Traditional Paintings of India That Every Indian Needs to Know

By on March 29, 2018

The land of India has been a home to various cultures, traditions, customs and religions since time immemorial. There are states and regions that are diverse in some or the other way from one another but despite the diversity and the differences, every individual lives in harmony. In fact, there is so much of diversity that it didn’t just make India culturally rich but made it rich in terms of art as well. Every region and ancient tribe in India has a traditional art of their own that reflects their style of living and beliefs. Madhubani paintings of the north to the Tanjore paintings of the west, the list of the art styles practiced across the country is endless.

If we go by the historic evidences, Indian traditional paintings started developing at the time when Indus valley civilization was at its peak. Maybe, that is why, such paintings are a perfect amalgamation of religiousness, intricacy and sometimes sensuality as well. However, as time passed by, the folks started experimenting and tweaking the original art form to make it more personal and relatable. Though these painting styles were high in demand once, now, the modern art styles have taken over the art world by storm. Nevertheless, some traditional paintings of India still continue to be a popular choice amongst the art lovers. Let’s look further to know about them and the probable reason of them being popular.

  • Tanjore Painting:

This painting style originated in a small town of Tamil Nadu, South India- Thanjavur. That is why this painting style is widely known as Thanjavur Painting or Tanjore painting. Such paintings mostly have iconic portrayals of Hindu lords. These paintings are made on wooden planks using a very bright colored backdrop. Moreover, the robe of the deity is made using stones, glitter, gems, and gold. They make up for a good souvenir and a gifting item for the people who come to visit this southern region of India.

  • Pattachitra Painting:

This painting was developed and done initially in Orissa and is also one of the most ancient forms of traditional paintings of India. Literally, the word Pattachitra means picture on a cloth as ‘Patta’ stands for cloth and ‘Chitra’ stands for picture. Most of the pattachitra illustrations have Lord Jagannath, an avatar of Lord Krishna. The most distinct feature of this painting is that each of the painting is made using organic colors and not the adulterated or inorganic ones.

  • Madhubani Painting:

Madhubani painting is a popular art form that was created in a small region of Bihar, Mithila. The painting involves the representation of royal courtrooms, social events, and mythological scenes. These paintings were made without leaving any evident space on the canvas. The blank space is filled with flowers, small geometric patterns, and even birds. Special importance to nature is being given in these paintings. We say so as the process also involves the extraction of colors from the leaves, flowers, vegetables and other herbs that have some color in them.

  • Warli Painting:

This art is the most widely used one worldwide out of all the tribal style paintings of India. Individuals might not recognize the art by name but all the women mostly wear kurtis or sarees with Warli print. The art style draws inspiration from the elements of nature like the sun, moon, and rain and also from their daily life. Earlier practiced just on the walls, the major characteristic of these paintings is the small and easy geometrical patterns like triangles and circles.  They use them also as a way to propagate their belief that just like the circle has no end or beginning, life also doesn’t have any end or beginning. When one dies, he embarks onto a new journey and new beginnings.

The aforementioned traditional paintings are just a few Indian paintings styles that are popular even now, rest have lost their prominence with time. Let us know your favorite traditional painting style out of the four we have mentioned in the comments section below.

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