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Indigenous painting styles of India
January 25, 2016, 12:52 pm

The style and variety of Indian indigenous paintings is as vivid as the colorful Indian culture. With regard to style and pattern, indigenous painting can be categorized into seven special groups: Rajasthani painting, Madhubani painting, Tanjore Painting, Mughal Painting, Bengal style of art, Patta chitra, and Warli art. These seven streams of indigenous painting styles are different from each other but there is a cultural synchronization between all these styles, based on the fact that all these artworks are inspired by Indian history and heritage.

Madhubani Painting: Originated in a village called Madhubani in the Bihar region of India, according to mythology, this tradition started when Janakraj, father of Rani Sita asked his painters to paint the moments of the marriage ceremony of Sita with Lord Rama. Traditionally, it was done by Madhubani’s village women on the mud wall of the huts but later on, the base was converted into cloth, canvas, and handmade papers.

Apart from the royal marriage of Ram and Sita, Madhubani art also depicts Hindu devotional stories and movements around deities like Krishna, Durga, Lakhsmi, Sarswati and others. Different natural objects like, the moon, the sun, and plant Tulsi (an auspicious plant in Hindu religion) is also part of the themes of the Madhubani pictures. In Madhubani paintings no empty space is left on canvas, the gaps are covered by different geometrical motifs, floral, animals, and bird pictures. 

Tanjore painting: Originating from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu in and around 16th century, Tanjore painting is one of the most traditional streams of painting style and is famous for its contemporary look, surface richness, compact opus, and flamboyant color range. Tanjore paints are known for their excellent versatility and therefore, Tanjore painting works are widely popular as brilliant home décor items. These Tanjore paintings are religious artworks of typical South Indian style and origin and look celestial in a puja room and elegant in other places. This art is also referred as’ palagai padam’ in local dialect, which means a pious expression of love for the Almighty, beauty, truth, and spiritual devotion.

Rajasthani Painting: Created in the 18th century from Rajasthan, India, and etymologically, this form of art was derived from a Persian style. These paintings depict Hindu devotional themes and stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata, Life of lord Krishna, and different legends of Rajasthani war heroes. These paintings were found in miniature form but a major portion of Indian Rajasthani artwork was found on the walls of fortress, palaces, inner chamber of royal court, and in Shekhawati havelis. The colors used in these painting were created from different minerals, diverse plant sources, and sometimes from conch shells, and there was a custom of deriving colors by processing costly stones, gold and silver.

Mughal painting: Developed at the time of Mughal dynasty in India, between 16th and 19th century, these paintings reflect a special amalgamation of Indian, Persian and Islamic art styles. The Mughal paintings in India circled around themes like battles, receptions, hunting scenes, legendary stories, portraits and more. Apart from Indian museums and different Mughal buildings, the Victoria and Albert Museums in London too have a huge and extraordinary collection of Mughal paintings collected mainly from India.

Pattachitra: A special type of folk painting from the state of Orissa  ‘Patta’ means ‘Vastra’ or ‘clothings’ and ‘chitra’ stands for paintings. This form of pictures is painted on a cloth base. The practice of Pattachitra is closely associated with the devotion of Lord Jagannath. Apart from the mesmerizing evidence of sculpture and paintings on the cave walls of Khandagiri and Udayagiri, and Konark temple, there are other temples in Orissa where these pattachitras are found in abundance. In the Indian history of art, Pattachitras are said to be of special significance as they are the earliest native painting stream from Orissa. Pattachitras were usually done by the Chitrakars.

Warli Art: A  400-year old tribal art that came from a village called Warli. It is a 2- dimensional painting work, with no specific angle or proportion. These paintings appear uncomplicated and linear with optimum use of triangular shapes, and are usually painted by married women. Here the cycle of death and birth was an inevitable subject of each of the artwork.

Indian indigenous painting style and tradition offers an artistic range that expands from the early civilization to this modern era. From being a fundamentally religious in idea at its initial stage, Indigenous paintings have developed over the years to become a synthesis of diverse ethnicity and traditions.

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