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Handicrafts are devices or works of art that are made completely by hand or by the use of relatively simple tools. Such goods are usually made in the traditional way of manufacturing goods. Therefore, the knowledge of the art of craft is usually passed down from one generation to another. The items made using these traditional methods of manufacturing are usually produced in smaller quantities and they often represent the culture or religious beliefs of the community that makes them. The goods are also handmade from natural materials that are found in the environment of the particular economy.

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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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Introduction on Rashtrakuta

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 2:25 AM 0 comments
Dancer Chola In the eighth century, the Early Western Chalukya power came to an end and the Rashtrakutas under Dantidurga asserted themselves. Dantidurga was followed by his uncle Krishna I who was not only a great ruler but was the creator of an undoubtedly unique monument in the Deccan, the Kailasanatha temple at Ellora, carved out of living rock. The glory of this monument has an effective description in the Baroda grant of Karka Suvarnavarsha. It is here given that 'a gaze at this wonderful temple on the mountain of Elapura makes the astonished immortals, coursing the sky in celestial cars, always wonder whether "this is surely the abode of Svayambhu Siva and not an artificially made (building). Has ever greater beauty been seen?" Verily even the architect who built it felt astonished, saying, "The utmost perseverance would fail to accomplish such a work again. Ah! how has it been achieved by me?" and by reason of it, the king was caused to praise his name.

Krishna had thus paid a tribute to the aesthetic taste of Vikramaditya, a scion of the vanquished dynasty, as also an appreciation of the earlier defeated southern power at Kanchi, which was the source of this artistic appeal. The Kailasa temple was fashioned after the Pattadakal temples which in turn were executed by a great sutradhari named Sarvasiddhiacharya of the southern country, the subjugated area from Kanchi.

Flying Vidyadharas  The remarkable similarity in details noticed in the Kailasa temples at Ellora and Kanchi made Professor Jouveau Dubreuil look for and discover paintings in the latter; how he found the clue to these in the former and how amply his search bore fruit is only too well known, though the paintings may be fragmentary.

The paintings at Ellora cover the ceilings and walls of the mandapas and represent not only the iconographic forms but also the lovely floral designs and animals and birds entwining in the patterns. The beautiful elephant amidst a lotus pattern in gorgeous colour now partially faded is as lively as probably some of the other figure drawings. The Nataraja here is a splendid example of the Chalukya type and has to be compared with the earlier one at Badami. The figure is multiarmed and the dance is in the chatura pose. The anatomy of figure, the details and the ornamentation closely follow that of sculpture, including such minute details as the pattern of the jatamakuta, the elaboration of decoration and so forth. It is one of the most beautifully preserved panels at Ellora. The figure of Lakshminarayana on Garuda is also interesting. In this can be noticed the peculiar eyes and the pointed nose in the three-quarter view which later became a distinguishing feature of the western Indian paintings from Gujarat of the fourteenth-fifteenth centuries A.D.

Heavenly musiciansFlying Vidyadharas with their consorts, against a back-ground of trailing clouds, musical figures and other themes closely follow the earlier Chalukya tradition. A comparison of these Vidyadhara figures with similar ones from the Badami caves of an earlier date would clearly reveal this. The colour patterns, the composing of one dark against another fair, the muktayajnopavita of the male and the elaborate dhammilla of the female figure, the flying attitude, etc., are all incomparable. The Jain cave towards the end of the group of caves at Ellora has its entire surface of ceiling and wall covered with paintings with a wealth of detail. There are scenes illustrating Jain texts and decorative patterns with exuberant floral, animal and bird designs. These, along with the cave, are to be dated a century after the Kailasa temple, the great monument of the Rashtrakuta, Krishna.

Writer – C.Sivaramamurti

Religious Songs of Mirabai

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 2:47 AM 0 comments

Pray, some one, convey to Him, my......

Mirabai PaintingPray, some one, convey to Him, my
message to come.

The glad tidings to come, the happy news
to come.
Neither comes He nor sendeth any news.
He hath acquired the habit to torment me.
Alack, howsoever I plead, these eyes came
not for my reproach.

Flow they as the streams in the rains.
What can I do, it is beyond me.
The wings I do not possess, wherewith to
fly o'er to Him.

Prays Mira, when will you meet her?
Fallen a victim is she to Thy snares.

I know not, the manner in which the.....

I know not, the manner in which the
Mirabai PaintingBeloved to meet.

My Beloved came and from the
courtyard returned.

As I, the unlucky one, lay asleep.

Accursed I, my garments I shall tear, and
the msset don,
A mendicant shall I turn, seeking Him.
I shall the sign of my consorthood, my
bangles, break, and the partings of my
hair disturb.
And the collyrium of my eyes, I shall
wash away.
For every moment the agony of separation
troubles me,
Not for a second can I secure peace.
Of Mira, the Lord is the Protector,
Mind, once you meet Him, take care,
You do not leave Him.

