Jain Palm Leaf Paintings



Most of the Indian art was associated with religion through historical times and long before the first century AD, paintings were used as illustrations for manuscripts or depiction of religious themes. 

The first Indian books were a collection of loosely threaded palm leaves not more than two inches high and held between wooden covers. Some of those surviving from the 11th century are the Pala Buddist Manuscripts from Bihar and Bengal and the Jain manuscripts from Gujarat. 

In the 12th century under the onslaught of Islamic invaders, the Pala Buddist style art was relegated to Nepal and Tibet where it was carried forward in the Himalayan monasteries. 

The Jain Palm leaf painting flourished due to the patronage of the rich sea faring Jain merchants of Gujarat   who established libraries of sacred texts with illustrations.

These Jain paintings shifted from the used of Palm leaf to paper brought from Persia, in the 15th century adding height to the size of the paintings. Also blue and green pigment were first introduced to these during the 16th century. A unique feature of early Jain paintings was the bulging second eye visible even in profile portraits gradually more elaborate treatment of the surroundings emerged as opposed to the earlier works focussing only on Jain Saints, Gods and patrons.

Scholars have divided Hindu Miniature Paintings into two broad categories, those from the Central Plains, called Rajasthani, and those from the Punjab foothills, called the Pahari.