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India has been the home of arts and crafts since primitive times and painting is no exception to this fact. Indians knew the art of painting since prehistoric times. Earliest cave paintings depicting various scenes are the ample testimony of this fact. Caves of Bhimbetka and Ajanta are the milestones which Indian Painting's heritage passes through.

Indian Paintings can be broadly classified as the murals and miniatures.

Murals are huge works executed on the walls of solid structures, as in the Ajanta Caves and the Kailashnath temple.

Miniature paintings are executed on a very small scale on perishable material such as paper and cloth. The Palas of Bengal were the pioneers of miniature painting in India. The art of miniature painting reached its glory during the Mughal period. The Ragamala paintings also belong to this school.

Here are the categories which will take you through the big world of Indian Paintings covering minute details.

Madhubani Paintings
There is a village called Madhuban in Mithila region of India where a special kind of painting style evolved, which is nowadays called Madhubani Painting. It is also called Mithila painting . Traditionally these paintings were done on the freshly plastered mud walls of huts but now they are done on paper, canvas and cloths too. These paintings are done by village women folks. These paintings are three-dimensional in view blooming with the colors extracted from the plants grown locally. There are certain symbols that represent the insight of Madhubani Paintings. The symbols like ring of lotus ( kamalban or purain) and bamboo tree were commonly used to adorn the walls. It is interesting fact to note that both the symbols are associated with the fertility and progeny.

Warli Folk Paintings
This unique kind of painting style was discovered in early seventies of twentieth century.Warli paintings are strikingly different from other forms of Indian Paintings.The theme of these paintings also does not move around mythological stories or any glorification of similar kind. These paintings are made in austere brown background with white as only color. The only exception is red and yellow spots that are auspiciously put to decorate the painting. These paintings are special for many reasons. Most remarkable thing is their intensely social nature.These paintings describe the day today activities of Warlis in light swinging and swirling movements.Scholars trace their origin in Neolithic Age that extends from 3000 B.C. to 2500 B.C.

Tanjore Paintings
Tamil Nadu is known for its traditional ornate paintings, known as Tanjore paintings. This art originated in the 16th century, under royal patronage. These paintings are created after a meticulous and long drawn process, which involves many stages. Layers of cloth are pasted over wood, to create the base for painting. This is treated with lime paste, to make the surface smooth for painting.The next step involves, drawing outlines of the figures. Later pearls, semi-precious stones, beaten gold leaf and gilt metal are stuck on the image with a mixture of sawdust and glue.

Natural Dye Paintings
Before the advent of science and the synthesis of chemical colors, Indian artists used materials available in nature, to color their paintings. The natural dye paintings of India used colors derived from roots and leaves, minerals and other materials readily obtainable.Some of these dyes were used by themselves; others required a mordant to help them bind to the fabric.

Kalamkari Paintings
The literal meaning of kalamkari is a painting done using pen.Kalamkari is an ancient craft which traces its origin 3000 years ago.It's an art of painting as well as printing using vegetable dyes.Kalamkari belongs to India and Iran historically. This art forms has been enriched through generations as the techniques of craftsmanship are given as heritage to the descendents. In India two ancient cities of Andhra Pradesh are almost synonymous with Kalamkari, are Masulipatnam and Srikalahasti.both cities produce their own style of kalamkari paintings.

Phad Paintings
Rajasthan the land of colors is known for Phad painting, which is done on cloth. This type of painting is mainly found in the Bhilwara district. The main theme of these paintings is the depiction of local deities and their stories, and legends of erstwhile local rulers. Phad is a type of scroll painting. These paintings are created while using bright and subtle colors.

Pichwais Paintings
Rajasthan is also known for Pichwais, which are paintings made on cloth. Pichwais are more refined and detailed than Phads. They are created and used as backdrops in the Shrinathji temple at Nathdwara and in other Krishna temples

Kangra Paintings
India's rich painting heritage encapsulates diversified shades in the world of paitings.The Kangra Miniatures of the Pahari School is also an integral part of Traditional Indian Paintings.This art form made a mark in the 18th century. Kangra School of miniature paintings was influenced by the Mughal Miniature style of painting, though it successfully retained its distinctiveness.These ethnic indian paintings were naturalistic and employed cool, fresh colors.Painters explored endless themes for their paintings from the texts of the Gita Govinda, Bhiari's Satsai,etc. Similarily the eternal love of Krishna and Radha rejoicing the moments of love was also portrayed very frequently.

Mughal Paintings
Mughal paintings of India date back to the period between the 16 th and 18 th century, when the Mughals ruled a large part of the country.The art of Mughal painting was introduced by the Mughal emperor Humayun.Mughal painting reached its acme during the reign of Akbar, and also flourished during Jahangir's rule, as well as Shah Jahan's.The medieval period is remembered for the Persian styled miniature paintings introduced by the Mughals. Not only were Mughal miniatures great masterpieces, they also influenced local miniature schools in Rajasthan, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

Folk Art Paintings
India's folk art paintings are India's pride, for they are the untouched specimens of an age old tradition.Using the basic material available to them, they create artistic pieces that are attractive in their rudimentary simplicity.

Pahari Paintings
Various schools of miniature painting collectively called Pahari, flourished between the 17th and 19th centuries in the sub-Himalayan states towards the end of the Mughal rule in India. This art dwelt largely on the themes and symbols from literature and mythology. A typical Pahari composition consists of several figures skillfully grouped and full of movement, and each is distinctive in terms of clothing, hairstyle and even pigmentation, which may be blue, white, pink or grey. The Pahari paintings can be classified into two groups: a northern series called the Jammu or Dogra school and the southern series called the Kangra school.

Prehistoric Bhimbetka Paintings
The pre-historic Bhimbetka paintings were executed on quartzite walls of the rock shelters using minerals for pigments, the most common being ochre or geru mixed with lime or water or other medium. The paintings of the historic period overlap the earlier paintings and depict royal processions, battle scenes and men riding garrisoned horses. Conveying dynamism and movement, these paintings especially of animals, are extremely natural in their depiction.

It clearly reflects that Indian paintings provide an aesthetic continuum that extends from the early civilization to the present day. From being essentially religious in purpose in the beginning, Indian painting has evolved over the years to become a fusion of various cultures and traditions.

Indian Paintings

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