens and various birds. 

Kishangarh style of paintings was basically a fusion of Mughal and regional style. The most common theme of this style consisted of the depiction of the love between lord Krishna and Radha. With the demise of Maharaja Sawant Singh and his leading artists, this school lost its glory and started breaking down. By and by the eternal quality of the Kishangarh style began to lose its distinct character. Its deterioration began to be visible in paintings in the reign of Prithvi Singh (1840-1880). After this period, the Kishangarh style was lost in oblivion.All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.
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