Miniature Painting Art

Indian Miniature Painting Art

The earliest Miniature Painting Art in India can be traced back to the 7th century AD, when they flourished under the patronage of the Palas of Bengal. Buddhist texts and scriptures were illustrated on 3-inch-wide palm leaf manuscripts, with images of Buddhist deities. Pala art was defined by subdued colours and sinuous lines, evocative of the murals in Ajanta.

While it was Buddhism in the east, it was Jainism that inspired the miniature artistic movement of the Western Indian style of miniature painting. This form prevailed in the regions of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Malwa, from the 12th-16th century AD. Jain manuscripts were illustrated using exaggerated physical traits, vigorous lines and bold colours.

Salient Features of Miniature Painting Art of India:

  • The Palas of Bengal were the pioneers
  • Glory during the Mughal period
  • The different schools of the Miniature paintings of India include:
    1. Mughal School
    2. Northern
      • Pahadi
    3. Eastern:
      • Pala School – Earliest
      • Orissa School –Pattachitra
      • Madhubhani
    4. Western School
      • Rajasthani/Rajput School
    5. Central:
      • Malwa,
      • Deccan
      • Jaunpur
    6. Southern:
      • Mysore
      • Tanjore
    7. Jain School
    8. Vernacular

Mughal School of Miniature painting Art:m2

  • Unique blend of Indian, Persian and Islamic styles
  • Tuti-nama – first work of the Mughal School.
  • Hamza-nama(illustrations on cloth)- more developed and refined than Tuti-nama.
  • Humayun:
    • Return-brought with him Persian artists – Mir-Sayyid Ali and Abd-us-samad.
    • Khamsa of Nizami with 36 illuminated pages
  • Akbar
    • Established in India an atelier
    • Hamzanama series, stories of Amir Hamza – painted on cloth
    • Elements of realism and naturalism coming to the fore.
  • Jehangir
    • Deeply influenced by European painting

Rajput School of Miniature Painting

  • Themes – events of epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, Krishna’s life, beautiful landscapes, and humans
  • Precious stones, Gold and silver were used
  • Mughal Influence
  • Dominance of Chaurapanchasika group style in Indian Rajasthani Paintings

Starting from the 16th century, when the Rajput Painting originated, numerous schools emerged, including:

Mewar School Chavand, Nathdwara, Devgarh, Udaipur and Sawar
Marwar school the Kishangarh, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Pali and Ghanerao styles
Hadoti school Kota, Bundi and Jhalawar styles
Dhundar school Amber, Jaipur, Shekhawati and Uniara styles
Pahari school Himachal (kangra & Kullu) & Jammu and Kashmir
  1. MEWARa1
  • Drawing is bold and the colours are bright and contrasting.
  • Text of the painting is written in black on the top against the yellow ground.
  1. BUNDI
  • a2Very close to the Mewar style
  • rich and glowing colours, the rising sun in golden colour, crimson-red horizon, overlapping and semi-naturalistic trees
  • Mughal influence is visible in the refined drawing of the faces.
  1. KOTAHa4
  • Very much akin to the Bundi style
  • Themes of tiger and bear hunt were very popular at Kotah.
  • most of the space is occupied by the hilly jungle which has been rendered with a unique charm.
  • This school of painting originated at Amber but later shifted to Jaipur, the new capital.
  • There is a fairly large number of portraits of the Jaipur rulers
  • a6Executed in a primitive and vigorous folk style
  • completely uninfluenced by the Mughal style.
  • A large number of miniatures comprising portraits, court scenes, series of the Ragamala and the Baramasa, etc. were executed from the 17th to 19th centuries at several centres of painting like Pali, Jodhpur and Nagour etc. in Marwar.
  1. BIKANERa7
  • Bikaner had close relations with the Mughals.
  • Some of the Mughal artists were given patronage by the Bikaner court
  • responsible for the introduction of a new style of painting having much similarity with the Mughal and the Deccani styles.
  • developed under the patronage of Raja Savant Singh (1748-1757 A.D.), who wrote devotional poetry in praise of Krishna
  • master painter Nihal Chand who, in his works, has been able to create visual images of his master’s lyrical compositions

Pahadi School of Miniature Painting:

  • Rajput paintings, made in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir states
  • Two Types:
    • Basohli and Kulu Style (Influenced by Chaurpanchasika style)
    • Guler and Kangra Style (Based on cooler colors and refinement)


  • Characterized by vigorous and bold line and strong glowing colours.
  • There is a change in the facial type which becomes a little heavier and also in the tree forms which assume a somewhat naturalistic character, which may be due to the influence of the Mughal painting.
  • general features – use of strong and contrasting colours, monochrome background, large eyes, bold drawing, use of beetles wings for showing diamonds in ornaments, narrow sky and the red

2.GULER (Jammu)p2

  • consisting of portraits of Raja Balwant Singh of Jasrota (a small place near Jammu) by Master Nainsukh.
  • He worked both at Jasrota and at Guler.
  • paintings are in a new naturalistic and delicate style marking a change from the earlier traditions of the Basohli art.
  • colours used are soft and cool.
  • inspired by the naturalistic style of the Mughal painting.


