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INDIAN MINIATURE PAINTINGS : PHAD, KANGRA, PAHADI AND DECCAN MINIATURES

Theme: Traditional and Folk Paintings of India. Rajasthan Style of Paintings.

The Phad painting is popular style of folk painting. The painting under this style is done on a long piece of cloth. This is one of the painting styles practiced in northern India, especially in rural areas, since ancient time. Thematically these paintings are the depiction of deities and mythological stories, including the legends adoring the brave kings and Rajput idols of who were famous in Rajasthan. Here is an illustration of painting done under the style of Kangra Miniatures of the Pahari School that had made a mark in the 18th century.

What is Phad Painting

The Art: Phad is a type of scroll painting. Artists paint these paintings on a long cloth, the piece of cloth being of generally two types in lengths, either of fifteen feet of thirty feet long. They used bright and subtle colors, mainly extracted from the vegetables and the materials locally available. The modus operandi of executing the phad painting is also unique. First they draw outlines of the paintings drawn in several blocks. Then these blocks are filled with different colors.

Art and Religion: It is interesting to note that the traditional art of phad painting is one type of folk paintings, particularly practiced by the artists who harly get any sponsorship for their works. But it has remained attached with and popular among the mass of people. It is because the subject matters of these paintings revolve around either the heroic acts or mythological stories. In the time when the illiteracy was the rule of the day, such story telling with artistic representation became the only available too for spreading and maintaining the religion. The stories of Hindu religion and its various sects went to the masses through these artists.

The Artists: There are sects or castes among the people particularly in Rajasthan whose family profession is to entertain the people by singing folk songs of heroes in public programs. The subject of Phad Paintings remain the life and events of Prince 'Pabuji" who is worshipped in Rajasthan. the community known as Bhopa are priest singers for the 'Pabuji' followers. These folk singers use the artworks done by the phad painters. The paintings depicting Pabuji and other Gods and Goddesses are used by these singers and worshippers as mobile temples. Keeping one painting before a crowd of people, they start singing and narrating the incidences painted on the scroll.The phad Phad painting, which is done on cloth, is one of the paintings styles practiced from ancient times. Thematically these paintings are the depiction of Indian deities and their stories, including the legends of Rajasthani rulers.

What is Kangra, Pahadi Painting


Kangra painting is the pictorial art of the people living in the region of Himachal Pradesh, situated in the northern part of India. This area also is well-known for its beauty of Himalayan Mountains. With the help of erstwhile princely states, the paintings style of Kangra flourished in the years of mid eighteenth century.

Raja Sansar Chand of the small kingdom of Kangra, in present day Himachal Pradesh, India. Behind him is his captain of the guard, O'Brien, an Irish deserter of British East India Company.

It is believed that a team of Kashmiri painters, trained in Mughal Miniature painting needed shelter. It was the time of first half of 18 th century when the Mughal dynasty was declining, losing its importance as main supporter of the art of painting. The team of Kashmiri artists got due support and shelter at ‘Guler’, a small hilly state in the Himalayan region.

The paintings done under the style and nomenclature of Kangra paintings are in fact one of the school of paintings under the schools of miniature paintings known as Pahari style of painting prevalent in northern India since centuries. But the Kangra painting got such a speedy and huge recognition among the art lovers that the whole set of Pahari paintings came to be known as Kangra paintings.

The painting shown here is of Maharaj Sansar Chand. He was king of a state that was situated in lower Himalayans. The Kangra School painters coming from Kashmir got proper assistance from King Sansar Chand. The art of Kangra painting reached at it’s zenith during the time of King Sansar Chand (1765 – 1823).

Subjects of Kangra Paintings : Like PHAD PAINTING, RAJASTHAN PAINTINGS, and MUGHAL MINIATURES, the painters working under the Kangra School of paintings chose traditional subjects. One was the depiction of local environment, that was Shringar for these artists. The word Shringar refers to the tastes for beauty, and sometimes the tastes for eroticism, among the viewers. So these painters have marvellously depicted the beauty of Indian men and women and their costumes in their miniature paintings.

The second main pool of the subjects for Kangra paintings, like Tanjore painting, came form the religious and literary books of Indian mythology and the popular literature. The depiction of the scenes described in these books became the popular there for the Kangra miniature artists. These scenes included the scenes of worship and love between Krishna and Gopis, the young girls who were in love with Krishna. These scenes are known as Krishna-Lila.

The depictions from the book Geet Govindam, a book of poems written by poet Jaidev were also occupied the most of the time of the Kangra miniature painters. [Images courtesy By Indischer Maler von 1662 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Wikemedia Commons and See page for author [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

Deccan Miniatures

The school of painting that had flourished under sponsorship of kings of south India was tagged as Deccan School of painting.

Fairies return Manohar

The Deccan miniatures were influenced by the Mughal and Rajasthan style of miniature paintings. Printed in Madhumalati, the painting given here is an illustration to the Sufi mystic story Madhumalati. Madumalti is a story of romance and love or prince Manohar and his lover Madhumalati. Their story is full of love, and suffering of separation and reunion. Written in poetic language, it is a story full of symbolism; the concept of Sufism is embedded in this tale of Manohar and Madhumalati, which has become subject of many artworks.

History Of Deccan Painting

Deccan Miniature painting school was operative in southern part of India in medieval period and later years. Miniature Paintings style had evolved in Northern part of India. It developed under the active support of Mughal Emperors and Rajput Kings of India during seventeenth and eighteenth century. India is a vast country, so the art travelled to the south part of the land, too. The art of painting carried with it the influence and flavor of the culture it represented. The art of painting prevalent in other parts of India were greatly influenced by what was going on in north part. During the same period, Deccan Miniature painting school was operative in southern part of India.

Materials Used in Deccan Miniatures

The artists who practiced this style lived in the cities of Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, Golconda, and Aurangabad. Deccan Miniature artists used the same materials their counterparts in north India used. These artists depicted their art on paper, ivory articles, wooden furniture, and other pieces made from leather and marble. They used even cloth made from silk and cotton fibers. Some of the paintings are on the walls of temples and houses of the princes.

Style of Painting

For conveying reality that was beyond specific vantage point, the Mughal miniature artists had employed concept of multiple perspectives. The artists of Deccan miniatures also applied the same technique in their artworks. However the stories depicted by the paintings were different.

If we observe their work with artistic eyes, we can see that the Deccan artists were influenced by the style of Persian and Turkish painters. However they had tried creating a synthesis of foreign and indigenous styles of painting. That resulted in a great mix of a charming tradition. We can see that most of the paintings done under this style were theme based artworks.

It was not that the Deccan miniature artists copied the works done in the northern part of country. They had refined the style that was prevalent in seventeenth century. While maintaining the rhythmic delicacy of mughal miniatures, Deccan painters had added the sensuality of southern art into their paintings.

The male figures painted by these artists were charming and their complexions were fair. They looked emotionally charged. The females painted were more sensual than the women painted in mughal miniatures. These artists had also injected the elements of restraint and reality, which they had borrowed from contemporary European artists. (Image courtesy By Unknown. From The Rose-Garden of Love, made in Hyderabad between 1741 and 1743. Deccan School, India. Now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

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