Miniature paintings, with their fine details, delicacy, and bright colors, speak of the amount of labor that goes into creating a single phenomenal piece of this art form. In India, miniature paintings have been popular for ages. Thousands of Indian scriptures dating back to ancient times are a testimony to the fact. However, like most art forms in India, it is hard to find a uniform style of miniature painting since it inculcated regional ideas from all the places it reached. Therefore, we can find different schools of miniature art within the same country, such as Rajasthani, Pahari, Mughal, Deccan, and so on. No matter how regional artists added their individual elements to the style, one thing remained common in all schools- the fine detail work.
(Image by Pratha)
Anyone who first sees a miniature painting remains awestruck as to how artists manage to create such fine photographic details with a brush. To solve this mystery, Team Pratha visited the magnificent City Palace of Jaipur to meet celebrated artists of the state.
Since time immemorial, artists have received royal patronage to promote their artworks. Surprisingly, this tradition continues today as well. In City Palace, the residence of the royal family of Jaipur, a big hall is dedicated to artisans, most of whom are national award winners. Here, visitors can interact with miniature artists, perfume makers, textile designers, and so on. Thus, the place proved to be the perfect destination for us to quench our curiosity about the way miniature artworks are made. Luckily, we found the right person for it.
Mr. Gajanand, a Jaipur-based Miniature Artist (Image by Pratha)
Mr. Gajanand descends from a long line of miniature artists from whom he learned and gained specialization in the Jaipuri style of Miniature art. Earlier paintings were made on a variety of materials such as palm leaves, marble, cloth, ivory, paper, etc. Today, artworks on palm leaves are rare, but the other materials are still popular.
Like their ancestors, miniature artists continue to use squirrel hair to make fine brushes despite so many other options available. This enhances the authenticity and uniqueness of the style and gives it the meticulous texture that it is most known for. However, for filling colors, separate brushes are used.
Apart from the paper that is specially prepared by polishing it with a stone to give a smooth, non-porous texture, the colors used in the paintings are also unique. Today, when we have a variety of easily accessible colors such as poster paints, acrylic paints, fabric colors, etc., miniature artists continue to extract colors from natural sources like flowers, stones, and minerals.
From Mr. Gajanand’s collection, we were amazed to see minute paintings of animals with exquisite detailing that we could assess closely using a magnifying glass. When asked how much time it took to make such detailed figures, he replied that these paintings are only made in daylight. So, it takes almost a week to complete one such piece. Because of the fine work, such works are also more expensive than the comparatively bigger paintings.
Rajasthani Motifs of Miniature Art (Image by Pratha)
Another interesting fact that Mr. Gajanand shared with us is the symbolic meaning of the animals that are presented in the Rajasthani miniature style. For instance, a camel is a symbol of love, a peacock of happiness, the horse of power, and the elephant of good luck. In the context of Rajasthan, these animals also represent different cities. Elephants symbolise the city of Jaipur, horse- Udaipur, and camel- Jaisalmer. So the next time you’re confused regarding what kind of miniature artwork you should buy, these pointers might help you in making the right decision!
Besides giving us his precious time and such valuable information, Mr. Gajanand also presented us with a small gift. Take a look!
(Image by Pratha)
The next time you visit Jaipur, make sure to drop by Mr. Gajanand's exquisite collection!
Relive the Mughal Times in this classic collection of Miniature paintings from that era.
Pratha Editorial Team