The miniature paintings are done on scrolls of canvas, silk or handmade paper with fine brushes. The artists go about the paintings with a high level of precision and concentration to arrive at the beautiful details in such small scales.

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. 

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Waste

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Tools & Technology

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

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Rituals

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Process

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.

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