Paintings of India & Technique: Mural and Miniature Paintings for Rajasthan PSC Exam

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Paintings of India

  • In Kamasutra, painting is tslisted as one of the fine arts out of 64 fine arts.
  • Vatsayana has mentioned 6 principals (limbs) of painting.
  • Shadanga (6 limbs/principals)
  • Rupbheda
  • Praman
  • Lavan yojanam
  • Sadrashyam
  • Bhaav
  • Varnika bhanga
Indian Painting

Mural Paintings

  • They are large works executed on the walls of the large structure
  • Ajanta caves, Lepakdhi temple, Ellora caves etc
  • Mostly done during Gupta age

Mural Paintings of Gupta Age

  • Ajanta paintings
  • Expression of emotions through hand postures
  • Birds and animals are also shown with emotions
  • Fresco paintings
  • Tempera style used-using pigments
  • Theme Buddhism jataka tales, life of Buddha
  • Bagh paintings
  • Same as Ajanta paintings
  • Ellora paintings
  • Theme Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism
  • Scenes of Ramayana and Mahabharata
  • Shiva as Natraj, battle scenes, elephant in the lotus pond
  • Techniques same as Ajanta paintings
Mural Paintings of Vijayanagar Empire
Mural Paintings
  • Lepakshi paintings
  • Flourished during Vijayanagara kingdom
  • Theme not religious but secular
  • Complete absence of primary colours
  • Bad quality
  • Decline in paintings
  • Some of the wall paintings of this declining period in the reign of Prince of Travancore in Kerala
  • In the palaces of Jaipur in Rajasthan and in the Rangmahal of the Chamba palace in Himachal Pradesh are worth mentioning.
Miniature Painting
  • Very detailed and small paintings
  • Executed on very small scale
  • In books, manuscripts or on other material like paper, cloth and even glass


  • Paintings were executed in the traditional tempera technique.
  • After mixing colors in water along with a binding medium, they were applied on the drawing.
  • First, the sketch was freely drawn in red or black over which white priming was given.
  • The surface was thoroughly burnished till the outline showed clearly through it.
  • Then a second outline was drawn with a fine brush.
  • First, the background was colored and then the sky, buildings and trees, etc.
  • Figures were painted last of all after which a final outline was drawn.
  • When copies were made from perforated sketches by rubbing charcoal powder, the dotted outline took the place of the first drawing.
  • Colors used in paintings were obtained from minerals and ochers.
  • Indigo was the vegetable color.
  • Lac-dye and red carmine were obtained from insects.

Technical Rule for Miniature Painting

  • Miniature painting՚s size should not greater than inch square
  • The subject must not be painted greater than one sixth of its original size
  • Paintings are not merely about size but also the level of detail that differentiates it from small paintings
  • Miniature is derived from latin word minium meaning red led paint used in illuminated manuscript during renaissance
  • It has nothing to do with size.

Features of Indian Miniature Painting

  • Most human characters are shown with side profile
  • Big eyes
  • Pointed nose
  • Women-slim waste, long hair
  • Skin colour-brown
  • Hair and eye-black
  • Skin colour of Krishna-blue
  • Dress-traditional indian dress
  • Men have turbans on their head
  • Initially natural colours were used
  • Famous painters-vaachak, Nihaal chand
Various Types of Miniature Painting
  • Pal school of painting
  • Apabhransha school
  • Mughal painting