MINIATURE PAINTINGS IN INDIA (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Art and Culture)

News-CRUX-10     1st July 2024        

Context: Delhi endured heavy rainfall, with artist Arpana Caur overseeing the assessment and preservation of centuries-old miniature and folk art paintings in the museum located at the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature in Siri Fort Institutional Area, amidst the flooding.

Miniature Paintings in India

  • Origin: The term "miniature" derives from the Latin "minimum," meaning red lead paint, reflecting its early association with small-scale painting.
  • Emergence in India: Indian miniature paintings have a rich history on the subcontinent, with distinct regional schools developing diverse styles and compositions.
  • Regional Development: The Western Himalayas saw the emergence of Indian miniature paintings around the 17th century, influenced by earlier mural traditions.
  • Patronage and Influence: Throughout the Mughal era, Indian miniature paintings flourished with support from Deccan Muslim rulers, Malwa kings, and Hindu Rajas of Rajasthan, blending Persian artistic traditions with indigenous styles.
  • There are two renowned institutions of higher learning.

oPala School of Art: Flourished from 750 to 1150 AD, known for paintings on vellum paper or palm leaf manuscripts.

oApabhramsa School of Art: Originated in Gujarat and Mewar, dominated western Indian art from the 11th to 15th centuries, later integrating Vaishnava and Jain motifs.

  • Features:

oArtistic Craftsmanship: Miniature paintings are meticulously handcrafted, renowned for intricate details and vibrant colors despite their small size.

oBrushwork: Indian miniatures are characterized by delicate brushwork that defines their unique style and aesthetic appeal.

oTraditional Materials: These paintings use hand-mixed paints sourced from natural elements like gold, silver, minerals, plants, and precious stones.

oTechnical Requirements: Miniature paintings are limited to 25 square inches and depict subjects at no more than 1/6th of actual size, adhering to specific guidelines.

oStylistic Characteristics: Common features include side-profile human figures with distinctive traits like bulging eyes, sharp noses, and thin waists, varying by regional school.

  • Examples: The portrait of Jahangir. This miniature is in the collection of the National Museum, New Delhi.