One of our favorite art forms out of Rajasthan is miniature painting. The art form dates back to the 16th century, and is particular to the region. While similar to the court paintings of Moghul Delhi, the Rajasthani painting techniques use bolder color schemes and layering to achieve shading and dimensions. Miniature paintings were designed to be small, personal objects collected and shared among small groups and the most skilled works were often the smallest. They were not typically displayed on walls in public areas of homes and palaces, but instead kept in boxes or cabinets in order to protect the natural paints from fading.
The miniature paintings begin as a light sketch of the basic figures. Then paints are added to fill in the figures and the landscape. Rather than blending colors, contrasting colors are added in order to bring out the details. The paints are created from a variety of materials, including minerals, shell, insects, plants, and even gold leaf. As the layers of paint are added, and the subsequent detailing filled in, smaller and smaller brushes are used. The smallest brushes can be made from a single squirrel hair! Due to the fineness of the brushes, many details of the paintings can only be viewed with a magnifying glass. The most popular subjects for miniature paintings are scenes of court life, and of the adventures of the Hindu gods. However, in more modern times, paintings of animals, flowers, and other still life themes are gaining in popularity. Also gaining in popularity is applying the techniques of miniature painting to a variety of new mediums, including jewelry.
Sankara carries an exclusive selection of miniature paintings and jewelry in the shop. Come find your own work of art for your home or jewelry collection!
(Select photos by Dana McGlocklin of Urban Utopia Photography).