Writer – Bankey Behari

Rajasthani Painting

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 2:20 AM 0 comments
A Samant (Raja Papuji)
Because of its unique geographical, historical and cultural background, Rajas-than has earned much fame. On one hand, there are the high peaks of the Aravalli Hills, valleys with green vegetation and the beauty of nature, while on the other hand are large expanses of desert.

In the annals of Indian history, this territory had ever belonged to brave men and dedicated women. Different tribes, their way of living, style of dress, and cultural charm are unique and colourful. In one direction are the impregnable forts of Ranthambor, Chittor and Jaisalmer, while in another are the ancient and artistic temples of Dilwara, Ranakpur, Mandore, Paranagar and Badoli.

In a third direction tall palaces and other buildings, symbols of feudal glory, exist. In still another are huts built according to folk art style and belonging to Bhil tribes, Meenas and Girasias. Public figures decked out in colourful costumes are another highlight of this state. Architecture, iconography, music, literature and paintings of this region possess significant characteristics. Rajasthan is undoubtedly a glorious land of artists.

In the domain of world painting India occupies a unique and honourable place. Buddhist and Jain art in the styles of Pal, Gujarat, Apbhransh-Rajasthani, Mughal and Pahari have ever kept intact the traditions of Indian painting since the 2nd century A.D. till the present day. In this series of paintings Rajasthani art, adopting the traditions of Ajanta has developed its own unique cultural perspective and history.


Rasik priyaWith regard to the nomenclature of Rajasthani painting, scholars hold varied opinion. Some call it Rajput painting and others Rajasthani painting. Ananda Coomaraswamy was the first scholar who scientifically classified Rajasthani painting in his book titled Rajput Painting in 1916.

According to him, the theme of Rajput painting relates to Rajputana and the hill states of Punjab. He divided it into two parts, Rajasthani concerning Rajputana and Pahari relating to the hill states of Jammu, Kangra, Garhwal, Basohli, Chamba. The administrators of these states, often belonging to the Rajput clan, had termed these paintings Rajput.

According to Coomaraswamy, Rajasthani painting spread widely from Bikaner to the border of Gujarat and from Jodhpur to Gwalior and Ujjain. Amber, Aurachha, Udaipur, Bikaner and Ujjain had earned the reputation of being centres of artistic activities. But contrary to this view, Raikrishan Dass opines:

Dr Swami had classified traditional Indian painting in two parts, the Rajput and Mughal styles, but there is no substance in identifying it as Rajput style. Even though the Rajputs were a ruling class, the cumulative effect of such a clan could not influence the style of art which had different centres in the whole country.

Basil Grey comments: "Rajputana has been a centre of diverse princely indigenous states, but the expansion of Rajasthani painting had taken place from Bundelkhand to Gujarat and states ruled by Pahari Rajputs, that is why the name Rajput painting seems plausible."' Vachaspati Garrola had recognised only Rajasthani painting under the auspices of the Rajput style of painting, which seems to be more ambiguous.

Kartik MassAccording to these arguments, all paintings of the Rajasthani school could be placed under the Rajput style. The region termed Rajputana under British rule has after independence been named Rajasthan with little variation. Before the advent of the British this whole state could have been known by a single name, but no substantial evidence could be produced to uphold this view. Only Col Tod named this region Rayathan or Rajasthan. But British officers often used to call it Rajputana. Hence we treat Rajasthani painting as that style which is an eternal heritage of this state. Many connoisseurs of art who had given this style various names like Raikrishan Dass, Ram Gopal Vijayavargia, Karl Khandalawala, Dr Moti Chandra, Kr. Sangram Singh and Ananda Coomaraswamy deserve special mention here.

Origin and Development

Details regarding the place of birth of Rajasthani painting, and the time and history of circumstances concerning its development, are not yet known. By having compiled books pertaining to many styles of Rajasthani painting different scholars have unfolded the history of the 17th century and its aftermath, but their earlier history is riven with contradictions. Art expert Herman Goetz observes: "Hardly a year or half passes but new findings about Rajasthani painting thoroughly alter our old conceptions. Particularly, the latest knowledge about Mewar paintings has raised many question marks."

On the basis of earlier views Western scholars had recognised that the Rajasthani style flourished in various princely states after the downfall of the Mughal Empire. Some scholars however hold the view that it was merely an offshoot of Mughal painting, and prospered in the reign of Jehangir. On the strength of new researches undertaken and opinions formed years ago these views have been dismissed.

Kartik Mass
Hence these views, also expressed by Dr Coomaraswamy, do not appear appropriate even though historically they are highly significant!' With reference to the parameters regarding the antiquity of Rajasthani paintings, Dr Goetz presented his research papers, which throw light on its history.' Karl Khandalawala discussed in detail the origin and development of this painting.

Great scholars like Raikrishan Dass, Pramod Chandra, Sangram Singh, Satya Prakash, Anand Krishan, Hiren Mukherji and others also published scholarly articles from time to time which highlight details of the origin and growth of Rajasthani painting. On the basis of this research and many available ancient paintings it is now generally admitted that Rajasthani painting is a significant link with traditional Indian painting.

