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Prabal Pramanik's Academy of Arts
Bhamlada, Punjab -145 022, India
Mobile : 09417735631/09417170998

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ISBN No. 978-93-81200-03-2


Painting on miniature formal in Indian
subcontinent in context to Pahari painting

The traditional of painting on small formats has prevailed in India from ancient times.
Hand written Manuscripts served the purpose of books in ancient India. In many places of eastern India, Leaves of the toddy palm tree and at some other places birch bank were used for manuscript making. Tad leaves (toddy palm leaves) are segmented, and each segment is not much wide (two to three inches) but are much longer.
The manuscripts written on tad leaves were often illustrated with small yet colourful pictures related to the text. The area of work was much smaller than that of Pahari paintings.
Tad leaf illustrations are found in manuscripts during Pal and Sen dynasties of Bengal and later too.
It is quite possible that tad leaf illustrations were made much earlier too as it is quite obvious that tad leaves, that was reality available to the local people there, were used for manuscript writing from earlier periods.
In Orissa fine tad leaf painting and drawing exists even today, and this tradition like Bengal tad leaf painting must have been prevalent from the ancient times.
Painting on terracota round surfaces, "sara" was common in Bengal from olden times. These are small earthen surfaces about ten inches or less in diameter.
Mythological pictures were painted on them and these were used for decoration and also for religious purpose.
"Sara" painting is still done in modern times. Tad leaf painting and sara painting are schools of miniature paintings that are likely have existed long before paper was introduced in India.
I am not including pata chitra of Bengal amongst miniatures, as "Patas" or paintings made on paper are not very wide but they can be very long and rolled-up.
Ganjifa cards are small round cards that were used for playing in India for centuries. The format is generally much smaller than that of Pahari miniature paintings.
Ganjifa cards were painted in detail showing mythological subjects.
Jainistic miniature tradition is likely to be much older than Pahari paintings and the story telling quality of these paintings is superb.
In Rajasthan many forms of miniature painting developed and these painting schools exist even today.
It is quite possible that the Pahari miniature painters were originally from Rajasthan, but exposure to Persian miniature paintings had changed their process and technique of painting.
Persian painters who excelled in painting on small formats came to India worked in the courts of Mughal kings.
Many of the annals of the Mughal kings were very well illustrated by these miniature painters. A fusion of Rajasthani miniature painting schools and Persian miniature schools created Mughal school of miniature painting.
The painters who worked in the court of Mughal emperors, whether Hindus or Muslims, developed this school and many of these artists spread out to other principalities in search greener pastures.
Lack of the patronization during the rule of Aurangzeb in Mughal durbar forced many artists to leave the court and seek their markets elsewhere.
Many of them came to hill states and were instrumental in the development of Pahari Miniature paintings.
I infer that artists in Basholi came much earlier and they may not have been from Mughal court.
They may have come as migratory artists from Rajasthan. The style of work in Basholi is strikingly different from that other miniature paintings.
In Punjab miniature painting styles developed at places like Patiala too. In Uttar Pradesh, detailed work showing land and people of some areas were made on miniature formats by artists who obviously received training from European artists.
Painting on miniature formats have continued in India both in traditional and contemporary forms in later ages.
New experimentations in art introduced through the influence western and far eastern art forms created new chapters in the History of modern Indian painting.
Painting on miniature formats have prominent places in Bengal school of art and also in Patna school of art.
Creative experimentation of contemporary art has been done on different sized formats including miniature formats in modern India.
It is interesting to note that the expanse and dimension of landscape painting has been made on miniature formats too by artists like Bireshwar Sen from Bengal, adding new aspects to the art of painting on miniature formats.

Prabal Pramanik
(from the published book "My views on Pahari paintings")
ISBN No. 978-93-81200-03-2

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Prabal Pramanik



The articles presented here are from the published book "My views on Pahari paintings" by Prabal Pramanik published by M/s Orient Book Company. These articles are original. These articles are not compilations made from other articles and no chapter or portion of these articles have been taken from any other published work.
These articles are from my own published work, with ISBN number, and these are copyright reserved.
Anyone found to print or publish or use in any form in the internet or in print media these articles or portions from these articles without the prior written permission of the author and publisher will be liable to pay damages to the author and publisher.
The pictures displayed here are by artists who have passed away more than fifty years ago. According to international copyright act, art works and written matter become public domain, fifty years after the death of the artist and the writer.
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