India is known around the world for its diversity in culture and geography. The subcontinent has been long ostracized because of the western bias. But, the originality and grace in different types of Indian paintings have attracted people from all around the world. The exquisite patterns and exotic themes make them relevant in these modern times also. 

However, Indian traditional art has evolved depending upon the type of patronage artists had and geography. For example, art developed around the 3rd to 4th century gives outstanding examples of Hindu art while art developed in the period of Kushanas presents a great example of art and sculpture-making having themes inspired from the Tripitaka and Jataka.

Here are some types of Indian paintings-

Paintings from caves

Humans dwelling in caves had a penchant for drawing. The history of Indian art starts from prehistoric times until the present era. These types of cave paintings have been unearthed in different parts of the world. Bhimbetaka Cave paintings are one of them. Some of the paintings are fifty thousand years old. Maybe that time was predominated by the Neantherdals. 

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Bhimbetaka Cave paintings are situated in the remote area of Madhya Pradesh. The name is derived from lore from Mahabharata. According to the great epic, it is the place where Bhim, one of the Pandavas had resided during his exile. Many cave paintings are to be admired like Ajanta and Ellora, Bagh cave paintings, Sittanvansal, etc. The subject matter of the paintings here are deities from the Hindu and Buddhist mythologies like Buddha, Bodhisattvas, Vishnu, Shiva, Parwati, etc. 

Madhubani Paintings from Mithila

Mithila was the land of Mata Sita. It is said that she is the one who laid the foundation of this art. Madhubani art stands out with its repetitive geometrical patterns. According to another lore, when the marriage of Lord Rama and Goddess Sita was due, King Janaka who was the father of Sita summoned all the artists in his kingdom for decorations. They painted the palace with Mithila paintings. It is believed that villagers used to paint the walls of their houses in repetitive patterns. The motifs of the paintings are still inspired by the mythologies and traditional folklores. Madhubani paintings come under different genres depending upon the tribe that practices it like:-

  • Godna
  • Kohbar
  • Bharni
  • Tantrik
  • Katchni.

RajasthaniPhad Paintings

You might have observed while watching some movies based on medieval history how messages were communicated written on cloth or paper rolled into a form of a scroll. Phad paintings draw inspiration and their provenance from the artwork made on scrolls. This art evolved very organically so, there is no actual date of origin to which its birth could be traced back. Predominant colors are warm colors like red, yellow and orange as they represent stories of romanticism like stories related to heroes of the war.

 The central theme of the paintings is mainly related to battles, adventures, epics, amorous unions, and eulogies written in the praise of courage of princes and kings. The special thing about this kind of art is that it represents many anecdotes in a single piece of artwork. The depiction is distinct and clear. This balance makes them more special.

Warli Paintings from Maharashtra

Thane and Nasik are known for Warli paintings of the state of Maharashtra. One of the distinctive features of these paintings is that these were made with white pigment on earthly colors. They are also made in repetitive patterns deriving their motifs from scenes of daily routine like a group dance around the fire, farmers harvesting crops, people praying, etc. the paintings are made from a style unique to that geographical location.

The rice paste was used to depict the white color on the mud walls of the villagers in olden times. Women used to paint the entrances with brushed made of reeds of plants and trees. The houses were painted with eye appeasing motifs to celebrate any auspicious occasion such as a marriage and a good and bounteous harvest.

Kalamkari Paintings

The Indian subcontinent was the cradle of one of the earliest civilization i.e. Indus Valley Civilization. So, there was an influx of people of different cultures from the northwestern frontier of India since time immemorial. Trade relations were established due to the establishment of the Silk route. Intermixing of Greek culture into art from the Gandhara School of art is one such example. Kalamkari is also a result of the mixing of Persian culture into the culture of India in the wake of the 15th century. Etymologically, it means Kalam meaning pen and Kari meaning artistry. It is now practiced in parts of Andhra Pradesh. The predominant colors in this style are black, green, mustard, reddish-brown, and indigo.