Tibetan historian Tara Nath (16th century) refers to an artist named Shri Rangdhar who lived in Maru Pradesh (Marwar) in the 7th century but paintings of this period are not available. The period from the 6th century to the 12th century was a great landmark in the history of Rajasthan. From the 8th to the 10th centuries this province was termed Gurjaratra, hence with the development of art and other vocations painting might have flourished here. Among available compilations, pictorial Kalpa-Sutra authored by Bhadrabhau Swami in V.S. 1216 is the oldest available artistic text of India."

In Rajasthan the first available pictorial text (on palm leaves) is Savag-Pailikahan Sutt Chuniii (Shravak Pratikraman Sutra Churni), compiled in the reign of Cubit Tej Singh at Ahar (Udaipur). Glimpses of his decorations are enshrined in intricate carvings in the temples of Nagda and Chittor." Another important text is Supasnah Chariyam (Suparshvanath Charitam) which was painted and compiled in the reign of Mokkhal at Devkulpatak (Dilwara) in V.S. 1480 (A.D. 1422-23).

In this text the influence of the Gujarat and Jain styles on Rajasthani paintings is discernible. In the continuity of this style KaIpa-Sutrii of 1426 deserves special mention. Its style of draping costumes is similar to that of the images of Vijaya Stambha of Maharana Kumbha. Around A.D. 1450 one copy of Geet-Gvvind and two of Bal-Gvpal-Stuti had been painted in Western India. This is the first pictorial text of Lord Krishna which comprises the first seeds of preliminary Rajasthani painting.

Maharaja Kumar Raj SinghIn 1451 Basant-Vilas painted in the Apbhransh style, whose famous background script was compiled by Acharya Ratnagiri in Ahmedabad, makes special mention of the origin of Rajasthani painting. In the history of Mewar, Maharana Kumbha (1433-1468) had been highly acclaimed for having patronised poetry, music and architecture. That such a great lover of the arts remained indifferent to painting is not plausible. But in the absence of proof no concrete conclusion could be inferred. Only a glimpse of frescoes could be visualised in the ruins of the fort of Kumbhalgarh and the palace of Chittorgarh of that period.

Up to the 15th century this style of painting flourished in Rajasthan. Using Jain and later Jain texts as the basis on which the painting was done, this may be termed the Jain style, Gujarat style, Western India style or Apbhransh style. Undoubtedly, the period from the 7th century to the 15th century saw an era of impressive growth of painting, iconography and architecture in Rajasthan developed from the synthesis of original art and the traditions of Ajanta-Ellora. From this point no distinction had ever been made between the Rajasthan and Gujarat styles. In the regions of Bangur and Chhappan, many artists from Gujarat had settled and were known as Sompuras. During the reign of Maharana Kumbha, the legendary artist Shilpi Mandan migrated here from Gujarat."

After analysing the abovementioned pictorial texts from the 12th century to the 15th century, it could be established that such paintings contained the seeds of the Rajasthani styles of painting. The basis of most of these paintings is Jain texts. In these paintings faces are savachashma, noses resembling that of Garuda, tall but stiff figures, highly embossed breasts, mechanical movements and poses, clouds, trees, mountains and rivers are depicted. Red and yellow colours have been used frequently.

It is difficult to tell where preliminary Rajasthani painting flourished in the 15th century, but on the basis of other pictorial texts it may be stated that the amended form of Rajasthani painting of that age had developed with some distinct features. Adi Puran, decorated with 417 paintings, was a text in the Gujarati style compiled in 1540. It was a beacon in the annals of Indian painting.

Dussehra Darbar
Although influenced by Apbhransh style, this text, symbolic of Rajasthani painting in respect of colour drawing, physical structure, depiction of nature, dress, expression of sentiment, enjoys a prestigious position. Avadhi poetry Mrigvati (decorated with 250 paintings) and pictorial lorchande belong to this category of text. In the pictorial texts of Sanghrani-Sutra (1583) and Uttaradliyan Sutra (1591), mention was made that a revised form of Rajasthani painting had been created.

In pictorial Chorpancha-Sika and Geet-Govind texts of that age, this school of painting was appreciably represented. Regarding Rajasthani paintings, two very significant texts are available. They are based on the Bhagwad.

The first in 1598 and the other" in 1610 had probably been painted somewhere in Rajasthan. In them developed the shape of Rajasthani painting with its special characteristics that had emerged. Rag-Ma1a24 pictures painted by Nasiruddin at Chavand, capital of Maharana Pratap, are the first available specimens of paintings solely created on the soil of Rajasthan. Traditions of the later period are noticed in the Mewar school.

