Origin: Rajputana royal courts witnessed the introduction of Rajasthani paintings to India, in around 16th - 19th century. The art of miniature painting also known as Rajput paintings was introduced by the Mughals, who brought this art from Persia. In the sixteenth century, the Mughal king Humayun got miniature painting artists from Persia. The Persian artists then trained Indian artists in miniature paintings. These paintings were inspired and influenced by the royal and romantic lives of the Mughals. King Akbar promoted this art extensively. The miniature paintings made by Indian artists with their own cultural touch is known as Rajput or Rajasthani miniature.
Rajasthani paintings depict tales from the epics "The Ramayana" and "Mahabharata". Radhe Krishna paintings are quite prominent in Rajasthani paintings. They also depict love stories Goddess Radha and God Krishna. They also have paintings on nature and life of the rajasthanis. These paintings are portrayed in the most traditional Rajasthani pattern. While Rajput paintings are dominated by a cluster of themes, one underline factor found in all is the intentional manipulation of space.
During the early years of medieval period, around early 5th century, a unique art form started around two areas of western India namely Marudesh and Gurjaratra (present day Rajasthan and Gujarat). During this period, there were tremendous changes in social and political life of Marudesh and Gujarata. However, Maru- Gurjar paintings flourished immensely in this era. These paintings throw light on the royal heritage of ancient Rajasthan and the era. This style of painting reached the height of glory by 15th to 17th centuries. The other major painting styles are phad paintings, miniature paintings, kajali paintings, gemstone paintings etc.
Kishangarh miniature painting was invented in the eighteenth century, during the rule of Raja Sawant Singh. The king was in love with girl called Bani Thani and he ordered his artists to make paintings of the king and the girl as Krishna and Radha. Other patterns of Bani Thani paintings include portraits, court scenes, dancing, hunting, music parties, boat, nature, Krishna Raas lila, Bhagavata Purana and other festivals like Holi, Diwali, Durga puja, and Dussehra.
Present Day: One can learn the varied Rajasthani painting styles at major art schools Rajasthan called Mewar, Marwar, Kishangarh, Bundi, Kota, Jaipur and Alwar. The Kishangarh province in Rajasthan is famous for its Bani Thani paintings. This style of painting focuses on elongated or beautifying the features like long beautiful necks, almond shaped eyes, and long beautiful fingers. This style of painting mostly depicts Radha and Krishna as lovers and soulfully depicts their love story.
Procedure: These paintings are made on plywood with vegetable colours in wide varieties. These Bhani-thani paintings have beautiful embossed work at the border using fabric pearl or vegetable colours and solution of Papier Mache for the antique look.
These paintings are made aesthetically with a special focus on detailing. The designs commonly focus on strong lines and bold colours which are carefully put together. The raw material required for miniature paintings are paper, panels, wooden frames, leather, marble, cloth and walls for their paintings. The colours are made from minerals and vegetable extract as well as from precious stones. They also incorporate pure silver and gold. The preparation of the colours and mixing of colour is a time consuming process. It involves weeks, sometimes months, to get the desired results or the desired outcome. The brushes used are of very fine quality to get high-quality results. Brushes used are made of hair of squirrels. The miniature paintings are made using silk, ivory, cotton, and paper.
Demand of these beautiful paintings have been increased a lot in India as well as in Overseas. These paintings are exported in various countries across the globe like USA, U.K, UAE (Oman, Dubai), China, France etc. This handicraft contributes immensely to the Indian economic growth.
Bring Home Rajasthani Paintings: You can buy these paintings at Bapu and Nehru Bazaar of Jaipur, Tripolia Bazaar, Hathipol in Udaipur, National Emporium in Jodhpur and other local markets.