Whether it was the aerial view of the city from the fort wall, scenes from the Indian mythology or a grand procession, the artists would paint the entire scene in its full grandeur in amazing detail and finesse on a small canvas, for the king to keep as a memory of the event. These were the exquisite Miniature paintings of Rajasthan in the 16th Century. An art that was brought to India by the Mughal rulers, these were essentially a means for documenting history for the future generations.

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      These miniature paintings were traditionally used to depict the epics of ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharatha’. They were initially created as illustrations of these manuscripts. Later, the paintings appeared on the walls of temples, Rajput palaces, forts and havelis. Now the contemporary usage encompasses interior decorations and souvenirs.


      In the 16th century, miniature artists would line the streets where grand processions of Rajput kings would pass. The kings and queens would ride beautifully adorned elephants, the ministers would ride horses, and the royal entourage would comprise of camels, dancers and musicians as they traveled with great fanfare. The miniature artists would sketch this entire event and later detail them as intricate miniature paintings. In this manner the details of the events would be documented on paper or ivory. The artists were so skilled in their craft that they could even match the exact facial features in these small paintings. It is not just the final act of painting, which required excellence, but preparation of the colors was another effort requiring patience and perseverance. These colors were derived from nature and many days of toil would result in extraction of a minuscule amount of rich and exquisite color, which did wonders to the paintings.

      The themes of the ‘Rajput miniatures’ encompassed much broader contexts than the ‘Mughal miniatures’, which predominantly depicted the events of the Imperial court. The Rajput paintings differed according to the areas they belonged to and gave an insight into the life of the royals as well as the common man. Music was also a characteristic in the paintings. The different ‘Raagas’ like ‘Bhairava’, ‘Malava’, ‘Hindola’etc.  Were related to the different seasons and depicted different moods. The artists drew entire scenarios with amazing detail and finesse on small canvases for the king to keep as a memory of the event.

      Myths & Legends:


      The history of paintings in India can be traced back to the 2nd century BC. The caves of ‘Bhimbetka’ and ‘Pachmarhi’ have various drawings of hunting, farming and dance scenes. These depictions were made, using various media and on various surfaces like caves, walls, leaves, cloth and wood. The paintings in the Ajanta caves are one of the earliest of this craft and date between 2nd and 5th century BC. The ‘Bagh’ caves in Madhya Pradesh and the ‘Sigiriya’ in ‘Sri Lanka’ date back to the 5th century AD. The ‘Sittanavasal’ caves in South India, is from the 7th century, followed by the ‘Ellora’ caves of the 8th to 11th centuries.
      The ‘Pala’ miniature paintings of Eastern India dating  back to about 11th century are the earliest evidences of the miniature  painting  tradition. This Eastern school of miniature paintings which dates to the 9th-12th centuries depicts the ‘Mahayana Buddhist’ deities. In South India, the ‘Brihadeswara’ temple has depictions of paintings done during the ‘Chola’ era of the 11th century.

      The miniature style of paintings, were introduced to India by the Mughals from Persia. Humayun, who returned from Persia after exile in 1555 AD, brought the painters with him. His son and successor, Akbar, later established a workshop where these artists worked and passed on their craft to many Hindu artists. Later on they brought their own style known as the ‘Rajasthani’ or ‘Rajput style’.
      The Rajput school began to absorb elements of Mughal style, due to the growing alliances between Rajput kingdoms and the Mughals and this lead to the creation of ‘Rajasthani miniature’ in the16th century. The painters, who had moved from Mughal courts to Rajasthan after the decline of the Mughal Empire, found patrons in the ‘Rajputs’.
      Inspired by the royal and romantic lives of the Mughals, these paintings were done with utmost care and in minute details with strong lines and bold colors set in harmonious patterns. The court artists, who captured the moments on canvas, painted scenes from everyday life.
      During the long period of Rajput rule, many kingdoms developed their own distinctive style of miniature paintings. The various schools of Rajput paintings are ‘Mewar’, ‘Hadoti’, ‘Kishangarh’ and ‘Dhundhar’ and from them ‘Mewar’ stands ahead prominently. The paintings of ‘Udaipur’, ‘Nathdwara’ and ‘Devgarh’ styles are immortal legacies of this school. The ‘Ajanta’ style was also blended with this style by artists and the ‘Guhil’ rulers of ‘Vallabhipur’. The ‘Vallabhas’ were devotees of Lord Krishna and there was a steady growth of the ‘Vallabha’ influence, which led to the famous ‘Radha-Krishna-Leela’ stories. This was one of the most important contributions of the ‘Mewar’ paintings.
      The two rulers viz. Rana Kumbha (1433-1464) and Rana Sanga (1509-1539) were great patrons of art. Udai Singh and Rana Pratap are also known to have given refuge to the artisans and craftsmen. Pratap’s son Amar Singh produced a remarkable set of Ragamala painted with the help of these artists. This Ragamala is the earliest dated example of Mewar School and it was painted at Chavand. The real beginning of a polished style of Mewar painting started in 1571 AD. By that time, it fully replaced the ‘Apabhransa’. One immediate reason of development of this school was that a large number of artists migrated from Mandu to Mewar after Baj Bahadur, the ruler of Mandu was defeated by Mughals in 1570. Thus, we can conclude that the new Mewar style originated as an offshoot to the Central Indian painting. The times of Jagat Singh (1628-1652), the Mewar painting reached its highest glory. Jagat Singh I was a devotee of Krishna and the themes of passion and devotion lent themselves well at court, which can easily translate to loyalty for the Rajput land.