On the basis of these facts I submit that the birthplace of Rajasthani painting was only Rajasthan, and Medapat (Mewar) was its centre of growth. In reality the Rajasthani style was a new development of the Apbhransh style. In other words, in place of the process of decline taking place in the 9th-10th centuries, a phase of development had begun in the 15th century. This revival might have taken place in Gujarat and southern Rajasthan (Mewar). Other leading scholars identify Mewar with the origin and growth of Rajasthani painting. Dr Goetz also firmly holds this opinion.

Dhola & MaaruThose tracts come under the hill states of Mewar, Banswara and Eder in southern Rajasthan which were ruled by the Suryavanshi dynasty from ancient times. These rulers continued to carry the torch of Indian culture even after the disintegration of the 'Gupta Empire. Hence these rulers had absorbed the high traditions of Ajanta and Ellora up to the medieval age.

The beginning of the pure Rajasthani style has been fixed between the latter half of the 15th century and the early part of the 16th century, probably around 1500. The Rajasthani style emerged from the Apbliransh style in Gujarat and was influenced by the Kashmir style in the 15th century. Some such paintings have been found in which the impact of the Mughal style is nowhere discernible. The Bengali Ragini paintings of Bharat Kala Bha wan is one of them. The above view of Raikrishan Dass seems authentic today as at the time Rajasthani painting was taking shape Babar, grandfather of Akbar and founder of the Mughal Empire in India, was born in 1463. Mehmood Begra, Sultan of Gujarat, and Maharana Kumbha both earned great reputation as keen lovers of art. In the same period painting had attained its zenith in Kashmir in the reign of Jainul Abdin, when probably a cultural exchange between friendly states might have taken place.

Because of the emergence of the Rajasthani style in Gujarat and Mewar the dormant consciousness of Indian painting awakened. It was a new version of the Apbhransh style. From the point of expression of sentiments and depiction of drawings, even though the Rajput style had emerged in its unique perspective, in selection of theme it had faithfully followed the Apbhransh style. Very artistic paintings depicting Rag-Mala, Shringar, descriptions of Barah-Masa and Krishna-Lila were the contribution of the Rajput style, which had its origin in the Apbhransh style."

Some scholars recognise the Gujarati style as the mother of Rajasthani painting and its guiding spirit. Pramod Chandra says: "Gujarat was a principal centre where Rajasthani painting acquired its prominent status . . ." Shri Manju La! Ranchhor Dass Majumdar observes: "The Gujarat style gave birth to the Rajput style, that rare beauty visible in drawings of mountain, river, sea, fire, cloud, tree in the Rajput style originated from the Gujarat style."

Ruler of GaneraoIn regard to the impact of Jam art, many scholars stress the view that it made a significant contribution to the growth of Hindu-Rajput art. Jain art was responsible for incorporating creeper foliage in Indian painting. Later, having surrendered the traditional heritance to the Rajput style, Jain art was lost in oblivion. Dr Yajdani comments: "Jain art does not represent the best art of its period." Hence it is argued that it might have surrendered its traditions to the Rajput style, but it would be a great blunder on our part to admit this view.

Rajasthani painting originated in the state of Rajasthan alone. Having been greatly influenced by other styles of painting, it flourished greatly in this state. In its growth the ancient history of the state and its geography played a major role. On the heroic soil of the Rajputs, evidence of their chivalrous deeds and the imprint of their civilization and culture in the shape of poetry, painting, and architecture are scattered here and there.


The origin and development of Rajasthani painting, like many other schools, did not take place in one area, nor was it cultivated by only a few artists. In all ancient towns and religious and cultural centres of Rajasthan painting blossomed and flourished. Royal courts, religious centres, rulers, feudal lords made a valuable contribution to the growth of Rajasthani painting, which reached its pinnacle of glory in the 17th-18th centuries after having enriched the styles and substyles of other erstwhile states, as a result of which its coordinated shape came into existence.

In regard to the classification of Rajasthani styles, scholars hold divergent views. Artists of different states who painted in their own styles conform to local condi-tions. The distinct characteristic of painting thus produced has been termed the style of that particular region. In this way, several styles came into prominence in Rajasthan, notably the Mewar, Marwar, Kishangarh, Bundi, Kota, Jaipur, and Alwar schools had achieved great ascendancy.

Megha Malhar RagaDr Moti Chandra mainly recognises the Mewar, Bundi and Kishangarh schools. Scholars like Dr Goetz, Karl Khandalawala, Ram Gopal Vijayavargia, Kumar Sangram Singh added more styles and substyles pertaining to Marwar, Bikaner, Kota, Jaipur, Uniara and Devgarh etc. In 1969 I worked on the authenticity of Alwar style.

From the point of geographical and administrative conditions, Rajasthani painting may be studied after classifying it in four parts. In actual practice it has four principal schools in which many styles and substyles flourished and influenced each other:

(1) The Mewar school comprising Chavand, Udaipur, Devgarh, Nathdwara, Sawar styles and substvles.

(2) The Marwar school comprising Jodhpur, Bikaner, Kishangarh, Jaisalmer, Pali, Naugore, Ghanerao styles and substyles.

