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The Prodigious course of Indian Traditional Art

Indian Art Ideas

Nov 2016

Original Post

Posted on:
February 19, 2019
Posted in:
Art News

India, a land of diversities and cultural richness holds a colossal treasure of artworks. The journey of Indian art is believed to start around thousands of years ago when primitive men started drawing images on the cave walls. The Bhimbetka caves in Madhya Pradesh still have the wall art and frescos, some of which are believed to be around 10000 years old. These wall paintings majorly represent the mundane life routine of people living in those times. You can also take a glimpse of Indian art by looking at the artefacts and art engravings founded in the lost city of Harappa civilisation.  

Moving a bit ahead, frescos and wall art in the caves of Ajanta and Ellora narrate the affluence of Indian art. These frescos and paintings represent Gautam Buddha, Lord Krishna and depictions of various yogic postures. Although around 80% of the major artworks in the caves of Ajanta and Ellora were taken away by the British, you can still witness the impeccable architecture and exquisite patterns of the remaining artworks in this historical site.

Apart from these, there are a number of traditional paintings that emerged and lost in sands of time. Some stood the test of time and are still practiced in India.

One of the most dazzling artworks that still persist in India and whose roots go back to the time of Ramayana is Madhubani painting. It is said that during the marriage ceremony of Rama and Sita, King Janaka summoned his artists and told them to decorate the walls of his palace with enchanting artworks. Thus, Madhubani paintings were born. Originated in the Mithila region (Bihar), these paintings were drawn by the villagers on the walls of their mud houses. This artwork is still practiced in India as the artistic talent is being passed on to the various generations quite impressively.

Another famous genre that comes under the assortment of traditional art is Pattachitra. Pattachitra paintings were the artworks made on leaves and are still practiced. The term ‘Pattachitra’ is an amalgamation of two words, ‘Patta’ and ‘Chitra’. With its root in Odisha, this form of art is associated with the cult of Lord Jagannath. Dated back to the 12th century, Pattachitra paintings revolved around the subject matters like temples of Jagannath, Krishna Lila, Panchmukhi, etc. This traditional art was basically an epitome of icon painting.

A lot of other traditional paintings like these are Kalighat, Phad, Warli, Gond, Kalamkari, etc. Except for Kalighat that emerged in the early 20th century, the rest of these art forms came into existence before the 14th century.

With the invasion of Mughals, Islam stepped into India. Along with the cultural mix, the artistic spectrum also got an extension. Mughal kings were quite fond of art themselves. They invited the Persian painters and tried making a fusion of traditional Indian and Persian art together. An important inclusion from Mughals in the treasure of Indian traditional art was the miniature paintings. These were small scrolls on which enthralling patterns were crafted depicting various subject matters like courtroom scenes, battle scenarios, etc.

Rajput paintings also emerged during the 15th and 16th century extending the wide range of traditional paintings of India. A lot of Rajput artworks had the touch of Mughal paintings and vice versa was also true. Rajput paintings’ theme mainly revolved around the representation of Gods and Goddess. The Mughal and Rajput paintings held the Indian art baton until the British came to India and modernism started.

Final words

Traditional Indian artworks were simply outstanding because of the diversity and the blissfulness that each genre carried with itself. No other nation has this vast and deep collection of traditional paintings as India does. And what’s amazing is that some of these works and art forms are still practiced and bought by the art enthusiasts. In the epoch of contemporary and modern works, traditional pieces are still in demand. This shows the attachment that both the artists and the art lovers have with traditional work.


What’re your thoughts? Do you think traditional Indian art is vivacious and ecstatic in its richness and versatility? Share your perception in the comment sections below. Thanks!  

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