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Hadoti School Painting

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 4:31 AM

Naika, Alwer Style
The role and influence of the rulers of the Chauhan dynasty were confined to the regions of Bundi, Kota and Jhalawar. Hence this area has been termed the Hadoti region. This area was a treasury of art. The oldest specimens of prehistoric rock paintings in Rajasthan are in the caves on the banks of the Chambal River near Kota. Its temple architecture and iconography were famous from ancient times. Many artistic temples located at Kansua, Badoli and Ramgarh testify to this fact.

Bundi Style

The style of painting that flourished wheh Bundi was ruled by Hada Rajputs is widely known as the Bundi style. The natural beauty of this place comprising mountains covered with luxuriant vegetation, lakes, streams and dense forests greatly influenced artists.

Historical Background

Till the middle of the 14th century A.D. (Sanvant 1398), Bundi, founded by Rao Deva, was a leading Rajput state, but Bundi painting dated back to the time of Raja Surjan Singh (1594-1598). Having severed his relations with Mewar, he surrendered the fort of Ranthambor to Emperor Akbar and accepted the suzerainty of the Mughal Empire.' His grandson Rao Ratan Singh (1607-1631) received the title Sar-Buland Rai from Jehangir and established strong ties with the Mughals. Shatzusal, grandson of Rao Ratan Singh (1631-1658), patronised many artists in his state. His son Bhav Singh (1651-1681) was also a keen lover of art and encouraged his subjects to take keen interest in poetry, music and painting.

Nafeeri Vadan, Alwar StylePoets like Mati Ram enjoyed the patronage of Bhav Singh, whose Lalit-Lallam and Ras Raj greatly impressed artists and lovers of art.' Bhav Singh and his son Anirudh Singh participated in wars in the south under the direction of the Mughals.

The southern style also influenced the Bundi style in the reign of Rao Budha Singh (1695-1731). In 1710 Rao Bhim Singh of Kota annexed Bundi, but with the help of the Mahrattas Rao Umaid Singh liberated it in 1748. As a result Bundi came under Mahratta influence. In the 19th century Rajasthan came under British influence, and Bundi shared this experience.


No definite dates are available regarding the origin of the Bundi style, but in the middle of the 18th century facts about its historical background were known!' On the basis of available material, two paintings concerning the Rag-Mala theme acquire significant historical value. In the beginning of the 17th century this style, a sub-branch of the Mewar school influenced by the Mughal style and endowed with original qualities, flourished under the patronage of art-loving kings.

Rao Chhattarsal constructed a Rang Mahal which was decorated withfrescoes. From the text Lalit-Lallam could be easily gathered facts about deeds of chivalry, art criticism and patronage of art of Bhav Singh.

Bawan Awater, Alwer Style
Many paintings of Rag-Ragini, Nayika-Bhed, Krishna-Lila in his time now adorn private collections and museums. Traditions of drawings on the basis of Ras Raj were initiated in this period. Towards the end of this age, Lal Kavi compiled a decorative text for Rao Budha Singh (1695-1731) which praised his sharp intellect and criticism of art.

In the first part of the 18th century the Bundi style flourished. This age, from the point of the abundance of paintings and distinct characteristics, is a landmark in the development of Rajput painting. The simplicity of early Bundi paintings and the impact of Mewar started blooming into their true forms in this period. The Bundi style, based upon traditional poetry and endowed with rich colours and attractive forms, and physical structures reached its zenith.

In the middle of the 18th century the style took a new turn in the period of Raja Umaid Singh (1748-1771), in which the manifold diversities of nature and the physical beauty of nayak-nayilca, the firmness of brush and charm of conception are easily visible. Even though this style was greatly influenced by the Mughal style, it had its own independent attraction. The collection in the Prince of Wales Museum and the incomplete set of Rasikpriya in the National Museum belong to this period.

Poetry and art made further advance in the following years. Rao Raja Vishnu Singh (1773-1821) was, like his father, a great connoisseur of art. Thousands of verses based upon shringar and Bhakti he compiled himself are still available in manuscript. He painted many texts on the basis of the traditional shringar style. At the beginning of the 19th century the whole country came under the influence of the Company style the British introduced.

Bundi failed to counter this new cultural force. Raja Ram Singh (1821-1889) of Bundi was a keen lover of art. He commissioned many pictures and patronised artists on a large scale. Paintings of this period however exhibit the impact of the West. Because of this influence the Bundi style, like other styles of Rajasthani painting, began to deteriorate. From the time of Raja Ram Singh light colours, a narrow range of sentiment, lack of imagination and poor drawing began to appear. In the second half of the 19th century the famous Bundi style of painting lapsed into oblivion.

Salient Features

Holi, Alwer StyleIn the early Bundi style the shape of the limbs of nayak-nayika and the arrangement of colours resemble those of the Mewar school. Paintings of the 17th century were greatly influenced by the southern style in representing female faces, foliage of trees, starry skies.