(3) The Hadoti school comprising Bundi, Kota, Jhalawar styles and substyles.

4) The Dhundar school comprising Amber, Jaipur, Shekhawati, Uniara, Alwar styles and substyles.

Having placed the styles and substyles of the whole of Rajasthan within the purview of the above schools, a detailed study of them could be undertaken. In the medieval age it was quite natural for the small and big states of Rajasthan and the neighbouring states to influence each other in the domain of culture.

Writer – Jay Singh Neeraj


The Mughal School Painting

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 3:06 AM 0 comments
Court of AlamgirIn 1526 Babur, a minor prince from Transoxiana descended from both Tamerlane and Chingiz Khan, culminated a lifetime of restless wanderings and short-lived conquests by invading India. He founded a dynasty whose autocratic power and luxurious display became proverbial as far away as England. Although its decline was to be lengthy, it endured in name at least until the banishment of the last Emperor by the British in 1858. For much of this period the cultural interests and fashions of the imperial court exercised a pervasive influence throughout the provinces, and not least on the art of painting.

Babur himself died in 1530, soon after his conquest. He is not known to have patronised painting during his turbulent career, but he did leave behind a remarkable volume of memoirs, whose observations of man and nature reveal an original and inquiring mind. During the reign of his bookish and ineffectual son Humayun (153o-56) the still insecure empire was lost for a time to the Pathan chief Sher Shah. Humayun was driven into exile at the court of Shah Tahmasp of Persia, who, after a carefree youth distinguished by inspired artistic patronage, was turning towards religious orthodoxy and a greater attention to matters of state. Humayun was thus able to take two of the finest Persian painters, Mir Sayyid Ali and Abd us-Samad, into his service. They accompanied him on his re-turn to Delhi in 1555, where he died only a few months later after a fall on his library staircase.

Woman Playing with Firework
The achievement of consolidating the empire and shaping its distinctive cultural traditions belonged to Akbar (1556-1605), the third and greatest of the Mughal emperors. He possessed not only the mental acuteness of Babur but an all-embracing imperial vision and colossal physical energy with which to fulfil it. By arms and diplomacy he extended the empire and made allies of the powerful Rajputs. More than any earlier Muslim ruler, he had a receptive and tolerant intellect. Many of his generals, courtiers, wives, poets and artists were Hindus. His strong religious experiences led him to an open-minded debate with representatives of all the known faiths, including Zoroastrians, Jews and Jesuit priests. Disappointed by the animosity of these clerics, he typically chose to found an eclectic and short-lived religion centred on his own person.

Painting 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, but the delicate refinement of the Safavid manner did not satisfy his youthful exuberance. 

Dara Shikhon with Sages in a GardenEarly in his reign he set the two Persians to direct a newly recruited studio that grew to some two hundred native artists. Under his constant supervision the early Mughal style was thus formed from the fusion of Persian elegance and technique with the Indian vitality and feeling for natural forms admired by Akbar. The studio's most grandiose project, taking fifteen years to complete, was a series of 1400 large illustrations on cloth to the romance of Amir Hamza, a prolix but action-packed adventure story which was a favourite of the young Akbar. Accord-ing to one Mughal historian he would himself act as a story-teller, narrating Hainza's adventures to the inmates of his zenana (harem). In a typical, the decorative Persian tile patterns and arabesques stand in contrast to the vigorously painted trees, rocks, gesticulating figures and gory victims of the leering dragon.

By the time of the Hanizanama's completion in the late 157os, the Akbari style was reaching its maturity. A stream of smaller and less copiously illustrated manuscripts of Persian prose and verse classics was produced in a blander but more integrated idiom. In the last twenty years of Akbar's reign his interest turned to illustrated histories of his own life and those of his Timurid ancestors. At least five copies of Babur's memoirs were made, as well as three of the Akbarnama, Abtel Fazl's official history of his reign. As unequivocal propaganda, these and other commissions formed part of his imperial design, for they documented and legitimised what was in Indian terms still only a parvenu dynasty. The artists were more than ever required to record the court life around them in a spirit of dramatic realism. It is unlikely that the painter Khem Karan would have witnessed the siege of the Rajput fortress of Ranthainbor some twenty years previously, but his portrayal of Akbar, dressed in white, directing the attack from a promontory set against a hazy sky is a convincing presentation of the event. 

Akbar Restrains hawa'i an Enraged elephant and SpectatorsThat this realism was to some extent based on a selective study of European models is shown by an illustration to the Harivamsa, one of the Hindu mythological texts which Akbar had ordered Badauni to translate into Persian, to that scholar's pious disgust. Krishna sweeps down on the bird Garuda to triumph over Indra on his elephant, watched by gods and celestial beings. The billowing clouds and swirling draperies have Baroque antecedents, while the coastal landscape with a European boat derives from Flemish art. Abu'l Fazl, besides echoing his master's praise of Hindu artists, whose 'pictures surpass our conception of things', refers also to 'the wonderful works of the European painters, who have attained world-wide fame'. He more-over tells us of an album prepared for Akbar which contained portraits of himself and his courtiers. This was the first time in Indian art that portraiture of the Western type, treating its subject as an individual character rather than as a socially or poetically determined type, had been so systematically pursued.

