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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Indian Art and Craft : India the home of painting - 3

The Kalamkari technique of painting involves drawing outlines with burnt tamarind twigs dipped in molasses and iron flings. Vegetables dyes of deep shades are used to create epic scenes. With repeated subdued colouring processes, a sober but fine effect is achieved. The finished product depicts mythological themes with larger than life figures. The enormous scope of expression ascertains that no two panels are alike.

The Pata Chitra painters are attached to the family of the Jagannath Temple of Puri. In this tradition, the cloth, cotton or tussar, is coated with a mixture of chalk, tamarind seed and gum giving the surface a leathery finish. These are also drawn on plam leaves. 'Scroll' painting or parchment, is perhaps one of the oldest traditions in painting. In this technique, a pictorial account of the deities and miracles are painted. The lines are distinct and vibrant colours are used. It is also practiced by a select group of families at Warangal. So minute are the details, that they can often be missed by the naked eye.

Phad painting is done by artists belonging to a family of painters in Bhilwara in Rajasthan. The themes usually depict historic tales of Rajput chieftains, painted on long cloth lengths. The outlines of the paintings are first drawn in block and later filled with colours.

Ivory Painting involves highly delicate brush work using the colours from crushsed stone. The ivory is first treated and smoothened. Outlines of the image, usually of a Mughal emperor, are drawn and delicately filled with colour. Today, however there is a ban on ivory and camel bones are used instead.

Thaka Paintings from Leh in Ladakh revolve around the Buddha and ritual worship. Forms of dragons dominate. Thankas, painted on silk, are popular for their brilliant colour display as wall hangings.


Miniature paintings used vegetable dyes and derivatives from nature. While the art exists today, it is not as refined and most of it finds itself on roadsides where it is picked up by tourists. It existed in different forms in Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Buddhist deities, Jain forms, tales from the Ramayana and Mahabharata dominate. The paintings are replete with motifs of flora and fauna in bold and striking colours, with human figures in brilliantly designed turbans and outfits.
Related Links:

01. Indian Art and Craft : The Living Age - 1
02. Indian Art and Craft : The painting history of India - 2
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