  • third phase of the Pahari painting in the last quarter of the 18th century.
  • developed out of the Guler style.
  • the faces of women in profile have the nose almost in line with the forehead, the eyes are long and narrow and the chin is sharp.
  • There is, however, no modelling of figures and hair is treated as a flat mass.

4.KULU – MANDlp4

  • a folk style of painting, mainly inspired by the local tradition.
  • style is marked by bold drawing and the use of dark and dull colours.
  • Though influence of the Kangra style is observed in certain cases yet the style maintains its distinct folkish character.

Mysore Miniature Painting:

  • Evolved from the paintings of Vijayanagar times
  • Similar to Tanjore Paintings.
  • Raja Wodeyar I (1578–1617 A.D) — >Tipu Sultan — > Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (1799-1868 AD)
  • After colouring the figures, the artists would turn to elaboration of the faces, dress and ornaments including the gesso work (gold covering), which is an important feature of Mysore painting

Gesso Work:

  • Gesso work was the hallmark of all traditional paintings of Karnataka.
  • Gesso refers to the paste mixture of white lead powder, gambose and glue which is used as an embossing material and covered with gold foil.

Tanjore Paintings

  • Dense composition, surface richness and vibrant colors
  • Embellishments of semi-precious stones, pearls and glass pieces
  • 16th century, under the reign of the Cholas
  • Theme of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, along with saints.

Madhubani Miniature Painting: v0

  • Madhubani painting or Mithila painting is a style of Maithil painting, practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar state, India, and the adjoining parts of Terai in Nepal.
  • Painting is done with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks, using natural dyes and pigments, and is characterized by eye-catching geometrical patterns.
  • For each occasion and festival
  • Traditionally done on freshly plastered mud walls and floors of huts, but now they are also done on cloth, handmade paper and canvas.
  • GI


  • Traditional, cloth-based scroll painting, based in Odisha
  • depict stories of Hindu deities -specially inspired by Jagannath and Vaishnava cult
  • Palm leaf pattachitra which is in Oriya language known as Tala Pattachitra drawn on palm leaf.

Jain School:

  • Emphasis on style
  • Strong pure colors, stylish figures of ladies, heavy gold outlines, diminution of dress to angular segments, enlarged eyes and square-shaped hands
  • Influenced Rajasthani & Mughal

Malwa School:malwa

  • Manuscript of the Nimatnama painted at Mandu, during the reign of Nasir Shah (1500–1510) represent a synthesis of the indigenous and the Persian style.
  • Use of contrasting colours, refinement of drawing due to the influence of the Mughal paintings
  • Ornaments and costumes consisting of black tassels and striped skirts.

Deccani School of Miniature Painting (1560-1800 A.D.)


  • female appearing in the painting belongs to the northern tradition of Malwa.
  • Choli(bodice) and long pigtails braided and ending in a tassel are the northern costume.
  • colours used are rich and brilliant
  • Persian influence – high horizon, gold sky and the landscape.


  • ladies – tall and slender and are wearing the South Indian dress.
  • rich colour scheme, the palm trees, animals and men and women all belongs to the Deccani tradition.
  • profuse use of gold colour
  • some flowering plants and arabesques on the top of the throne are derived from the Persian tradition.


  • “Lady with the Myna bird”, about 1605 A.D
  • colours are rich and brilliant
  • continued long after the extinction of the Deccan Sultanates of Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golconda.


  • d3Belongs to the third quarter of the 18th century.
  • introduced by several Mughal painters who migrated to the Deccan during the period of Aurangzeb and sought patronage there.
  • Distinctive features – treatment of the ethnic types, costumes, jewellery, flora, fauna, landscape and colours.
  • style of the painting is decorative.
  • typical characteristics – rich colours, the Deccani facial types and costumes

Vernacular Art:

  • Art alive based on the collective memory of group.


  • Phad is a painted scroll, which depicts stories of epic dimensions about local deities and legendary heroes.
  • Bhopas(local priests) carry these scrolls on their shoulders from village to village for a performance
  • represents the moving shrine of the deity and is an object of worship.
  • most popular & largest Phad – local deities Devnarayanji and Pabuji.


  • v3Kalamkari (lit. pen-work) is primarily used for the temple festivals or as wall hangings.
  • stories from the epics Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas are painted as continuous narratives
  • relevant Telugu verses explaining the theme are also carried below the artwork.
  • colors are obtained from vegetable and mineral sources.
  • gods are painted blue,
  • the demons and evil characters in red and green.
  • Yellow is used for female figures and ornaments.
  • Red is mostly used as a background.


  • A ritualistic design drawn at the threshold of households and temples.
  • drawn everyday at dawn and dusk by women in South India
  • Kolam marks festivals, seasons and important events in a woman’s life such as birth, first menstruation and marriage.
  • Kolam is a free-hand drawing with symmetrical and neat geometrical patterns.
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