(Last Updated on : 03/08/2011)
Indian Mural Paintings are paintings made on walls of caves and palaces. The earliest evidence of murals is the beautiful frescoes painted on the caves of Ajanta and Ellora, also on the Bagh caves
and Sittanvasal. In the old scripts and literature, there were many evidences of mural paintings. According to Vinaya Pitaka, the noted courtesan of Vaishali, Amrapali employed painters to paint the kings, traders and merchants of that time on the walls of her palace. There are also numerous references in antediluvian texts to `Chitragaras` or galleries maintained by the kings and rulers.
The colour materials on the mural paintings in ancient India were derived from the natural materials like terracotta, chalk, red ochre and yellow ochre mixed with animal fat. The subjects included the figures of human beings and animals, hunting, family scenes, court life, deities and stories from Budhhist `Jataka`. The ancient painters did the murals with expert hands and observant eyes. This is evident from the cave paintings of Ajanta, which were made during second century BC and continued till the 5th-6th century AD by the decorative motifs, crowded compositions, figure types and details of costumes. The other significant mural paintings of this period are found at Bagh in Madhya Pradesh, caves of Badami in Karnataka
, Sittannavasal in Tamil Nadu
and the Kailashanatha temple in Ellora, Maharashtra
of 8th century AD and known for their linear styles. Mud plaster had been applied in two coats - the first was rough in order to fill in the pores of the rocks and then a final coat of lime plaster is applied over it. The Mural painting took place in stages. The line is drawn in red ochre the colours are applied & the contours are renewed in brown, deep red or black. The pigments that were required for the paints were from local volcanic rocks with the exception of lamp black. Animal glue and vegetable gums were also used. The facial expressions were highlighted by patches of light colours. In order to create illusion of depth various methods were used.
In Eastern India there are many evidences of wall and panel paintings describing Buddhist and non-Buddhist themes. In Arunachal Pradesh
sublime mural works have been found which needs further study. Ladakh
is known for its wall paintings in Alchi and Hemis monasteries, made on 11th-12th century and the Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh
is known for its Buddhist paintings in the gomphas of Tabo Monastery
North India has a rich heritage of mural paintings even before the Mughal period. The murals at the Vishnu Temple located at Madanpur in Lalitpur district
of Uttar Pradesh
of 12th century AD reveals the skilful hands of the painters. Though the Mughal era is known mostly for the miniatures, the enthralling murals embellished on the walls of forts and palaces of Akbar
quietly speaks of the influence of Persian styles. The Mughal painting
traditions influenced the Rajput painting
. The wall paintings in Deeg, Bundi, Jaipur
and other places in Rajasthan
are quite convincing.
South India also got rich tradition of mural paintings. In the reign of Cholas, Vijayanagaras and Nayakas this art reached the climax. The Deccan art of Bijapur, Hyderabad
, and Golconda schools were influenced by the Mughal traditions and later by European idiom. Maratha murals are also shaped under the Mogul traditions and employed oil as medium. The mural art of Kerala
vividly depicted on the walls of temples and monuments show the traces of European affinity.