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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


The influence of natural environment on
the artists of Pahari Schools of art

When the migrant artists came and settled in the hill kingdoms they must have been pleased by the beauty of the area.
Nature, through rarely the subject matter in their works, plays as a stylized backdrop and flora and fauna of hills often took their miniature shapes in a decorative way within the stylized format.
Plum blossoms were often painted with great delicacy. Kangra valley has lots of mango trees and plantains are also grown in this altitude. So we find these in Kangra paintings too.
High hills or mountains serve as backdrop only and the view generally is from the valley. Pahari painting showing the view from the high altitude in the mountain to the valley will be rare indeed if not nonexistent.
The towns of Kangra and Chamba nestled in the valleys and still do so. So it was quite normal for the artists to have taken this view point.
Depiction of nature is often symbolic and the symbolic aspect has been based of classical Indian aesthetics.
We can cite the example of the mango tree and the madhavi creeper.
Madhavi creeper is often shown being supported by the mango tree.
This simbolizes the relation between man and women. The woman like the flowering creeper is seeking the support of the man, symbolized by sturdy mango tree.
This allegory is found in some romantic miniature paintings. Lotus, is a flower often seen in the compositions and some other flowers too are found in the art works. Lotus is a spiritual symbol as well as a romantic one.
The artists in the olden times seemed to be quite selective when choosing a flower, a plant or a tree to be introduced in the painting in Pahari schools of art.
The landscape painter who paints for the beauty of the landscape is not so selective, and paints whatever tree, bush or flower that grows in natural manner in the area he is painting.
Since the pictorial compositions of Pahari schools of art were not landscape paintings, this sweeping view of nature for the sake of nature itself is nonexistent here.
The depiction of animals is also interesting. Generally, the animals had been painted when the subject matter of the artwork was connected with that particular animal.
In such instances, the animals depicted are a part of the story told in the miniature painting. Domesticated animals like cows, calves, horses, elephants and dogs have been painted with great care when the subject matter of the art work required those animals to be included in the composition.
Sometimes it seems that the chieftains wanted to have their favourite horses to be portrayed and in such instances the animal was the main subject.
Amongst the wild animals, antilopes, monkeys, tigers, snakes etc. have been painted in animated fashion. Sometimes other animals too have been painted according to the need of the subject matter.
In Mughal art, "shikar" or hunt was more frequently shown. The hunting scenes naturally include several wild animals as well as the horses or elephants carrying some of the hunters.
I found that, nature, with plants and animals would be depicted in the compositions when it was necessary to do so for the sake of the subject matter, and this depiction often involved direct or indirect allegories in North Indian miniature paintings.
Since the delivery of the message was very important through story telling and personification in Pahari schools of paintings, the theme was very clearly and pointedly presented in these paintings. Even when the message was spiritual, the metaphysical aspect was personified and given a figurative form to deliver the message.
Such personification fitted in easily with the classical Hindu philosophy. Moreover, this sort of presentation was easily understood by the patrons and admirers of these paintings when they were produced by the artists in the olden days.
Nature with suitable flora and fauna was modified and rerepresented to support this story telling method, often in a symbolic way that appealed to the people who were oriented with that symbolic interpretation.
Nayaka, or the Nayika the main subjective figurers of the paintings were of central attention and other figures and nature even serve to support and elaborate the moods or the Bhava of Nayaka or Nayika.
This way of reflecting human moods through nature is unique and gives Pahari paintings a special place in the history of Indian art.

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.
This website has been created for the benefit of art lovers and for those who want to appreciate Pahari art paintings

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