Miniature Painting - Informative & researched article on Miniature Painting
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Home > Art & Culture > Indian Paintings > Types of Indian Painting > Miniature Painting
Miniature Painting
Miniature Paintings were complex, colorful, and small in size, with delicate brushwork.
 Miniature Paintings were complex, colorful, and small in size, with delicate brushwork. The history of Indian Miniature paintings has started in 6-7th century. Miniature Painting was drawn to convey reality. The different schools of Indian miniatures like the Pala, Orissa, Jain, Mughal, Rajasthani and Nepali did not grow after isolation. The 11th century Pala miniatures were the earliest to arrive. Their most important contributributing factor was the symbolic use of colour. According to some people, the use of red color for backgrounds has come to be connected in subsequent tradition with sensual and passionate desire. In Pala painting, colour representation was taken from tantric ritual, whereas in Pahadi and Rajasthani paintings the use of bright backgrounds was purely taken for pictographic effect. The Pahadi artists were not partial to religious symbolism in the choice of colours. The effective use of a skillful and graceful line, modeling forms by delicate and meaningful deviation of pressure and to a lesser extent by depth and lightness of quality the other hallmarks of Pala painting also left their impression. It is also possible that the natural colour used for painting skins of human figures in miniatures paintings holds back to Pala times.

Miniature Painting Western Indian Jain miniature paintings have, however, left a permanent mark on succeeding Indian paintings. Jain religious themes and motives did not inspire copying but their influence was on style. The Jain use of strong pure colors, the stylish figures of ladies, the heavy gold outlines, the reduction of dress to pointed segments, enlarged eyes and square shaped hands are reflected both in Rajasthani and Pahadi paintings. They also transmit their curse over Mughal and Deccani painting. The sixteenth century was creatively successful for Indian painting. The art of miniature painting came into great importance both under the Mughals and the Muslim kings of the Deccan and Malwa and also under the Hindu Rajas of Rajasthan. The Mughals were helpful in introducing elements of Persian tradition in modern painting as well as subsequent styles of Indian painting. The recognition for introducing Western elements in drawing and painting in the Indian style also goes to the Muslim kingdoms. Deccani miniatures on the other hand, do not seem to have influenced by Pahadi paintings. The only thing which links both schools appears to be the use of sprays of pink flowers common in Deccani miniatures and in Chamba miniatures.

The intense urge for artistic expression in the Western Himalayas from the 17th century onwards produced miniatures as well as wall paintings. However, while miniatures were produced here from the second half of the 17th century onwards, known wall paintings cannot be dated earlier than the last quarter of the 18th century. But it is quite possible that, as in some other parts of India, a painting tradition may have existed in the Western Himalayas earlier than the datable remains. The fact that the artists were well acquainted with the technique of preparing plaster for wall paintings seems to lend support to this view. Unfortunately, not a single painting before this period exists. It is difficult to say, at this stage, whether the miniature or the mural style of painting was older in the Himalayas. What can, however, be surmised is that both these styles deeply influenced each other.

Wall Paintings
Miniature PaintingThe art of Wall painting in India had started in the prehistoric times. The Pre-historic paintings in the cave shelters of Bhimbetka and Pachmarhi are simple designs showing scenes of hunting, farming and dancing against dotted rock and was originally done in black or mud colors. The color palette soon expanded to include white, red, yellow, blue and green. This succession can clearly be seen in the wall art of Bhimbetka. Drawings on walls of caves and rock shelters served two purposes: decorating homes and comforting deities. There were many influences on India's art ranging from religious and cultural to regional influences. The influence of Buddhism is first seen in paintings at Ajanta (2nd BC to the 7th century AD). At Ajanta, the temples were built into the stone cliffs, with the paintings on the wall, which were illustrations of the stories of Buddha. Those paintings that did survive were either wall paintings or miniature paintings. In addition to the wall paintings found in Ajanta, other paintings were found in Orissa and Tamil Nadu, with the same theme as Ajanta, stories of Buddha's life.

Types of Wall Paintings
1. Deity Wall Paintings
The Bhils and Bhilala tribes of Madhya Pradesh paint myths on the walls related to creation called pithora paintings. Horses, elephants, tigers, birds, gods, men and objects of daily life are painted in bright-multicoloured hues. Mughal miniature paintings also figure as a footnote in MP because the Persians of the court of Malwa were enthusiastic client.

2. Mandana
Auspicious wall paintings of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, mandanas are meant to protect the home and fireplace as well as to welcome gods into the house. Mud and cow dung are usually plastered on the walls, which are then painted white. The women of the house paint symbols like the swastika, the sun or the tree of life in black and red. Fortunate diagrams are drawn on the floor with rice paste, coloured powder, flower petals or grains of rice, often with symbolic signs.

3. Madhubani
Traditionally painted on walls and floors by the women of Bihar to invoke divine protection, the humble Madhubanihas come a long way. Scenes from Hindu epics, fertility symbols, auspicious birds and beasts are daubed on walls with the paste of newly harvested rice.

(Last Updated on : 19/06/2013)
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