(Last Updated on : 24/12/2011)
History of Indian paintings has lots of riches for people to enjoy and experience. For the usual humid climate in India the preservation of paintings have been difficult than other forms of art. Some of the earliest Indian paintings have been rock paintings of the prehistoric times. In places like Bhimbetka, petrogyyphs are found, some of them happen to be from 5500 BC. Buddhist Literature in India is filled with examples of texts which go on to describe mansions of kings and aristocratic class overstated with paintings, but the Ajanta Caves are very significant of them all. Unlike in frescoes where paintings are executed while the lime wash is still wet which, thereby acts as an intrinsic binding agent, Ajanta are not frescoes as they are painted with the aid of a binding agent.
Manuscripts paintings are were also practised during the ancient times. However, Mughal paintings represented a fusion of Persian miniature with older tradition, and from 17th century its design was mellowed across Indian princely states. During the British rule in India company paintings were made for clients in Britain under the British Raj. In the 19th century many art schools were introduced along the western lines, leading to modern Indian paintings, which were increasingly returning to Indian tracks. Paintings in India provide a visual continuum that actually extends from early civilization to the contemporary times. From being generally religious during the early days, Indian paintings, over the years, have evolved to become a fusion of many traditions and cultures.
Sadanga or Six Limbs of Indian Painting
Around the early period of 1st century BC there evolved Six Limbs of Indian Paintings
or Sadaga. This fact is enumerated by Vatsyayana, who lived during third century AD, in his work on Kamasutra
These 'Six Limbs' have been translated as follows:
* Rupabheda: The knowledge of appearances.
* Pramanam: Correct perception, measure and structure.
* Bhava: Action of feelings on forms.
* Lavanya: Yojanam Infusion of grace, artistic representation.
* Sadrisyam: Similitude.
* Varnikabhanga: Artistic manner of using the brush and colours.
Later with development in Indian painting the Six Limbs were put to extreme use and became the basic principle on which painting developed in the later part.
Ancient Indian Paintings
Smaller shelters and natural caves in India very often contain prehistoric art and paintings. Monuments of the exceptional value are Bhimbetka Rock Shelters, here, more than 500smaller rocks and caves contains thousands of paintings. Some of the oldest paintings here are more than 15000 years old, and in some cases it is 30,000 years old. The prehistoric art from is spread all over India from snow covered Himalayas to south of Tamil Nadu
Indian Cave Paintings
are regarded as the earliest evidences of Indian paintings that are made on cave walls and palaces while miniature paintings are small-sized colourful, intricate handmade illumination. Different types of Indian painting evolved in different periods of history. There are several styles that can be recognised. This starts from prehistoric cave painting of Bhimbetka
and flourishes through cave paintings of Ajanta caves
, Ellora caves
and Bagh. These are all wall paintings. Bhimbetka is a place in the state of Madhya Pradesh
where prehistoric paintings are discovered in numerous caves. The paintings span a period of 600 years starting from upper Palaeolithic to early historic and medieval times. History of Indian Cave Paintings
like that of Ajanta and Ellora refers to the Buddhist monks who employed painters to draw the life and teachings of Lord Buddha
and Buddha Jataka
on the walls of the Ajanta caves, where they painted the figures along with their costumes and jewelleries in beautiful colours and style while in Ellora caves the paintings are mostly of Hindu deities.
The structures of Indian paintings and art forms that is comparatively less known is in Sittanavasal Cave (Tamil Nadu). In the 7th and 9th century AD there was rock cut Jain Temple named Arivar-Koil. The paintings here cover the upper part of the ceilings and were built in 9th century AD.
There are many rock cut cave temple and also monasteries situated in Himalayan regions. Saspol Caves, located in Jammu and Kashmir
, contains Buddhist panteon. Most of the paintings use blue colour and has an uncanny resemblance with Indian Buddhist art.
There are also traces of beautiful wall paintings found in Tabo Caves in Himachal Pradesh
and in Bhimbetka Rock in Madhya Pradesh. Significant traces of medieval paintings are also found in Thiruparankundram, Murugan Temple (Tamil Nadu), Kanheri Caves in Maharashtra
, Undavalli in Andhra Pradesh
and Manmod Caves in Maharashtra.
is a very popular form of tribal painting. Their major themes include the harvest season, celebration, wedding, rituals and births. Warli dates back to the Age between 2,500 BC and 3,000 BC.
Medieval Indian Paintings
mainly describes Indo-Islamic design of painting and flourished in the ateliers of Mughal emperors including Akbar
and Shah Jahan
, which describes neatly the court life of Mughal royal society.
are classical South Indian form of painting which evolved in the village of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu state and well-known for its richness and compactness of forms and vivid colours.
Rajasthani paintings are miniature paintings
of the finest quality, which are made both on paper and on large pieces of cloth. Different parts of the state stick to their own style, and are thus recognized as different schools of paintings. A number of famous schools of painting are Mewar, Hadoti
. It is also known as Rajput Paintings
and has clear influence of Mughal paintings though it quite unique in its own way.
Indian paintings during medieval times can be further classified according to their different origin. Among numerous types Mithila paintings
or Madhubani painting (where subject involves Hindu Gods
and goddesses, the natural objects like moon and sun, sacred plant like Tulsi
and its specialty remain in use of vegetable colours), Pahari painting
, Lepakshi painting (it is wall painting made on the walls of temple of Lepakshi, a small village in Anantpur district
of Andhra Pradesh
), must be mentioned.
Another from that flourished exceedingly during medieval period was Pahari Painting
which is the miniature painting evolved in the hilly states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab
, Jammu and Kashmir during the period of Rajputs
. These paintings have beautiful scenes of Himalaya as the backdrop. There are three distinct schools named Basholi, Guler-Kangra and Sikh.
Modern Indian Paintings
Indian painting in the contemporary phase has undergone a sea change. Glass Painting in India
is comparatively a new concept and is extremely delightful to the connoisseur's eyes for its clarity and richness of colours. The glass is engraved and then coloured from the reverse side. Patachitra flourished in the state of Orissa
and is made on cloth with extremely vivid colours and mythology-based subject. Kalighat
pots are another form, which are made on earthen pot or cloth. These are mainly used as wall hangings. Marble Painting is also a type of Indian painting which is also a recent form of painting made on exquisite marble stones. The subject can be traditional or contemporary. Marble paintings are mainly used for decorative purpose, especially on tabletop, furniture and flower vases. The Indian artists adopted Indian Oil painting
as a unique technique of art and Raja Ravi Verma
was considered to be the pioneer who made this new medium popular in India. Indian Folk Painting
gives a pictorial expression of village painters, which are marked by the subjects chosen from epics like Ramayana
and other mythological stories. Kalamkari
is the form of art that involves weaving and block printing apart from painting. Silk Paintings and fabric paintings are done on cloth or different types of fabric. Bengal School of Arts
and Madras School of Arts
were established by the British to enhance the art culture in India.
All major names in the artistic Diaspora are Bal Chabda, Manishi Dey, Mukul Dey
, V. S. Gaitonde, Ram Kumar
, Tyeb Mehta
, and Akbar Padamsee
. Other popular painters like Jahar Dasgupta
, Prokash Karmakar
, Narayanan Ramachandran, and Bijon Choudhuri helped enrich Indian art culture. These people are now icons of modern Indian paintings.