Behold the Art Apart

Behold the Art Apart

Any form of art in itself, is a manifestation of the culture and background it originates from. The kaleidoscopic culture of India brims with representations that are redolent with the coruscating culture of traditional, aesthetic and authentic nature.

Vishudharmottara Purana, a rich finding of 700 AD, defines the art of painting, Chitra sutra as a constitution of six organs. These are considered essential to infuse life in any caricature.

Rupabheda, the secrets of form (knowledge of appearance, facial expressions, features), Pramaanam, the concept of proportion (correct perception, measure and structure), Bhava, emotional disposition( portrayal of feelings on canvas),Lavanya Joyanam, gracefulness in composition(grace and poise denoted), Sadrisyam, similitude(defines the similarity between the real and the creation, are considered to be the all-encompassing thresholds of excellence that are heralded in appraisal and appreciation of beauty in the visual art.

Bounded by the river Chambal on the north, Jamuna on the east and on the south by Narmada, Central India spans across over 500 mile in length and 300 mile in width. Having stood as a testament of the Pathan rule and thereafter the Muslim Turk rule in the 13th-15th century, finally commemorating with the Rajput rule in the eighteenth century, the art form is an influx of various elements representing the style of government, morals, ethics, attitude and social fabric of the times witnessed by the land. It is replete with a multitude of art forms, each with its own uniqueness, is an epitome of the long traditions, stylistic distinction, choice of themes, independence of the manner, and developed attributes of the indigenous entity. Malwa continued to preserve the Rajput side, while the south of Narmada retained the Mughal charm.  

  1. Malwa: Majorly prevalent and practiced in the areas of Dhar, Ujjain, Narsinghpur and Narsinghgar, this form of art is deeply rooted in the tradition. It dates back to its evolution from Niamatnama, the tradition of illustrating texts that gained popularity in the first quarter of the fifteenth century. Bearing distinctive color schemes and loaded with religious and mystical motifs, art has excelled in Central India, since Vedic days. The elaborate and magnificent tradition debuted in 1439 AD, in the form of Kalpa sutra in Mandu.

 It matured into a more fluid grouping instead of tight geometrical compositions. Identified by the bold drawings, strong and contrasting colors, the figures are treated in a flat manner, without attaching any significance to the perspective of keeping it natural in the mannerism. Styled in vibrant colors and boldly primitive idioms for depiction of plant and animal life, the surface is divided into several compartments of different colors to separate one scene from the other. The narrative rendering is epitomized by the execution, draughtsman ship and stylistic demonstration of legends of Bhagwad Purana and Sanskrit love lore 

  1. Bhil: Belonging to the second largest tribal community, this form is characterized by large unlifelike shapes, the characters are filled in earthy yet bright colors and covered in an overlay of uniform dots against the background. The dots have relevance to the grain (maize) that is consumed, which provides livelihood to a large section of the community, that is an agricultural one and whose life is centered around the land they work with. The honest and intrinsic simplicity is also encouraged in the naturally obtained pigments, nee, twigs that are used as brushes on the surface. The ritual of elemental worship through the form of art has been passed down to the generations and has adapted itself with utter truthfulness with moderations in the depiction as life had progressed, staying true to the nature of its work to record life. The large mythical and delusive imagines with dots that appear to be less than perfect serve as a reminder of how life happens.

It places emphasis on the changing seasons, the sun, the moon, birth and death, religious occasions, phenomenon, god and its creations and pronounces man’s relation to the nature. 

  1. Gond: Derived from the Dravidian expression, Kond, that means green mountains, the term belongs to people of Vindya and Satpura range where the people of the community live. It resonates with the unflinching belief that viewing a good picture begets good fortune, and thus, painted on the ground and earthworks not just for adornment, but an expression of preconceived religious devotions.  It is a form of on-line work, where both inner and outer lines are drawn with great precision and concision, so that the perfection attained has an immediate effect on the onlooker, and as a statement of signature style, imparts a sense of movement to the still images, as if merging reality with fantasy.   It uses colors as white, red, blue and yellow, and shares remarkable affinity with the aboriginal art form of Australia. Basically, preserved and practiced by the Pradhaan who were heralded as the storytellers of the tribe, the paintings are a literal sense the translation of songs and folklore and tribal stories into images of good fortune. The natural colors and imaginative use of line and its repetitive pattern, is inhabited by a spirit and is sacred, Bright vivid colors are derived from It has an underlying belief that everything, from tree, the hill is inhabited by a spirit and is sacred. Thus, as mode of worship and seeking blessings from nature.  The most prominent figures denoted in this form of art are Lord Shiva and special status is given to Mahua tree-for its life sustaining qualities. Substances as charcoal, coloured soil, sap, leaves and cow dung render it the indigenous effect, and continue to preserve the tradition of connection with the elements of nature. Most often, yellow effect is demonstrated by chui mitti, a kind of local sand, brown color by Gheru mitti, green colour from the leaves and red from the Hibiscus flower.

  1. Orchha: It developed as frescos, the art of painting in the middle of the sixteenth century. With vividness of the themes, profusion of black and blue colours, this Bundelkhand art style was pronounced by the area of Datia, other than having its impressions in the areas of Tikamgarh, Panna, Chhatarpur Dhubela. As a blend of Mughal and Rajput are forms, they are conspicuous on account of a smaller number of shades of colour used, and predominantly religious themes, Sanskrit and Brij Bhasha texts are represented.  With its simple form and pronounced lines, rectangular canvas has a narrative quality which is elaborately detailed and has unadorned borders. Endowed with miniature like finesse and precision with evolution of styles from mythological themes to more inclusive and secular themes as hunting, war, dance and floral patterns. 
  1. Raghogarh: Inspired by the Rajasthan counterparts, this form has justifiably managed to maintain a distinct art idiom for itself. The highly versatile style of rendering draws inspiration forms the two-thousand-year history that Ragogarh painters have followed in the former princely state of Central India. It portrays not just royal personages, but also their horse and other pets and distinguished guests that visited the place. Conventional themes as Ragamala, Bhagwad Purana, Usha Anirrudh, historical events are depicted. Simple borders in red ochre, robust male and comparatively simple costumes are distinctive attributes of this art. 

Thus, the rich cultural diversity of India and a sacred repository of the quintessential traditions, customs and ideologies that have been passed from one generation to another. The aestheticism is defined and perceived in all enshrining forms, reiterating that beauty transcends religious boundaries and delights universally. Revival of the art is a pageant of tribute to the devotion, austerity and honor of the harmonious blend.


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