Art/Painting of medieval Rajasthan

  • Like architecture and sculpture,Painting too developed and reached its height in India. The caves of Ajanta testify to the great skill, industry and hard work of the painters of India.                
  • The painters of Rajasthan did not lag behind in the forward march of art and artist. In the ancient days, the paintings of Gods and Goddesses were prepared. Aspects of Indian religions viz., Buddhism, Jainisn, Savism etc. were beautifully protrayed in colours. Songs were depicted through pictures. Love, sensuousness, Ras etc, were presented through the admiture of Indian colours chiefly, red, yellow and green. The collection of such pictures are still avilable in the museums in old palaces of the Rajas and Maharajas and also in the big Havelies of the feudal lords, This style of painting is called ‘Rajput Style’ yet it is somewhat different from the style of Jammu, Kangra, Basauli etc.                                                                                                
  • The fact is that the rulers of Rajasthan patronised painting and gave shelter, food and money to those great painters who were banished by Aurangzeb from the Mughal Court. consequently in the art of painting there was an admixture of Iranian and Rajasthani art. No doubt, due to the varied tasted and pleasures of various, regional art got patronised. Mewar, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Kishangarh, Bundi, Kota, Alwar etc. developed their own separate styles but there was something common in all and everyone of them that gave a characteristic name of Rajasthani style to this of painting.                                                                
  • The ancient art of painting along with sculptured work exhibits The Jain miniature paintings of illustrated manuscripts viz; Shravakapratikraman Sutrachurn and Supasanahachariyam. The art indicates emotional feelings of the figures and provides a key to the secular and religious life of the era. the kalpsutra paintings and the pustakprakash depict convendtionalised style of the Western Indian School “The dresses and ornaments of the figures to a great extent resemble those of the figures of the fresco paintings of Ajanta. “This art shows the method and manner of applying colour on walls of the palaces and houses, of Chittor, Udaipur, Chawant, Jodhpur etc. This school or art which is very well known as the Marwar and Mewar painting presented bright colours and the angularity in the drawing of faces and costumes.                                                                                                                           
  • The Ranas of Mewar patronised Muslim painters also. One of them was Sahabadi Rao Maldeo of Marwar gave impetus to military faste in paintings. The wooden rafters of chokhela palaces are full of the paintings of war between Rama and Ravana.
  • With the advent of the Mughals, the traditional Rajasthani art was impregnated with Muslim technique yet it continued to retain its individuality.

Note- A school is a group of artists who follow the same style, share the same teachers, or have the same aims. They are typically linked to a single location.

The Mewar - School/Art

The troussers and the costumes of women are typically Mewari, The drawing of figures and treatment of architecture is mughal but the brilliant colour scheme belongs to Mewar art. The huge domes crowning the walls of the palaces, the dark starlit night scenes, the procession of warriors on horse back and elephants give an idea of the grand and stately social life and customsinged with Mughal influence during the reign of Maharana Jagat Singh. There are women with prominent noses, round faces, firm breast, slender waists and fish shaped eyes. The men are long and thin with significant expressions. The primitive force of expressions is beautifully blended with simple colour scheme of lacquer red, saffron and yellow colours.

After the death of Maharana Jagat, the art of painting continued to flourish during the reign of Raj Singh (1652-1680 A.D.) and Jai Singh (1680-1690 A.D.). The art of this period exhibits the social, economic and homely life of the common man. The influence of the Moghuls appear in the paintings of trees, pavillions, curtained doors and worked carpets. Yet in the maniature of Krishna lifting the mount Goverdhana or sporting in the Jamuna, certain changes in colour and drawing can be noticed and it can be established that all these paintings retain the traditions of early Mewar art.

The Marwar- School/Art

During the reign of Ajit Singh, Bijay Singh and Man Singh a large number of illustrated manuscripts of the Ramayana, and the Bhagavat geeta were produced. The art was not without the influence of the Moghul art. Trees, domes, bottles, jugs, curtains and carpets were painted after the Moghul style. A new style with new themes arose, The life of the common folk, the barbers, farmers, washermen, woodcutters, mythical people and epic tales wore depicted. Themes of luNury and devotion, spiritual and erotic urges of men and women were painted in yellow. There are brushed mustaches of short men, red phunda, high turbans, domes, transparent and painted Jamah and gold colour to enhance the rich variety of the paintings.


The Bikaner- School/Art

 The Bikaner painting appears to be an offshoot of the Marwar school. The painters of this school successfully synthesised the Marwar and Moghul techinques. They painted court life, its etiquette and formalities. huntings scenes, life of the harem and also depicted the Epic and the Puranic tales. Since Bikaner is near to the Punjab, its art was influenced by the Punjabi art. This art accommodated within itself the style of the Dcccan ‘Kalam’ showing thereby that the rulers of Bikaner had been to the Deccan. 

The Bundi- School/Art

The Bundi School of Painting has closer affinitias with Marwar than with Mewar. The special features of these paintings are pointed nose, pato laksha, short stature of men and women, and profusion of red and yellow colours. The gardens, fountains, the night scenes and male attires betray Moghul influence. The flowers, trees and other natural objects like rivers and hills, the artists have been inspired by physical enviormment of Bundi. The Kota School was nothing but an imitation of the Bundi School of Painting, The wall paintings of a lady at bath in Zalim Singh’s Havli at Kotah is a copy of a similar painting of Bundi.

The Kishangarh- School/Art

 This school is known for its beauty and high quality of paintings. The themes chosen for painting are classical poems of Brijabhasha. The natural sights and scenes are of Kishangarh and its neighbouring districts. The figures are tall with pointed and draised nose of extraordinary length. The night scenes, processions, court scenes, the dresses of men and women resemble those of Farrukhriyar’s times and are imbued with the Moghul art of blending art, love and devotion.

The Jaipur and Alwar- School/Art

This school betrays greater influence of the Moghul art than any other school of Rajasthan. A mural of kalidaman at Amber, the Pancham Raja painting, the dresses of Gopis, Gwalas and Krishna, night scenes, harem, huntingladies dress, ladies in trousers, with caps and orni, also their round faces and fair complexion give ample proof of the influence of Mughal art on the Jaipur and Alwar school of Art.

The Nathdwara- School/Art

Some of the painters from vrita came to Nathdwara when the image of Sri Nathji was brought there to escape the sacrilege at the hands of Aurangzeb. The painters painted the image of Nathji near the Goverdhan hill where the cows offers milk to Nathji from their udders various phases of the life of Sri krishna and Vallbhacharya. Janmashtmi festival, Pasmandal, Worshipping cows etc. were painted. In the groups of Gopis, there is no attempt to differentiate individual features of faces. The long nose, short and firm lips, descending tresses of locks of hair, transparent robes contribute a lot to make the pictures enhanting. Women wear Mewari ornaments and coloured clothes; Krishna puts on ornaments usually worn by the Ranas and also vanmal and Vijayantimal down to the knees. The Nathdwara school of painting is a rich and enlightened art depicting in colours the life of Krishna and his devotees.

Though there is a variety in Rajasthani art, yet there is unity and uniformity in the choice of themes, subjects, costumes and colours. The painter in Rajasthan is a devoted artist, devoted to his art in love and love in art.

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