2. 'Religious paintings with a royal heritage' is the best definition for Thanjavur
paintings, now better known as Tanjore paintings. Tanjore painting ranks among
the greatest traditional art forms for which India is noted worldwide. Their themes
are fundamentally mythological. These religious paintings demonstrate that
spirituality is the essence of creative work. Few art forms match the beauty and
grace of Tanjore paintings.
Originating in Tanjavur about 300 kms from Chennai, this form of art developed
at the height of cultural evolvement achieved during the rule of mighty Chola
empire. The art form evolved and flourished under the patronage of successive
rulers. These magnificent paintings adorned the royal dwellings and later found
their way into every household.
An extraordinary visual amalgamation of both art and craft, Tanjore paintings
mainly consist of themes on Hindu gods and goddesses, with figures of Lord
Krishna in various poses and depicting various stages of his life being the
favourite. The characteristics of the Tanjore paintings are their brilliant colour
schemes, decorative jewellery with stones and cut glasses and remarkable gold
leaf work. The liberal use of gold leaf and precious and semi-precious stones
presents a splendid visual treat. These give life to the pictures such that the
pictures come alive in a unique way. Adorned with rubies, diamonds and other
precious gemstones, and trimmed with gold foil, Tanjore paintings were true
treasures. Nowadays, however, semi-precious stones are used in place of real
ones, but the use of gold foil has not altered. The shine and glean on the gold
leaves used by the Tanjore style paintings, lasts forever.
6. Madhubani painting, also referred to as Mithila
Art (as it flourishes in the Mithila region of Bihar),
is characterized by line drawings filled in by
bright colours and contrasts or patterns. This
style of painting has been traditionally done by
the women of the region, though today men are
also involved to meet the demand. These
paintings are popular because of their tribal
motifs and use of bright earthy colours. These
paintings are done with mineral pigments
prepared by the artists. The work is done on
freshly plastered or a mud wall.
7. Figures from nature & mythology are adapted to suit their
style. The themes & designs widely painted are of Hindu
deities such as Krishna, Rama, Siva, Durga, Lakshmi,
Saraswati, Sun and Moon, Tulasi plant, court scenes,
wedding scenes, social happenings etc. Floral, animal and
bird motifs, geometrical designs are used to fill up all the
gaps. The skill is handed down the generations, and hence
the traditional designs and patterns are widely maintained.
10. Maharashtra is known for its Warli folk paintings.
Warli is the name of the largest tribe found on the
northern outskirts of Mumbai, in Western India.
Despite being in such close proximity of the largest
metropolis in India, Warli tribesmen shun all
influences of modern urbanization. Warli Art was first
discovered in the early seventies. While there are no
records of the exact origins of this art, its roots may
be traced to as early as the 10th century A.D. Warli is
the vivid expression of daily and social events of the
Warli tribe of Maharashtra, used by them to embellish
the walls of village houses. This was the only means
of transmitting folklore to a populace not acquainted
with the written word. This art form is simple in
comparison to the vibrant paintings of Madhubani.
11. Stylistically, they can be recognized by the fact that they are
painted on an austere mud base using one color, white, with
occasional dots in red and yellow. This colour is obtained
from grounding rice into white powder. This sobriety is offset
by the ebullience of their content. These themes are highly
repetitive and symbolic. Many of the Warli paintings that
represent Palghat, the marriage god, often include a horse
used by the bride and groom. The painting is sacred and
without it, the marriage cannot take place. These paintings
also serve social and religious aspirations of the local people.
It is believed that these paintings invoke powers of the Gods.
they are pretty close to pre-historic cave paintings in
execution and usually depict scenes of human figures
engaged in activities like hunting, dancing, sowing and
14. Pattachitra style of painting is one of the oldest and most popular
art forms of Odisha. The name Pattachitra has evolved from the
Sanskrit words patta, meaning canvas, and chitra, meaning picture.
Pattachitra is thus a painting done on canvas, and is manifested by
rich colourful application, creative motifs and designs, and portrayal
of simple themes, mostly mythological in depiction.
Making the patta is the first thing that comes in the agenda, and the
painters, also called chitrakars, go about their work in preparing a
tamarind paste, which is made by soaking tamarind seeds in water
for three days. The seeds are later pounded with a crusher, mixed
with water, and heated in an earthen pot to turn it to a paste, which
is called niryas kalpa. The paste is then used to hold two pieces of
cloth together with it, and coated with a powder of soft clay stone a
couple of times till it becomes firm. Soon as the cloth becomes dry,
the final touch of polishing it with a rough stone and then a smooth
stone or wood is given, until the surface becomes smooth and
leathery, and is all ready as a canvas to be painted on.