In the reign of Jahangir (16o5-27) the imperial studio was reduced to an elite group of the best painters, who attended the Emperor both in court and camp to carry out his commissions. Manuscript illustration gave way to the production of fine individual pictures, whose subject matter reflected Jahangir's enthusiasms and foibles. Jahangir was a fickle character, capable both of generosity and cruelty. Inheriting a well established empire, he never developed Akbar's gifts as a statesman, and as his prodigious consumption of opium and alcohol gradually enfeebled him, the administration passed out of his hands. He also lacked Akbar's profound religious sense, being guided instead by a highly developed aestheticism. As a connoisseur of the arts, he boasts justifiably in his memoirs of his ability to distinguish even tiny details painted by different artists. 

Mughal LoveHe was also passionately curious about the forms and behavior of plants and animals, and it has been remarked that he might have been a better and happier man as the head of a natural history museum. When in 1612 a turkey cock was brought in a consignment of rarities purchased from the Portuguese in Goa, Jahangir as usual wrote up his observations, being particularly fascinated by its head and neck: 'like a chameleon it constantly changes colour'. His flower and animal artist, Mansur, known as 'Wonder of the Age', recorded the new specimen, rendering each feather and fold of skin with minute brushwork, against a plain background relieved only by (discoloured) streaks and a conventional row of flowers.

The same qualities of dispassionate delineation and static, pattern-making composition informed the now dominant art of portraiture. Jahangir was proud of his artists' ability to emulate the technique of the English miniatures shown to him by the ambassador Sir Thomas Roe, and was delighted when Roe was at first unable to distinguish between an original miniature and several Mughal copies. The effect on Mughal painting was both refining and somewhat chilling. A scene of Jahangir receiving his son Parviz and courtiers in durbar has been skilfully assembled from individual portrait studies and stock pictorial elements such as the fountain, the simplified palace architecture, the cypress and flowering cherry' and the Flemish-inspired landscape. 

Mughal LoveIn this deliberate compilation there is none of the movement and interaction of figures of Akbar painting. Each finely portrayed face gazes forward in expressionless isolation an attitude which is, however, appropriate for the solemn formality of the durbar. The painting can be attributed to Manohar, the son of the great Akbari artist Basawan, who had developed a vigorous modelling technique and sense of space from European sources. In deference to Jahangir’s taste, these skills were modified by his son, who presents the outward show of imperial life, crystallized in elegant patterns and richly detailed surfaces.

Court portraiture under Shah Jahan (1627-58), exemplified by the Padshahnama, the illustrated history of his reign now at Windsor Castle, and became still more formal and frigid. Each durbar, battle or procession is a grand compilation of countless individual portraits, painted with a hard, immaculate finish. The effect is magnificent but heartless and strangely unanimated. Shah jahan's real passion Was for jewels and architecture: on these he lavished much of the wealth of the empire, combining them above all in the justly celebrated Taj Mahal. Album paintings of varied subjects were, however, still produced, such as a genre scene of an informal musical party by Bichitr, an artist best known for his accomplished portraiture and cool palette. The painting is in fact an exercise in the style of Govardhan, another Hindu and one of the most gifted of all Mughal painters, excelling at keenly observed group portraits of common people and particularly of holy men as well as kings.

Love gamesIn 1658 Shah Jahn was deposed by his third son, the pious and puritanical Aurangzeb, and Dara Shikuh, the more free-thinking and artistically inclined heir apparent, was put to death. During his long reign (1658-1707) Aurangzeb further dissipated the empire's resources, not like his father by immoderate luxury and building projects, but by interminable military campaigns in the Deccan. The court arts languished for want of patronage, and from 168o onwards many painters took service at provincial courts. A urangzeb was followed in the 18th century by a succession of effete incompetents who maintained an illusory show of power while the empire broke up. The sybaritic Muhammad Shah (1719-48), who when told of some defeat would console himself by contemplating his gardens, was typical of the age. In 1739 he endured the humiliating sack of Delhi by Nadir Shah of Persia. A nautch (dancing-party) scene in his zenana shows signs of the brittle rigidity and vapid sensuality of late Mughal painting, which preserved much of the technique of the mid-17th century style, but had little new to say. The emperors after Akbar had insulated themselves within the increasingly formal and introverted microcosm of court life. 

Love CoupleGiven inspired patronage, painting had for a time flourished in this hot-house atmosphere, but when the empire was played out it too gradually declined into a repetition of well worn themes, both at Delhi and at the provincial courts of Lucknow and Murshidabad. After Clive's victory in Bengal in 1757, British power began to spread across northern India, and by the early 19th century Delhi artists were emulating the style of painting favoured by the new imperialists. A nautch party of this period is set in a European mansion with classical columns and pediments. The figures also arc in the Europeanised 'Company' style, but the Indian artist has, resourcefully as ever, transformed the alien conventions of modelling and recession into his own umistakable idiom.

