Rajasthani Painting



  Paintings from the states Mewar , Gujarat, Rajastan, Central Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Malwa   

This style evolved from Western Indian paintings with the inclusion of the vertical elements from the Persian influences. Chaurpanchsika, a romantic manuscript of Kashmir is illustrated by this style of painting. The poet, Bilhana wrote these 54 love lyrics when he awaited execution for the crime of falling in love with his ward, a princess. The impassioned poems moved the king to grant him not only pardon, but also the hand of his daughter in marriage. 

Once the religious scripts became available to the common man, due mainly to the destruction of the Sanskrit tradition by the Islamic onslaught on Medieval Hindu states, a profusion of illustration art also flourished along with the Bhakti movement. 

Several popular literary works were illustrated in the early Rajasthani painting style, the featuring mainly Lord Krishna as the hero with the herdswomen (gopis) and Radha in a pastoral setting. Geeth Govinda, written by the twelfth century Bengali court poet Jayadev and Rasikpriya, written by 16th century court of Orcha, Keshavdasa were the favourites of these painters.  Other texts chosen were Bhagavat Puran a depiction of the nine avatars of Lord Vishnu, and Baramasa a depiction of the cycle of Indian seasons. 

But the most strikingly symbolical series is the Ragmala Series. These paintings brought to life the beautiful relationship between a poem and music. There are six basic ragas or musical modes in the classical Indian music with five raginiís each (a total of 36 modes), and every one of these depict a particular sentiment or connotation. It is considered unaesthetic and even hazardous to render any of these at other than its own particular pahar (time of the day on night). Paintings from Ragamala series provide an intimate relationship between the musician and the ragmala verse, by depicting the unique emotional flavour of particular ragas. Therefore, they were also referred to by musicians at the time of improvising their rendition.  

Such a brilliant art, bringing together the elements of music, poetry and painting is seen only in India. Ragamala paintings were not restricted to one state. While some of them hail from the Deccan, as Bijapur others were painted in places like Mewar (Raj.), Malwa (Central Indian State) etc. 

Provincial Mughal paintings (bearing their hallmark draughtsmanship and shading qualities with Hindu settings and subjects) originated at Jaipur and Kishangarh but the major centres of Rajasthani miniatures were Bundi and Kotah.


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