Medieval Indian miniature paintings
In this blog post, we will explore medieval Indian miniature paintings – their history and stylistic development.
In the Mughal era, from the 16th to 18th centuries, miniature painting evolved from the world of portraiture. This form of art grew and became more accessible to other people who wanted it for their own collections (e.g. museum shops).
The Mughal rulers were big patrons of the arts and they would get people to paint many awe-inspiring pieces. Those paintings are still around today and are very popular.
This particular art of miniature paintings is unique to India and has been in practice since the 12th century.
These miniature paintings are made on a very small surface, usually with wax, gold paint, and a sharp pointed brush. The colors are usually bright and vivid, making them stand out.
Introduction to Indian miniature painting
Indian miniature paintings are found in many places. They can be small – less than 8″ x 8″. Usually, with only have a few colors. Black, white, red, and yellow.
They were originally created to illustrate manuscripts and were often commissioned or given as gifts to royalty and other elites.
Themes on most miniatures are drawn from Hindu mythology. They were most likely intended for a general audience.
The themes of the miniatures are often moralistic, portraying scenes of battle or the consequences of misbehavior.
Indian miniature paintings are one of the most popular types of art in India. These paintings are created by artists with a paintbrush and sometimes with other tools like pencils, crayons or pastels.
The paintings can be portraits of famous people, landscapes, or still-lifes. The paintings are usually created on paper which is quite thin and delicate.
The Materials used in Indian Miniature Painting
The materials used in Indian miniature painting are clear water-based paint, tempera, Arabic gum, and a binder. The tempera is used for tempering the colors.
Pigments such as lapis lazuli, malachite, azurite and cinnabar are used to make opaque colors. The cobalt blue is used to make transparent colors.
The materials used in Indian miniature paints are diverse. They range from vegetable dyes to mineral pigments.
Vegetable dyes were the most commonly used medium for painting miniatures. Artists made them by boiling fruit and vegetable juices to extract their color.
Mineral pigments like lead white, red lead, and vermilion. These colors were popularly used for painting miniatures.
These minerals were ground into a fine powder to make paint. Then, it was applied with brushes or fingers (though fingers weren’t used for large areas).
A brief look at the different styles of Indian miniature paintings
Indian miniatures are a form of Indian painting that is related to the Persian and Ottoman miniature paintings. The difference is clearly visible when seen on decoration and surface refinement.
Indian miniature paintings are typically classified as either Mughal or Rajput :
The Mughal style of Indian miniature painting is often considered the most delicate and refined. While the Rajput style can be less refined, it is typically more robust.
Mughal miniature paintings are associated with the Mughal Empire.
The Empire that ruled India for around 300 years. They emerged as their specific style during the 15th century and continued to be popular through the 17th century.
Rajput miniature paintings are associated with the Rajput Kingdoms.
The Kingdoms that ruled northern India for around 1,000 years. The paintings flourished during the 16th century and were popular until the 18th century.
Miniature Paintings: an Udaipur specialty – ABC Mundial in India
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