Writer – Andrew Topsfeld

The Literary and Religious Background of painting

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 3:40 AM 1 comments
 Summer India has a tradition of love poetry stretching back almost to the age of the Vedas. In its earlier phase it found expression in Sanskrit and later on in Prakrit and Hindi. The love charms of the Atharva are said to mark the beginning of erotic poetry. In the Rigveda, Usha, the goddess of Dawn, is compared to a maiden who unveils her bosom to her lover. This was a period when Sanskrit was the living language of a virile people and had not fossilised into a language of the learned. In Valmikes Ramayana, the dawn is treated as a loving maiden: `Ah that the enamoured twilight should lay aside her garment of sky, now that the stars are quickened to life by the touch of the rays of the dancing moon'.

Among the earliest specimens of Sanskrit kavya are the works of the Buddhist poet and philosopher, Asvaghosha (c. A.D. 100). His poem, the Saundarananda, deals with the legend of the conversion of his half-brother, Nanda, by the Buddha. In canto iii, the poet describes the beauty of Sundari, Nanda's wife and compares her to a lotus pond, with her laughter for the swans, her eyes for the bees, and her swelling breasts for the uprising lotus buds. The perfection of her union with Nanda, he describes as of the night with the moon. 

Radha and KrishnaThe Hindu Sritigara literature, both in Sanskrit and Hindi, has its roots in Bharata's Natyagastra, a treatise on dramaturgy. Poetry, music, and dance were necessary components of a Hindu drama, and as such the book deals also with poetics, music and the language of gesture. According to Manmohan Ghosh, the available text of the Natyagastra existed in the second century A.D., while the tradition which it recorded may go back to a period as early as 100 B.C. It is composed in verse in the form of a dialogue between Bharata and some ancient sages. Apart from Sanskrit, the Natyagastra also gives examples of Prakrit verses. It is the earliest writing on poetics, contains discussion on figures of speech, mentions the qualities and faults of a composition, and describes varieties of metre. In relation to ars amatoria it mentions Kamasasra and Kamatantra, but there is no reference to Vatsyayana's Kamasatra, which was composed much later.

The doctrine of rasa or flavor, and bhavas or emotions, was also enunciated in the Natyasastra. As the tastes of food are produced by salt, spices or sugar, the dominant states (sthayibhava), when they come together with other states (bhava) become sentiments. As an epicurean tastes food by eating, so learned people taste in their mind the dominant states or sentiments. The aesthetic experience is described by Bharata as the tasting of flavour (rasasvadana), the taster is rasika, and the work of art is rasavant. Of the eight emotional conditions, the sringarrasa, or erotic flavour, whose underlying emotions are love or desire, is the most important. It is the erotic sentiment which is the basis of the most beautiful art, whether poetry or painting.

The Gopis are bathingThe subtle classification of woman according to mood, sentiment and situation, called mayika-bheda, which was refined and elaborated by a succession of poets and rhetoricians, also has its origin in the Natyasastra. The eight-fold classification of heroines or nayikas is given, and female messengers, their qualities and functions are described. This is followed by the theme of mana and mana-mochana.

Sanskrit was no longer a spoken language by the close of the first century A.D. The languages of the people were Prakrits which at later stages evolved into the modern regional languages. Lyric poetry found its first and best expression in the Prakrits. 'One reason for the excellence of these little poems', says Grierson, 'is their almost invariable truth to nature, and the cause of this is that from the first they have been rooted in village life and language, and not in the pandit-fostering circles of the towns." The oldest and most admired anthology is the Sapta-sataka or the Seven Centuries of Hala, who flourished somewhere during the period A.D. 200 to 450 in Maharashtra. There are charming genre pictures, describing the farmers, hunters, cowherds and cowherdesses in these Prakrits lyrics. Hala's poetry is close to the soil and the people of the land. There are vivid pictures of nature and the seasons. Bees hover over flowers, peacocks enjoy the rain-showers while the female antelope seeks her mate longingly. The grief of a woman waiting for her lover is thus described:

"Waiting for you, the first half of the night
passed like a moment. 
The rest was like a year, 
for I was sunk in grief."

The Lover's unitedThe prevailing tone is gentle and pleasing', observes Keith, 'simple love set among simple scenes, fostered by the seasons, for even winter brings lovers close together, just as a rain-storm drives them to shelter with each other. The maiden begs the moon to touch her with the rays which have touched her beloved; she begs the night to stay for ever, since the morn is to see her beloved's departure.

Sanskrit, though it continued as the language of literature for a long time, reached its zenith in the period from the fifth to seventh centuries. In the sensuous poems of India's greatest poet, Kalidasa (fl. 5th century A.D.), Sanskrit romantic poetry reaches its most elegant expression.

