An Introduction to Indian Paintings & Types

Art is a powerful medium. It drives man towards fully expressing his inner essence and appreciation of Nature. Man’s taste for arts is time immemorial, and perhaps, even eternal. Arts have had a direct impact on his life, religion, culture and religion from the epoch of the first civilization on Earth. Indian paintings, by large, is one of the most ancient art forms. Indian Paintings, like our very own country, are unique, remarkable and splendid. Be it the Buddhist Manuscript Paintings, the Ajanta & Ellora’s Mural paintings, the Jain texts, Mughal, Kangra type of miniature painting, South Deccan, among others, Indian paintings have definitely emerged forefront from the days of the Indus valley civilization to the present day.

Indian paintings shared cultural syncretism with Greco-Roman as well Chinese and Iranian art influences. A look at some of the cave paintings in different parts of the country is mind-blowing. The earliest paintings of the pre-historic era in the caves all over the world nurture and stimulate our artistic eyes. The pre-historic cave paintings in several regions of the country give us a vivid picture of life and culture of the bygone times.

The art of painting has mobilized the vehicle of both expression as well as communication from the earliest known point in history. The art of painting reached its apex during the Satavahana period (2nd – 1st B.C.) and also the Gupta – Vakataka period (5th- 6th A.D.) Indian paintings are one of the most ancient art forms throughout the pages of history. Indian paintings have galvanized spiritual beliefs, social and religious movements and in general, the society.

Indian Paintings can be largely classified into miniatures paintings and mural paintings. Mural paintings are found on the paintings on ceilings, walls or other big permanent surfaces such as those found in the Kailasnath temple and the Ajanta Caves. It was between the 2nd century BC and 10th century AD that mural paintings flourished owing to influence of Indian culture. There are more than twenty regions in India famous for Mural paintings starting from the ancient to medieval period. Mural paintings from this era represent various religious themes of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Miniature paintings are developed on a very small scale on perishable materials like cloth and paper. They are pretty much smaller in size, though they are beautifully crafted, colourful with intricate and meticulous brushwork. Miniature paintings, at large, depict the rich tradition and culture of the Indian sub-continent.

The colours employed in miniatures are normally sourced from natural materials and organic dyes. The art of miniature paintings reached its zenith during the rule of the Mughals. There were several painters of various Rajasthani schools of paintings like the Kishangarh, Bundi, Marwar, Mewar and Jaipur that continued to follow and adopt the tradition of miniature paintings. The Ragamala paintings were also a part of this school. The Mughal Paintings, Rajput Paintings, Pahari Paintings, Mysore Painting, Tanjore Paintings, Madhubani paintings and Patachitra paintings never fail to dazzle and mesmerize art lovers and collectors at International art exhibitions and galleries.