15. Preparing the paints is perhaps the most important
part of the creation of Pattachitra, engaging the
craftsmanship of the chitrakars in using naturally
available raw materials to bring about indigenous
paints. The gum of the kaitha tree is the chief
ingredient, and is used as a base for making different
pigments, on which diverse raw materials are mixed
for diverse colours. Powdered conch shells, for
instance, are used for making a white pigment, while
lamp soot is used for a black pigment. The root of the
keya plant is usually used for making the common
brush, while mouse hair is used on the requirement of
finer brushes, to be attached to wooden handles.
17. The art of Miniature painting was introduced to the land of India by the Mughals,
who brought the much-revealed art form from Persia. In the sixteenth century, the
Mughal ruler Humayun brought artists from Persia, who specialized in miniature
painting. The succeeding Mughal Emperor, Akbar built an atelier for them to
promote the rich art form. These artists, on their part, trained Indian artists who
produced paintings in a new distinctive style, inspired by the royal and romantic
lives of the Mughals. The particular miniature produced by Indian artists in their
own style is known as Rajput or Rajasthani miniature. During this time, several
schools of painting evolved, such as Mewar (Udaipur), Bundi, Kotah, Marwar
(Jodhpur), Bikaner, Jaipur, and Kishangarh
These paintings are done with utmost care and in minute details, with strong lines
and bold colours set in harmonious patterns. The miniature artists use paper,
ivory panels, wooden tablets, leather, marble, cloth and walls for their paintings.
Indian artists employed multiple perspectives unlike their European counterparts
in their paintings. The colours are made from minerals and vegetables, precious
stones, as well as pure silver and gold. The preparing and mixing of colour is an
elaborate process. It takes weeks, sometimes months, to get the desired results.
The brushes are required to be very fine, and to get high-quality results, brushes
even to this very day are made from hair of squirrels. Traditionally, the paintings
are aristocratic, individualistic and strong in portraiture, where the plush court
scenes and hunting expedition of royalty are depicted. Flowers and animals are
also the recurrent images in the paintings.
18. The Kishangarh province in Rajasthan is known for its Bani
Thani paintings. It is a totally different style with highly
exaggerated features like long necks, large, almond shaped
eyes, and long fingers. This style of painting essentially
depicts Radha and Krishna as divine lovers, and beautifully
portrays their mystical love. Kishangarh miniature painting
reached a peak in the eighteenth century, during the rule of
Raja Sawant Singh, who fell in love with a slave girl, Bani
Thani and commanded his artists to portray himself and her
as Krishna and Radha. Other themes of Bani Thani paintings
include portraits, court scenes, dancing, hunting, music
parties, nauka vihar (lovers travelling in a boat), Krishna
Lila, Bhagavata Purana and various other festivals like Holi,
Diwali, Durga puja, and Dussehra.
21. Names like Rangoli, Kolam etc are not new to us, and neither is
the tradition of drawing them at the entrance of homes and
temples. In fact it is part of the domestic routine in Hindu
households, who consider it auspicious to draw certain patterns
at the doorstep and courtyard to welcome a deity into the house.
This art form is a harmonious blend of Aryan, Dravidian and
Kalam (Kalamezhuthu) is unique form of this art found in Kerala.
It is essentially a ritualistic art practiced in temples and sacred
groves of Kerala where the representation of deities like Kali and
Lord Ayyappa, are made on the floor. Various factors need to be
considered when deciding the nature or figure on the 'Kalam',
which include the presiding deity of the temple or sacred grove,
the religious purpose that calls for the ritual of Kalamezhuthu
and the particular caste that does it. In each case the patterns,
minute details, dimensions and colour choice are decided in
observance with strict rules. The patterns vary considerably
depending on the occasion, but rarely by the choice of the artist.
22. Kalamezhuthu is practiced using natural pigments and
powders, usually in five colours. The drawing is done with
bare hands without the use of tools. The pictures are
developed from the centre, growing outwards, patch by
patch. The powder is spread in the floor, letting it in a thin
stream between the thumb and the index finger. The
figures drawn usually have an expression of anger or other
emotions. The powders and pigments are all extracted
from plants - rice powder for white, burnt husk for black,
turmeric for yellow, a mixture of lime and turmeric for red
and the leaves of certain trees for green. Lighted oil lamps
placed at strategic positions brighten the colours.
Kalamezhuthu artists are generally members of
communities like the Kurups, Theyyampadi Nambiars,
Theeyadi Nambiars and Theeyadi Unnis. The 'Kalams' drawn
by these people vary in certain characteristics.