Paintings are enriching forms of art that possess the capability to reveal numerous things in a single frame. India has a rich culture with a very deep background in paintings. Various forms of paintings have come up from the different eras of Indian history. And the legacy continues, which with full vigour has still maintained traditional techniques to bring wonderful masterpieces. With all these things said, Himachal Pradesh is one of those states in India where paintings are utterly famous.
With its borders sharing with Kashmir and Tibet, there is an efficient amalgamation of various cultures, which has deliberately shown its outcome via paintings. There are three famous schools of paintings and art, namely the Chamba, Kangra, and Gompa. All these schools shares related thoughts regarding paintings and art. There is always an evident fusion of colours with detailed miniature figures, which can be seen with every painting. Among all the forms, the miniature paintings of Himachal Pradesh are one of a kind. These paintings are known as Pahari Paintings of Himachal Pradesh.
Pahari Paintings (Miniature Paintings)
This form of painting is one of the oldest forms of painting discovered in Himachal Pradesh. The Pahari painting form can be dated back to the 17th century BC.
It is near during the era of Rajput. There is an evident touch of Rajasthani culture in the old paintings which shows that they were influenced from the Deccan or the eastern side of India like Rajasthan, Gujarat, etc.
These vibrant paintings usually covered themes of love and devotion, most of the figures and diagrams in these painting depicted verses from Puranas and epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana. It also included scenes that aligned with the folk songs and devotional songs of Lord Krishna and Lord Rama.
History of Miniature Pahari Painting
These miniature paintings have their base from the 17th to 19th century; history says that there was a powerful bond between the Rajasthan rulers and the Pahari Rajas, which resulted in the formation of such beautiful paintings which has a touch of the western side of India and are also claimed to be done by the Rajputs of that era. The paintings also show a clear depiction of poetry scenes written by the Hindu and Sanskrit poets of those times. These forms of painting were practiced hugely in the Pahari regions like the Himachal and Arunachal. With time, during the end of the 19th century, the miniature paintings started to lose their colour. These started happening mainly because of the political wars and the dynasties getting uprooted.
Styles of Miniature Pahari paintings
Based on the geographical presence, these miniature paintings can be divided into two categories:
- Claimed to be based on Chaurpanchasika style, the first category comes up, which is the Basholi and Kulu style.
- The second category covers the paintings which used soft colours, thus the Guler and Kangra style. There is a famous miniature painting, ‘Devi Mahatmya Manuscript’ found in Kangra.
Types of Miniature Paintings in Himachal Pradesh
#1. Basholi Paintings
It is a mainly distinguished because of the use of bright, vibrant colours along with enamel which is glossy enough to provide a different artistic look. These paintings have their origin in Basholi, a town located in the riverbank, or Ravi in Himachal Pradesh. There have been numerous series of Devis and other Goddesses upon whom the paintings were generally made. The geometrical patterns on these Basholi paintings are splendid.
#2. Bilaspur Paintings
Bilaspur paintings have their origin from Bilaspur, a town in Himachal were among the oldest form of Pahari paintings, which dates back to the mid of the 17th century. The paintings mainly had depictions from Puranas, the epics of India, the Mahabharata, and Ramayana. Apart from those, the paintings illustrated various ceremonies and rituals as well.
#3. Chamba Paintings
These paintings of Chamba have a similar form style to Basholi. These miniature paintings have a Mughal touch in them and are also inclined towards the culture of the Deccan and Gujarat.
#4. Garhwal paintings
The miniature paintings in Garwhal also dominated the Mughal traditions but later inculcated the styles of Kangra.
#5. Guler Kangra Style Paintings
These miniature paintings of Himachal Pradesh generally showcased the beauty of Indian women. The paintings have distinct human features and facial expressions, which also included vibrant landscapes. The oldest painting can be dated back to the early 18th century.
#6. Jammu Paintings
These miniature paintings followed the styles used in the paintings of Kangra. These paintings originated during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
#7. Jasrota Paintings
These paintings mainly had many figures in them, depicting the courtrooms, any events, or ceremonies, etc. These paintings were mainly found in Jammu and Kashmir regions.
#8. Kullu Paintings
It is another type of miniature painting found in Himachal Pradesh that illustrated scenes from Puranas.
#9. Mandi Paintings
When Raja Singh was the ruler, Mandi saw the birth of a new form of painting. These paintings showed portraits of kings with huge hands and limbs, which was significantly different from other paintings.
#10. Manko Paintings
These are paintings of the mid 17th century. These showed a good similarity with the painting style of Basholi, which used vibrant colours. Later years witnessed the paintings to have lighter colours and fewer figures and portraits.
#11. Nurpur Paintings
These miniature paintings of Himachal contained bright colours with mundane backgrounds, generally emphasizing the subjects and figures present in them.
The miniature paintings of Himachal Pradesh were one of a kind, the various forms which it showed depicted the varied artistic techniques which were used to create those masterpieces. The paintings from these different regions had many things in common as well as had a different touch as well which eventually makes all of them unique in a way. These miniature paintings of Himachal Pradesh are famous over the nation and even abroad. The essence of these paintings has lived long years and will certainly remain immortal in the future as well.