Miniature Painting

Learning Goals:

Miniature Painting: This was another tradition that developed in different ways. Miniatures, as the name suggests, are small-sized paintings that are generally done in water colour on cloth or paper. The earliest miniatures are found on palm leaf or wood. The regions that attracted miniature paintings are:


The Mughal influence

The emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan patronized highly skilled painters who primarily illustrated manuscripts containing historical records and poetry. These had the following features:


Many painters moved out to the courts of other emerging regional states with the decline of the Mughal empire. Hence the Mughal artistic tastes influenced the regional courts of the Deccan and the Rajput courts of Rajasthan. At the same time they developed and retained their distinctive features. Following the Mughal example, portraits of rulers and court scenes came to be painted. Apart from these, themes from mythology and poetry were depicted at centres such as: Mewar, Jodhpur, Bundi, Kota and Kishangarh.

A Rare Commodity

These paintings were often exchanged as gifts and were viewed only by an exclusive few which included the emperor and his close associates.


Impact of Nadir Shah’s invasion

Nadir Shah’s invasion and the conquest of Delhi in 1739 led to the migration of Mughal artists to the hills to escape the uncertainties of the plains. Here they found ready patrons. This led to the founding of the Kangra school of painting. The Kangra artists, by the mid-eighteenth century, developed a style which breathed a new spirit into miniature painting. They were greatly inspired by the Vaishnavite traditions. The distinguishing features of the Kangra painting were:

Even ordinary men and women painted. They painted on walls, pots, floors and cloth. These works of art have occasionally survived, unlike the carefully preserved miniatures which were preserved in palaces for centuries.



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