YOU ARE WELCOME TO VISIT OUR OTHER WEB SITES
Prabal Pramanik's Academy of Arts
Bhamlada, Punjab -145 022, India
Mobile : 09417735631/09417170998
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
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
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
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
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
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
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