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Prabal Pramanik's Academy of Arts
Bhamlada, Punjab -145 022, India
Mobile : 09417735631/09417170998
ISBN No. 978-93-81200-03-2
|Pictures that tell stories
aspects of pahari schools of art has impressed me greatly ever since I was introduced to
these schools of art in my childhood.
Spread out on a miniature format, each picture tells a story. Often the one single picture
incorporates different scenes of the story on the same format.
So, it is not strange to find different events of a story painted in a correlated way in
the same environment on one single sheet of paper.
This reminds me of the comic srtips that we see in modern times. The artists of pahari
schools of art, naturally laid great emphasis on the story that their art works were
Imagine a world without television or cinemas, magazines or internet.
It was a world where storytelling was a major form of entertainment and a way to pass the
Mythological tales as well as tales of valour and love received their due attention and
were passed on from generation to generation.
In this world where storytelling was an important vocal medium of instruction, Pahari
schools of art provided illustrative images to societies closed up by nature and social
Tales steeped in tradition, with lingering morals and philosophy from the past, were
retold through these miniature paintings of Pahari schools of art, filled in painstakingly
and lovingly with immense amount of details in decorative mode.
Sometimes entire sets of paintings were made on a single tale in a step by step manner.
These interconnected illustrations are delightful pictorial "story books"
created with great care undoubtedly for some demanding patron.
The accuracy of the illustrations prove the knowledge of the artists about the classical
and folk lore they depicted. Perhaps they took the help of "pandits" or scholars
when interpreting the classical tales.
A discerning patron was expected to understand the story told through the miniature
paintings and enjoy the illustrative aspect of the picture.
Instead of propagating crude violence of modern comics in this materialistic society, the
stories told through Pahari schools of art were often filled with subtle and ancient
I think that every form of art suffers and loses much of the impact when over
commercialized and this applies to Pahari schools of art too. Today the subtle philosophy
and the propagation of ancient wisdom is of little value but the commercial aspect is
taken as the evaluating factor in this traditional form of art.
In the world of art, the purpose for the creative exercise is a vital factor and this
purpose determines the relevance of the art form.
As storytelling was one of the main purposes of Pahari paintings, the aesthetic
appreciation of Pahari paintings should be made in this context too.
Even a modern viewer would find these paintings much more meaningful and interesting if he
or she can comprehend the tales these pictures tell.
Prabal Pramanik ©
(from the published book
"My views on Pahari paintings")
ISBN No. 978-93-81200-03-2