      In the texts of the ‘Bhagwad Purana’ painted by ‘Sahabadi’ (1648), fine examples of the ‘Mewar’ style are available. Before paper came to India in the 14th century, surfaces made from materials like bamboo, jute, palm leaf and cotton were used. Before painting, the coarse paper had to be treated and polished to attain the desired surface.


      The works of the ‘Mewar’ school are characterized by simple bright colors, which have a direct emotional appeal. The inspiration for the works was derived from the artistic heritage of ‘Medpat’, the land of ‘Guhil’ rulers. These paintings use a wide range of colors like saffron, yellow, crimson etc. The backgrounds usually have a stylized architecture consisting of domed pavilions and small turrets, trees are given a semi natural look and the foregrounds are decorated with flowers and birds. The clothes of the human figures have evolved to the ‘Rajput’ style with a scarf worn over one shoulder and also around the waist. The turban is either loosely wound or has a band tied tightly around it.
      The depictions and styles evolved over a period of time. Initially, the features included prominent eyes, drawn to extend further away from the cheek and used brick red backgrounds. the birds, animals and trees are ornate, the flowers are drawn in bunches, and the Hills and Mountains are depicted in Persian style. Small hillocks and mounds are also inserted into the paintings.

      Later the paintings came to be more elaborate and ornate. The elements later had faces in profile with a gradual elimination of angular features.
      The ornamentation and the drapery too changed according to the Rajput times. The figures were composed within a matrix and could neither move towards, nor away from the viewer. Dynamic drawings and intricate patterns created a sense of surface energy.
      The painters depicted nature in their distinctive styles and took inspirations from their surroundings and local topography. Subjects of Miniature paintings are ‘Krishna Lila’ (stories of Krishna), ‘Raga Raginis’ (Musical melodies), ‘Nayika Bheda’ (different classes of heroines, on the basis of which Sanskrit and Hindu writers of love, classified women), ‘Rituchitra’ (seasons), Panchatantra.
      The artists also painted multiple elaborate borders, which were sometimes more lavish than the painting.


      These paintings lost their charm and started to decline in the 18th century. It became a cheap medium to depict the scenes of dance, parties and sensuous palace life. With the advent of photography, these are now only sought after by collectors as souvenirs or to adorn the walls of the houses, hotels etc.

      Introduction Process:

      A plywood board is taken and treated with ‘Touchwood polish’ to protect it against termites. The canvas cloth to be pasted is treated and bleached to remove impurities. The cloth is stretch on the ply and held in place by starch. A plastic emulsion is applied to the cloth so that the paints don’t seep through or blot. Handmade paper called ‘Basli’ is also used sometimes. In this case, three or four layers are pasted together and starched to make it thick and sturdy.

      Raw Materials:

      Silk or handmade paper, Ivory, Squirrel hair for brushes, Bird feather for brush or quill, Charcoal powder, Colors are extracted from natural sourses. Red is extracted from dried fruit of Peepal tree. Orange is extracted from Palash flower. Green is extracted from ground leaves. Black is extracted from stones and kohl. White is extracted from sea shell. Yellow is extracted from dried urine of a cow. Gold and silver pigments are made by boiling metal with camel husk.


      Tools & Tech:

      Squirrel hair brushes, Synthetic brushes, Water proof ply-board, Round stone for polishing, Coconut shell, Pencil.



