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Paintings

Every kind of art is a part of life in Rajasthan. All the bright and flying colours of art and tradition is a glory of Rajasthan. The decoration of dwellings and other household objects was but one aspect of the creative genius but the world of miniature paintings is perhaps the most fascinating and the distinctive styles that have existed here which is recognised the world over. From the 16th century onwards various schools of paintings like the Mewar school, the Bundi-Kota kalam, the Jaipur, Bikaner, Kishengarh and Marwar schools flourished in Rajasthan.

The Rajasthani style of painting is very much a part of daily leaving. The scenes are derived from the real life or from the glorious history of Rajasthan. The work in highly influenced by the surroundings, they display the hills and valleys, deserts, places and forts, gardens, court scenes, religious processions and those highlighting scenes from the life of Lord Krishna were the recurrent themes of these paintings. The Raagamala paintings and those based on Geeta Govinda are the golden treasures of Rajasthan. It is widely believed that the miniature artists of Rajasthan were practising and perfecting their art as early as the beginning of the 16th century and were later employed by the Mughal courts, specially by the Great Mughal emperor Akbar.

Each school of painting has its own unique features. For instance, the flowing rivers, dense forests, lush green fields of Kota-Bundi region were transferred to the paintings of that regions. In palaces of Kota-Bundi are displayed the paintings depicting hunting scenes and animal fights. Other than Nature, human beings became the major subject of paintings. The figures of women in Rajasthani paintings are very graceful and life-like, with well-proportioned bodies and sharp features. CoIours used also display the similarity with the choice of people from Rajasthan. They are mainly bright, with red prominently appearing in the background.

The Mughal rule has influenced the style of painting. Examples of such influenced work can be seen in the paintings in the palaces of Amer, Bairat and Toda Rai Singh and much later in Samod, Achrol, Shahpura, Alwar and Tonk.

The Kishengarh school is best known for its Bani Thani paintings. The originality of style can be credited to its royal patron -Raja Sawant Singh, better known as Nagari Das. His love for the singer-poet Bani Thani gave this tiny state the most refined and delicate paintings. The paintings belonging to this school have a totally different style with highly exaggerate features - long necks, large, almond shaped eyes, long fingers and the use of subdued colours.

Jodhpur paintings showcase a very strong folk tradition and here the figures are mainly of vigorous warriors and graceful women. Paintings of the legendary lovers like Dhola-Maru on camelback, hunting scenes which included innumerable horses and elephants dominate the paintings of the Marwar region. Similarly, Bikaner too had strong Mughal influences and developed a style which was a combination of both the local as well as borrowed styles.

In a different class but with several similarities are the cloth paintings of Rajasthan which include the phads - scroll paintings used by the Bhopas and the Pichwais - cloth hangings used behind the deity in Vaishnava temples. They are usually in bright colours with bold outlines, these paintings have very strong religious traditions.

The colours used in these paintings were extracted from minerals, vegetables, precious stones, indigo, conch shells, pure gold and silver. The preparing and mixing of colour was an elaborate process and it took weeks, sometimes months, to get the desired results. The manuscripts were drawn on paper or palm leaf and the paintings were drawn on walls of palaces and the inner chambers of forts, havelies. The fragrance of Rajasthani art is still alive not only in Rajasthan but all the world over.



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