In the Sringarasataka or Century of Love of Bhartrihari (fl. 7th century A.D.), are brilliant pictures of the beauty of women, and of the joys of love in union. There are two other centuries of verses by him, viz. the Century of Worldly Wisdom, and the Century of Renunciation. The titles of his collections of poems also reflect the fickleness of the author who seven times became a Buddhist monk and seven times relapsed into worldly life. He regards woman as poison enclosed in a shell of sweetness, and considers her beauty a snare which distracts man from his true goal, which is the calm of meditation. He ultimately comes to the conclusion that the best life is one of solitude and contemplation:

"When I was ignorant in the dark night of passion
thought the world completely made of women,
but now my eyes are cleansed with the salve of wisdom,
and my clear vision sees only God in everything." 

AblutionIn the seventh century flourished Mayura, who was a contemporary of Harsha-vardhana. He thus describes a young woman who is returning after a night's revel with her lover: 'Who is this timid gazelle, burdened with firm swelling breasts, slender-waisted and wild-eyed, who hath left the startled herd? She goeth in sport as if fallen from the temples of an elephant in rut. Seeing her beauty even an old man turns to thoughts of love."

Amaru who flourished between 650 and 750 A.D. describes the relation of lovers in his Century of Stanzas, the Amarusataka. The relations of lovers, which later writers of poetics described in the form of Ashtanayikas, and Mana are delightfully narrated in his gay verses.

Vatsyayana's Kamasutra, which is probably older than Kalidasa, was studied eagerly by the Sanskrit poets along with grammar, lexicography and poetics. Sriharsha, the author of the Naishadhacharita, who flourished in the second half of the twelfth century at Kanauj, shows a good knowledge of the Kamasutra, while describing the married bliss of Nala and Damayanti. The Vaishnava Movement The eleventh century witnessed a great popularity of the Vaishnava movement. In the field of literature, Prakrits, and later on regional languages, replaced Sanskrit. The herald of the new dawn was a South Indian saint, Randnuja (1017-1137), who is regarded as one of the great apostles of Vaishnavism. He was born in the village of Sri-perambudur in Madras State. He mastered the Vedas, and wrote commentaries on the Vedanta-sutras and the Bhagavad-Gita. He popularised the worship of Vishnu as the Supreme Being.

The Gopis are bathing
Jayadeva, the author of the Gita Govinda, and the court poet of Lakshmanasena (1179-1205), was the earliest poet of Vaishnavism in Bengal. He wrote ecstatically of the love of Radha and Krishna, in which was imaged the love of the soul for God, personified in Krishna. The poem is regarded as an allegory of the soul striving to escape the allurement of the senses to find peace in mystical union with God. Hence arose a doctrine of passionate personal devotion, bhakti or faith towards an incarnate deity in the form of Krishna and absolute surrender of self to the divine will.

It was Eastern India, the provinces of Bihar and Bengal, which became an important centre of the Radha-Krishna cult. Vidydpati (fl. 1400-1470), the poet of Bihar, wrote in the sweet Maithili dialect on the loves of Radha and Krishna. He was the most famous of the Vaishnava poets of Eastern India. He was inspired by the beauty of Lacchima Devi, queen of his patron, Raja Sib Singh of Mithila in Bihar. There is a tradition that the Emperor Akbar summoned Sib Singh to Delhi for some offence, and that Vidyapati obtained his patron's release by an exhibition of clairvoyance. 

The Great Sage VyasaThe incident is thus narrated by Grierson: 'The emperor locked him up in a wooden box, and sent a number of courtesans of the town to bathe in the river. When all was over he released him and asked him to describe what had occurred, when Vidyapati immediately recited impromptu one of the most charming of his sonnets, which has come down to us, describing a beautiful girl at her bath. Astonished at his power, the emperor granted his petition to release Sib Singh. In the love-sonnets of the great master-singer of Mithila we find sacredness wedded to sensuous joy. There are vivid word-pictures of the love of Radha and Krishna painted in a musical language. Coming direct from the heart they remind us that there is nothing so beautiful and touching as sincerity and simplicity.

A contemporary Of Vidyapati was Chandi Das who lived at Nannara in Birbhum district of West Bengal. 'Representing the flow and ardour of impassioned love', says Dineshchandra Sen, 'he became the harbinger of a new age which soon after dawned on our moral and spiritual life and charged it with the white heat of its emotional bliss II His Krishtiakirtana describes the love of Radha' and Krishna in different phases. Chandi Das had fallen in love with a washerwoman, Rami by name, and in describing the physical charm of Radha, and her behaviour, he was drawing upon his own experience. With what passion he describes the pursuit of Radha by Krishna amidst market places, groves and the gay scenery along the bank of the Yamunal In the poems of Chandi Ds, sensuous emotions are sublimated into spiritual delight. The pleasures of the senses find an outlet in mystic ecstasy.

Writer – M.S. Randhawa


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