      Preparing the canvas: A plywood board is taken and treated with ‘Touchwood polish’ to protect it against termites. The canvas cloth to be pasted is treated and bleached to remove impurities. The cloth is stretch on the ply and held in place by starch. A plastic emulsion is applied to the cloth so that the paints don’t seep through or blot. Handmade paper called ‘Basli’ is also used sometimes. In this case, three or four layers are pasted together and starched to make it thick and sturdy.

      Drawing and painting: The first elements to be worked on, are the borders, after which the sketches of the main body of the painting are made. The colors are prepared separately and this is an elaborate process. The base colors are done first and the details in the backgrounds are slowly filled in with outlines. The shadings for the different elements are done after this. The human figures’ face and the features are painted last since they require expert precision and patience. Single brushstrokes define the features such as chin, forehead, nose and neck. The face is not painted with a base color but it acquires its visibility and contours by artistic shading.

      Embellishment: Once the paintings of the forms are done, the figures are adorned with detailed ornamentation. The jewelry and accessories are worked on with metallic paints. In some case, real gold is also used. When sequins need to be placed on the paintings, an iron needle is used to press in the grooves into which the sequins are stuck.

      Finishing: After the painting is dried and finished; it is covered with butter paper and rubbed with a smooth piece of stone or oval shell, making the surface smooth and lustrous. Sometimes Potassium permanganate is used to give the paintings an ancient look and feel. Even after the onset of synthetic colors and readymade brushes, some craftsmen still use natural colors for painting. The extraction process has become much faster and less painstaking compared to olden times. Marble has become a substitute for ivory and is worked upon only by the highly experienced craftsmen. Paper or silk is widely used which are sometimes dipped in tea to give a sepia tinge.

      Cluster Name: Udaipur


      Udaipur is a beautiful city in Rajasthan, also known as the City of Lakes. It is aptly named as it appears to have emerged from the mirrors of lakes and dotted with beautiful palaces of the Rajput era. Named after its ruler Maharana Udai Singh, this flourishing city is now an eclectic blend of old and new.
      district Udaipur
      state Rajasthan
      population 662,992 (2019)
      langs Hindi, Rajasthani
      best-time October to March
      stay-at Many good hotels are available around the year.
      reach Maharana Pratap Airport Udaipur, (UDZ)UDAIPUR CITY Railway
      local Auto-Rickshaws
      food Kachori, Rabdi and Daal-Baati


      Maharana Udai Singh laid the foundation of Udaipur in 1557 AD, on the word of a sage, who advised him to build a city in the fertile land, protected by the Aravalli mountain ranges. Maharana Udai Singh was a successor of the 'Sisodias', who claimed to have been the descendants of the 'Sun God' (Suryavanshi). The Sisodias are believed to be the oldest ruling family in the world and also the most powerful. For the same reason, they have had many enemies and were under constant attack even from the Mughals. Hence, Maharana Udai Singh decided to shift the capital from 'Chittorgarh' to a more protected city of 'Udaipur' and it continued to be the capital of 'Mewar', till it became the princely state of British India in 1818 AD. When India got independent in 1947 AD, the Maharaja of Udaipur granted this place to the Government of India. At that time, 'Mewar' merged into the state of Rajasthan and it came to be known as the 'City of Lakes' or 'Venice of the East' due to its luxurious lake palaces like the one which covers an entire island in the 'Pichola' lake.


      Udaipur is located 403 kilometers southwest of the state capital, Jaipur, 248 km west of Kota, and 250 km northeast from Ahmedabad. The city lies at an average elevation of 590 meters. By Air : Dabock Airport is 24 km from the city center. Daily flights connect Udaipur with Jodhpur Jaipur, Aurangabad, Mumbai and Delhi. By Rail : Udaipur is directly linked by rail with major cities like Jaipur, Ajmer, Delhi, Chittorgarh, etc. By Road : A wide network of bus service link Udaipur with several destinations. Some of the important destinations are Agra (630km), Ahmadabad (262 km), Jaipur (406 km), Jodhpur (275km) and Mount Abu (185km). Local Transport : Un-metered taxis, auto-rickshaws, Tongas, regular city bus service is available for 'Dabok airport', 'Badi Lake', 'Bedala' and 'Saheliyon ki Bari'.



      Udaipur is a thriving and well-connected city with strong infrastructure, water supply, electricity supply and tourism. It is equipped with many hospitals, blood banks and educational institutions.


