The miniature paintings of Rajasthan can be dated back to 16th century and used to capture visual narratives of royal festivities. Painted with extremely fine brushes made with just a few strands of squirrels’ tail hair and bird feathers, the miniatures are made on silk and paper.
The Miniature Paintings of Udaipur symbolize Rajasthan in many ways – colourful, detailed and opulent.
Rajasthan has a harsh, arid climate and houses the Thar Desert, which is known for its oppressive heat and extreme temperatures. The art and food of Rajasthan all portray its hardy nature, through the mediums and materials used, but the intricacy and ornate nature of some of the paintings that the artisans make reflect the opulence of life of the Maharajas. The miniature paintings of Udaipur manage to display the raw but opulent culture of Rajasthan with ease. The paintings are made using a rigorous process which involves manufacture of the pigments and colours from scratch. Very often, these paintings reflect real life events and are portrayals of such events. Hence, they act as a method of archiving our past and reconstructing it. These paintings were popular in Mewar, Udaipur, and even in the Jaipur courts of royalty.
The 16th Century painters would paint the intricate patterns onto a tiny canvas, and present them to Kings, to keep as memoirs of certain specific events. It is important to look at how the processes of commercialization have led to a change in the intention of making the paintings. The paintings were like figments of a king’s life in the past, like journals for him to refer to, but now, they are meant for the sole purpose of beautification. The art of Miniature painting has Mughal influences because of the patronage offered by Mughal Kings. Kings like Akbar and Humayun patronized the arts and also brought foreign artisans from Persia to the Indian subcontinent. This diversification helped in moulding the India’s artistic identity. The paintings are said to belong to the ‘Western Indian School’, and feature an exaggeration and distortion of body features.
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