In the Bundi style tall human figures with slim and graceful bodies are striking qualities. Women have deep red lips, small noses, round faces and small chins. Their small necks decorated with ornaments, embossed breasts tightly held up in brassieres, thin waists and felicity of expression are special characteristics of this style. Male figures wearing their turbans inclined downward, torsos covered with a long gown, dupatta round the waist and tight pyjama falling to the feet characterize the Bundi style. Men of fair complexion adorned with ornaments are easily noticeable.

Another special feature of the style is the application of seven colours in drawings of nature. These paintings show blue skies partly covered with clouds, peacocks, squirrels, parrots, heron, deer, monkeys, elephants, lions, bushy gardens and forests with a variety of flowers and trees laden with fruits, ponds covered with creepers, lotus blooms in which geese, vakul and fish are seen sporting. In short, the beauty of nature in all its diversity, vastness and colour is present in the Bundi style, and is not visible elsewhere except in the Kishangarh style.

The third highlight of the Bundi style is its drawing of architecture. Dome-shaped Rajasthani cenotaphs point skyward.


Kunjbihar, Jaipur Style
Ragragini, nayika-bhed, ritu-varnan, Barah-masa, Krishna-Lila, royal court, festivals, wars are the principal themes of the Bundi style. Because of the predominance of the Vallabha sect pictures of Krishna-Lila were mainly painted. They included Rasikpriya, Bihari Satsai, Ras Raj and other verses. Some of these texts had flowed from the brushes of artists who had not chosen any poetic texts but were based on their own poetry.

Kota Style

The Kota style came into the limelight in 1952 when Col. T.G. Gear Anderson presented his personal collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum and some of the paintings were in styles different from the Bundi style. For this reason the type of painting which flourished in Kota is termed the Kota style, which may also be considered a sub-branch of the Bundi style. But because of its originality and high artistic quality its separate identity should be recognised.


Royal Elephant (Wall Painting)Favourably impressed by Mad ho Singh Hada, son of Rao Ratan Singh of Bundi state, Emperor Shahjahan gifted him a few territories as a token of esteem. As a result an independent state of Kota came into being in 1631. But on the basis of available facts its establishment is considered more likely by the end of the 17th century."

It is difficult to distinguish between the earlier paintings and those in the Bundi style. Credit for creating an independent Kota style goes to Raja Ram Singh (1696-1705). Many paintings of his period are available even today." They reveal that the impact of the Bundi style on the Kota style was considerable.

After Raja Ram Singh, Maharawal Bhim Singh (1703-1720) paid special regard to the Krishna-Bhakti tradition. He surrendered his palace and capital to Lord Krishna after having built a temple and changed his name to Krishan Dass and Kota's name to Nand Gram and Barsana of Shergarh.

Thus he made Kota Braj Bhoomi, and this new move greatly influenced the artistic world of Rajasthan. Paintings of his time depicting Krishna-Charitra are fairly easy to obtain. After Maharawal Bhim Singh, Arjun Singh (1720-1764) also preserved the traditional painting of Krishna-Charitra. Many paintings belonging to this time are available in the State Museum, Kota. A pictorial Bhagwad text compiled in 1760 is presumed to be in the Mewar style, but many scholars believe it belongs to the Kota-Bundi style pictorial texts. This text comprises 1190 pages and hundreds of small and big paintings.

For a new landmark in the Kota style of painting credit goes to art-loving Raja Umaid Singh (1771-1820). He also had a strong inclination for hunting. The dense forests of Kota abounded with many wild animals like lion, tiger, cheetah, pig, and deer. In the reign of Umaid Singh artists took a keen interest in depicting hunting themes, and the Kota style acquired a great reputation for painting such scenes.

In the darbar hall of the palace many frescoes are based on the Krishna-Lila epic,

Hadot-i-School and among hundreds of miniatures in the Great Palace many relate to Krishna-Charitra. Two pictorial texts belonging to the beginning of the 19th century depict the significance of the Pushti sect. One of them a text of entitled Valla-bhotsava-Chandrika decorated with beautiful pictures relating to Vallabhacharya and his seven sons, seven attributes, and various festivals in 12 months had been created." The other, Gita Panchmel, is a similar artistic text of six paintings concerning Radha-Krishna and their attributes. This tradition of the Kota style continued to be popular in the reign of Raja Ram Singh II (1822-1866), but the British influence heralded its downfall like that of others.

Salient Features

Royal Procession (Wall Painting)
The Kota style has some characteristics-of-the Bundi style, but its own distinct features. Because of the influence of the Vallabha sect, male and female links are like those of go swamis and priests Stout bodies, shining faces, bulging eyes are special features of the Kota style. Application of green, red and golden colours in Kota style painting is very pleasing to see. Animals painted in this style include deer, tiger, lion and pig.

The style of painting relating to the Hadoti School belonged to Jhalawar and other important feudal states besides the Kota and Bundi styles. Ancient cave paintings have also been found in this region, and paintings in the Bundi style are found in art museums all over the world. Probably Bundi has earned the distinction of having produced the largest number of paintings in Rajasthan.

Writer - Jay Singh Neeraj

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