Kangra, Pahari Miniatures: Paintings of Krishna, Radha and Bathing Woman

Pahari: Paintings of Krishna and Radha. Paintings of Love and deotion. Miniature Paintings, Indian Miniatures, Mughal Miniatures, Paintings from Medieval India, Paintings from Rajasthan in Rajput style. Kangra Style of Painting.

Gopis searching for Krishna, Bhagavata Purana, c1780. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper.

The Kangra Miniature paintings affiliated with the Pahari School had made a notable contribution to the 18th century art of India. Miniatures are intricate and colorful illuminations or paintings, small in size, executed meticulously with delicate brushwork. The history of Indian Miniature Paintings can be traced to the 6-7th century AD. But mainly it flourished in eighteenth century. Miniature Paintings have evolved over centuries carrying the influence of other cultures.

Miniatures are intricate, colorful illuminations or paintings, small in size, executed meticulously with delicate brushwork. The history of Indian Miniature Paintings can be traced to the 6-7th century AD. Miniature Paintings have evolved over centuries carrying the influence of other cultures. The miniature artists gave self-expression on paper, ivory panels, wooden tablets, leather, marble, cloth and walls. Indian artists employed multiple perspectives unlike their European counterparts in their paintings. The idea was to convey reality that existed beyond specific vantage point.

The artists who created Indian miniatures used various materials to give their products a unique appearance. They used, minerals, vegetables, precious stones, indigo, conch shells, pure gold and silver were used to detail the masterly executed drawings. The themes they depicted, too, were rich in culture and deep in meaning. Among the popular themes were the depiction of incidences from the scriptures like Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Bhagvata Purana.

These artists illustrated the scenes from books like Rasikpriya and Rasamanjiri, telling us the story of that period. They educate us about the life and habits of the kings and their pursuits, their lifestyles and court proceedings.

Krishna welcomes Sudama, Bhagavata Purana, 17th century, India. Color and gold on paper. (Images Courtesy Wikimedia Commons )

Kangra Style Painting of Bathing Woman

Indian Miniature paintings, Adoring Natural Beauty of females in Rajasthan style of paintings. Ragmala Painting.

Kangra Miniature Painting, Raga Telangi

If we look at the work of Miniature paintings Bathers done in medieval period, we can see that the artists had skillfully adorned the natural beautify of female figures in their artworks.

Miniatures: The Miniature Paintings style is believed to be evolved in the period of Mughal Dynasty. Due to that it is called as Mughal Miniature Paintings, too. However with the passing of time, this art of miniature paintings had become inclusive; and all other cultures prevailing in the medieval of India had been represented in the art. The above painting is one of the nicest illustrations of the paintings of the bathers done in miniature style. The artist also tried to depict the essence of certain classical Raga in their artworks. This painting is example of depiction of Raga Telangi.

Miniature Paintings Of Radha and Krishna

Whenever the Indian artists searched for the subjects, they had found a rich treasure in the form of the incidents narrated in mythology. The religion has played a great role in providing the subject matter for paintings. The Miniature artists, including those working under patronage of Mughal Emperors, were also not exception to this trend of selecting mythological subjects.
Radha and Krishna

MYTHOLOGY: The scriptures and religions books of written by Hindu saints were a great source for the subject to paint. The chosen for the purpose of miniature paintings were mainly Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagvata Purana, Rasikpriya, Rasamanjiri and the books narrating the classical music of Indian tradition. Many painters and their sponsor kings have selected books of other cults and religions, too. They have painted many miniatures depicting the subjects narrated in the books of Jainism and Buddhism. Indian miniature paintings present before us a sweeping introduction to a recognized genre of art. Here the range of subjects is strikingly rich. The artists got sponsorship from the emperors and sultans ruling in Muslim kingdoms and the rajas and princes ruling in Hindu areas.

Schools of Painting: There were several schools of painting in medieval India; some of them were Kangra, Phad, Deccan, Tanjor, Rajasthan, and Kalighat painting schools. The region of Rajasthan, the then Rajaputana, was the main area wherein the art of miniature painting had flourished. There were sub regions in Rajasthan, like Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kangra and Mewar. But all the artists painting under these schools had preferred the miniature style of painting. However based on Persian miniature paintings, the mughal miniature paintings had undergone several modifications in India.

Among the mythological subjects, the love scenes of Lord Krishna and his lover Radha claim major portion. The artistic depiction of playfulness of the life of Krishna and Radha would occupy an artist on one hand; an on another, it would rivet the attention and claim devotion from the viewers, too. After the spread of Hindu religious cult known as ‘Vaishnva’, the paintings of Radha and Krishna have remained a source of entertainment and worship for the people of India.

In the above painting of Radha and Lord Krishna, we can see the lover couple playing with colours. According to Indian custom, festival of Holi is the festival of colours. This festival is observed for one week in some parts of India. People spray solid and liquid colours on each other and play. Friends and relatives play together and enjoy the life with the colours. (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
The Painting given above is depiction of poem written in the book named Git Govind. These poems are written by poet Jaidev, poems narrating the love and worship relationship between lord Krishna and his beloved Radha and the other village girls of Vrindavan area where Lord Krishna lived in his childhood. (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Painting Materials: The materials miniature artists used came from the local markets. These artists used surfaces like paper, ivory articles and wooden panels, including the furniture made from wood. The use of cloth was also in vogue in certain regions of central and southern parts of India. Other surfaces like leather and marble were also used for the art pieces commissioned by Mughal Emperors or Rajput princes. These miniature artists tried conveying reality that remained beyond a specific vantage point; they employed multiple perspectives while doing their work on various mediums.

The Art: In order to make the paintings more natural, the Kangra artists used only the colours which were extracted from natural materials like minerals and vegetables. In these paintings the subjects were generally taken from the Hindu scriptures and the books of mythologies. Many painting depicted the events narrated in the books Gita Govinda by Jaydev and Baramasa written by Keshavdas. The religious figures like Krishnaand Radha were the major source for the Kangra style artists. They painted this couple as eternal lovers, rejoicing the moments of love. The Kangra style of miniature paintings is known for beautifully portraying the famine charm of Indian women with natural grace. (Image courtesy Wikipedia)

Schools of Painting: The miniature paintings is perhaps the most interesting and the distinctive styles that have existed in India and in Rajasthan in particular. From the start of the sixteenth century here flourished different schools of paintings. Some of them are Kangra painting , PHAD PAINTING , Deccan Miniature, Tanjore painting, MUGHAL MINIATURES , RAJASTHAN PAINTINGS, the Mewar School, the Bundi-Kota kalam, the Jaipur, Bikaner, Kishengarh and Marwar schools.

There were many schools of miniature paintings that flourished with the assistance of the local kings. The paintings styles like Kangra Miniatures of the Pahari School, was one of such school of art. It was practiced mainly during the eighteenth century. Though influenced by mughal style; the Kangra style it had retained its distinctiveness in respect of the subject matters and the use of exotic settings.

The themes of the paintings made in the area of Rajasthan, India depicted variety of themes and subjects. Their themes included the Ragas or musical codes of Indian Classical music. There were three primary schools of Indian Miniature Paintings - one the Rajput School that flourished in Rajasthan, the western part of India. Second was the scholl of the painter who lived under the region of Mughal Kings, and the third school was the Deccan school, in southern part of India.

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