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Introduction to Splendour of Rajasthani Painting

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 3:19 AM

Hunting Maharana Art is a unique example of expressing a cultured way of life. The experience of joy relating to the visible or invisible physical or astral body or sentiments being in real form, appear before human beings in expressive forms. That expression is termed art.

The word kala is derived from Sanskrit. It has been used in Sanskrit literature in numerous interpretations, in which the 16th parts of a principal object, "a part of time" the expected intelligence in performing any task deserves special mention. Before the advent of Bharat Muni, kaki had been applied in almost all other acts of intelligence except poetry, and was a special world for such work of the intellect. Any useful business regarding life had ever been placed in the category of art.

The best example of the application of the word is clearly discernible in the Natyashastra by Bharat: "Na tajjanam na tachhilypam na vidyaa na saa kala." The word kala frequently used by Bharat comes very near to fine art and architecture (shilpa) is near to a useful art. In India all such knowledge and vocations requiring the slightest intelligence are termed art, kala.

The Western view of art seems similar. Art is related to old French art or Latin ars, whose meaning is to produce, to express or to adjust. Since the 13th century in England the word art has been used with the meaning intelligence. Since the 17th century the word has been associated with poetry, music, painting, iconography, architecture and the fine arts.

According to place, time and circumstances, the word art has been used in numerous contexts, but still it has never been deprived of expressing the meaning of intelligent acts and thoughtful depiction.

From time to time intellectuals and connoisseurs have defined art in a manner which clearly echoes the meaning of fine art. To attain the exalted status of Shiv and express the beautiful form of truth, art is a powerful medium which according to the tastes and instincts of the artist has been conveyed from time to time for that eternal depiction. Hence through poetry, music, painting, iconography and through construction of splendid buildings, the artist from time to time made his special contribution to society. Among the above five arts painting occupies a unique status.

Shrinathji"Chiyate iti chitram", or the artist sorts out introvert and extrovert sentiments. Paintings containing sweetness, dynamism and liveliness could be termed beautiful painting. Owing to such beauty painting is accorded an exalted position. In ancient India Vishnudharmottara Puran makes the following reference:. "Kala-naam pravarm chitram dharma kaamartha mokshdam, Mangalyam prathamam chetadgrihai yatra pratishatham." The art of painting is considered a subtle means to pursue religion, pleasure and liberation. With this desire for happiness a painting is installed in the home. Such sentiments have motivated the decoration of houses with drawings. Frescoes from the Ajanta caves to the havelis of Shekhawati are a testimony to this view.

Lines and colours are the medium of painting. On any infrasurface the artist could express his feelings through the application of lines and colours. "On any surface, smooth or rough, drawing an attractive object with lines of watery, oily or wet or dry colours is termed painting. Such a depicted object is called a picture. Such infrasurface chiefly belongs to fresco, stone, wood, utensils and phalaks of baked clay, ivory, leather, cloth, palm leaves and paper."' The artist possesses a distinct characteristic to depict heights, distance and nearness on a plane surface in which he turns his imaginative ideas into visible paintings through the arrangement of colours and lines according to his capability. Hence it is said: "Poetry is a speaking picture and a picture is mute poetry."

Basis of Painting

Geet GovindTo create paintings artists have selected different media in accordance with circumstances of time and space and among them are frequently available paintings in the form of frescoes and scripts.

The art of frescoes belongs to the instinct of primitive human beings. Ancient cave paintings testify to this view. The frescoes in the caves of Ajanta, Ellora, Allania4 (Rajasthan) have attracted worldwide attention of art connoisseurs. Frescoes have been drawn in temples, palaces and cenotaphs. After the 16th century palaces, temples, cenotaphs and havelis frequently appeared in temples dedicated to the Vallabha sect, houses and cenotaphs of feudal lords and palatial buildings (havelis) belonging to the capitalists of Shekhawati. Frescoes have ever been an ancient tradition in our country, and accordingly paintings have been produced with new techniques.

Script Painting

Virhini NayikaIn India the tradition of script painting is very old. Like fresco painting it is still prevalent. From the commercial angle, drawing of padd and picchavai is done even today in Rajasthan. In regard to script paintings, a Tantric text of Buddhism titled Aray Manjushri Kalp says drawing is to be done on clean white cloth which has borders on both sides. Silk cloth is prohibited for this purpose.

Script paintings are available in two forms as padd or picchavai scrolls. Padds are based on stories of folk gods while picchavais relate to Krishna-Lila. Kundalitpat or scrolls have been made with less width and more length. The whole text has been painted in this scroll. A scroll of Bhagvad Puran decorated with 107 paintings of the Alwar school preserved in the museum at Alwar is the longest scroll in my knowledge.'

Manuscript Paintings

In ancient days the tradition of writing poetry and making drawings on bhurj leaves or palm leaves was kept alive. This resulted in the abundance of pictorial texts preserved in many Jain homes and museums, and in this Rajasthan's contribution deserves special mention.

The themes of the pictorial texts mostly relate to Jainism. Among them KaIpa-Sutra, Kalikacharya Kathanak and Nentinath Charitra deserve special mention. Texts compiled on palm leaves had a definite dimension and the reverse sides of different leaves had been written or painted on. Such leaves had been compiled as texts after making holes in the centre.

Bharamar Geet of SurdasThe invention of paper in the 12th century ushered in a new era in the compilation of pictorial texts.' Uttarayan Sutra of V.S. 1277 and Nyaya, Tatparya-Tikka compiled by Vachaspati Mishra in V.S. 1270 and painted on paper are preserved in the Granth-Bhandar of Jaisalmer. Credit for encouraging this tradition goes to the Sagun-Bhakti movement and the Mughal rulers of India.

The Sagun-Bhakti movement provided fresh inspiration for folklife. Lilas of Ram and Krishna turned into reality through the media of poetry and painting. The tradition of painting texts, making poetry the basis, received a great impetus.

The coming of Mughal rule popularised the tradition of text painting greatly. Two artists, Sayid Ali and Abdul Samad, from Persia accompanied Humayun to India and painted the text Ameer Hamza. In the royal court of Akbar, a keen lover of painting, great artists like Bassavan, Dasvant, Sanval Dass, Farukh Beg enjoyed imperial patronage. Besides Babar-Nama, Akbar-Nama, Rajjam-Nama and Tuti-Nama had also painted religious texts like Mahabharat, Ramayan and Anwar-a-Suhali (Panchatantra).

After the advent of Akbar the tradition of manuscript painting gathered momentum. The Mughal school, the Rajasthani school and the Pahari school were important links in the art of painting texts based upon Ram Kavya, Krishna Kavya, Sufi Kavya, Riti Kavya, Barah-Masa, Ritu-Varnan, Rag-Ragini, which are still available.

Miniatures

Miniature art is an offshoot of manuscript painting. On the basis of imagination or poetical sentiments, providing a heading or without a title, such miniatures are available in large numbers in numerous museums and private collections. Laghuchitra or miniature painting is the heritage of Rajasthani painting.

Writer – Jai Singh Neeraj
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