      Udaipur still retains a quaint old world charm, with beautiful Rajput palaces and forts sitting comfortably amidst the modern constructions of brick, cement and concrete. Narrow streets, yellow and blue colors on the walls decorated by paintings give a feeling of old Rajput time. City Palace: Udaipur City Palace is one of the architectural marvels of Rajasthan, located peacefully on the banks of Lake Pichola. This majestic City Palace is the most visited tourist attraction of Udaipur and often distinguished as the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. City Palace boasts of the wonderful blend of Medieval, European and Chinese Architecture. The Palace has various towers, domes and arches, which add to the flavor of heritage site. City Palace has several gates that are known as 'Pols'. 'Bara Pol' (Great Gate) is the main gate to the City Palace complex that will take you to the first courtyard. On passing 'Bara Pol', you will come across a triple arched gate, which is known as 'Tripolia'. Lake Palace: This is one of the most elegant palaces situated in the heart of the 'Pichola' Lake. The courtyards of the palace are lined with columns, pillared terraces, fountains and gardens which enhance its beauty. Few temples in Udaipur like the 'Jagdish' temple follow the 'Nagara' style of architecture. In this style the temple is a square, with a number of graduated projections in the middle of each side, giving rise to a cruciform shape. In elevation, it resembles a tower gradually inclining inwards in a convex curve. 'Rishabhdeo' Temple is a chief pilgrimage site for followers of Jain religion. The 'Ambika Mata' Temple, also known as the 'Jagat' temple is a small shrine made in the fissure of a rock.


      The primary language of Udaipur is 'Mewari' but Rajasthani, Hindi and English are also commonly spoken. Jainism is the main religion that is observed in Udaipur. Other religions include Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity.  'Bhavai', 'Ghoomar', 'KachhiGhodi', 'Kalbeliya' and 'Terahtaali' are the well known dances of Rajasthan. 'Morchang', 'Naad', 'Tanpura', 'Sarangi' and many other instruments were traditionally played in the courts of the Mewari rulers and still finds its patrons and audiences in present times. Udaipur cuisine comprises mostly of vegetarian dishes, as Jainism and 'Vaishnavism' is widely followed. Food is usually made from lots of vegetables and lentils and is seasoned with a great variety of spices. The 'Mewar' festival is celebrated here with much pomp and show to mark the arrival of spring in the months of March and April. At the time of the 'Mewar' Festival the idols of Lord Shiva (Isar) and Goddess Parvati (Gangaur) are dressed and carried in a traditional procession through different parts of the city. The final destination of this procession is the 'Gangaur Ghat' at 'Pichola' Lake, where the images are immersed into the lake waters. 'Shilpgram Mela' or 'Shilpgram' Crafts Fair is celebrated in the months of November or December. It is a popular festival organized annually in the western region of Udaipur.


      The 'Bhil' tribes are chief amongst the tribal population of Udaipur. A varied mix of urban population is found in the city. Udaipur is also a center for many talented artisans and craftsmen. The traditional attire of women is the 'Ghaghra-Choli' (Skirt & blouse) and for men it is the 'Angrakha' (Kurta) and 'Dhoti'. But in modern times, people wear contemporary clothes like Salwars, Trousers, t-shirts and shirts.

      Famous For:

      City palace: One of the largest palace complexes in the world, it is a beautiful mixture of Mughal and Rajput traditions. The city palace is built atop a hill beside the 'Pichola Lake' providing a panoramic view of the city. Gulab Bagh: A vast garden of almost a hundred acres. The garden also has a museum and zoo within it. There is also a public library attached to the garden, which has large volumes and illustrated manuscripts on Indology, Archaeology, and History. Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar Lake: Famous man-made lakes of Udaipur. They add tranquility to the beautiful palaces and lend Udaipur the title -'City of lakes'. Monsoon palace: Also called 'Sajjan Garh Palace' after Maharana Sajjan Singh, who commissioned its construction. It is built high atop the Aravalli ranges at an elevation of 944 meters. As the name suggests, the palace was a monsoon retreat of the Royal family. Shilpgram Art and Craft fair:  It is held annually during the month of December. Over 400 artisans and craftsmen from all over India participate in this fair. The fair takes place in a sprawling artisans' village set up by the West Zone Cultural Center. Folk dances and cultural programs are held as part of the festival. It is a vibrant showcase of the rich 'Rajasthani' culture and heritage.


      List of craftsmen.

      Documentation by:

      Team Gaatha

      Process Reference:


      Cluster Reference:

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