Mural Painting Arts of India

Mural Painting Art of India

A mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface Architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the picture. India has presence of pre-historic Mural Painting Arts.

Method Of Mural Painting:

  • True Fresco Method
    • The paintings are done when the surface wall is still wet so that the pigments go deep inside the wall surface.
    • Technique of mural painting executed upon freshly-laid, or wet lime plaster.
    • Water is used as the vehicle for the pigment to merge with the plaster, and with the setting of the plaster, the painting becomes an integral part of the wall.
  • Tempora or Fresco-­Secco
    • Method of painting on the lime plastered surface which has been allowed to dry first and then drenched with fresh lime water.

Pre-historic Mural Paintings:

Bhembetka, Raisen, MP


  • Found Period:
    1. Paleolithic
    2. Mesolithic – Zoo Rock Shelter : boar
    3. Chalcolithic
  • Inside Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary – Vindhya Hills
  • Earliest depicting animals such as bisons, bears
  • Mainly Red and white , occasionally use of green and yellow
  • Later : battle scenes

Ancient Murals:  (2BC – 7th AD)

Ajanta Paintings:download

  • They are cut into the volcanic lava of the Deccan in the forest ravines of the Sahyadri Hills
  • The Ajanta caves are cut into the side of a cliff that is on the south side of a U-shaped gorge on the small river Waghora (or Wagura)
  • The earliest group of caves consists of caves 9, 10, 12, 13 and 15A. – probably under the patronage of the Satavahana dynasty– 2nd BC
  • The second phase began in the 5th century-during reign of Harisena – Vakataka dynasty
  • There are 30 caves in Ajanta of which 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29 are chaitya-grihas and the rest are monasteries (Viharas)
  • All paintings shows heavy religious influence and centre around Buddha, Bodhisattvas, incidents from the life of Buddha and the Jatakas.
  • The paintings are executed on a ground of mud-plaster in the tempera technique.
  • Abandoned in AD 650 in favour of Ellora
  • Calligraphic lines characterize these paintings, which can be classified into portraits, narrative illustrations and ornamental decoration.

Ellora Cave Paintingscoloured_painting_ellora_ceiling

  • 34 in No’s – A.D. 600 to 1000 – Chamadari Hills
  • Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism– illustrates spirit of tolerance in Indian tradition
  • South to North: The 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves
  • Paintings can be found in five caves. However, all of them are today preserved only in the Kailasa temple.
  • The rock paintings of Ellora were painted in two different series. The first series, which were done when the caves were carved, revolve around Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. The second series, painted centuries later, illustrate procession of Shaiva holy men, Apsaras, etc.

Bagh Paintings:

  • Bank of Bagh river 5th -7th century
  • Depict some aspect of Buddhist life and rituals.
  • Influenced by Ajanta

Sitabinji Cave Paintings:

  • Ravana Chhaya – natural shelter which contains unique artwork – 7th AD tempera painting.
  • Before applying tempera (fast drying color) the rough surface of granite was smoothened with a thin coating of lime.
  • royal procession
  • Bhanja dynasty

Medieval Mural paintings – After 7th century AD

Sittanavasal Paintings

  • Jain Monastery, near trichy
  • Pandyan period of the 9th century
  • themes of these paintings include animals, fish, ducks, people collecting lotuses from a pond, two dancing figures
  • Ceiling of the Ardhamandapam is adorned with murals from the 7th century

Armamalai Cave

  • Natural cave which was converted to a Jain temple in 8th century AD
  • The mural paintings are on the roof and walls of the cave.
  • The paintings were created by applying colours on the thin lime surface and over the thick mud surface
  • similar to the paintings of Sittanavasal Cave

Shekhawati Paintings:

  • It is covered by the two modern districts of Jhunjhunu and Sikar
  • Geometric and floral designs.
  • The interior work is usually painted secco, using tempera, onto dry plaster.

Other Mural Paintings:

Thirunadhikkara Cave Temple (TN) 
Malayadipatti rock-cut Hindu temples (Tamil Nadu) 
Saspol Caves (J& K) 
Tabo Caves (HP) 
BhimbetkaMedieval : Sankha Lipi Inscriptions – Use of ornamental spiral flourishes resembling a conch shell (sankha). Most Gupta Period  
Murugan Temple, Thiruparankundram (Tamil Nadu, 
Kanheri Caves (Maharashtra) 
Manmod Caves (Maharashtra), 
Undavalli (Andhra Pradesh). 
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