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Traditional Indian Paintings
Click on category images below to explore and buy online our selected Traditional Indian Paintings. Our current categories include Patachitra Paintings, Palm Leaf Paintings, Warli Paintings & Madhubani Paintings.
The word Patachitra is derived from the Sanskrit word "pata", which means a painted piece of cloth, a picture, a tablet or a plate; "chitra" means painting or picture. The tradition of making Patachitra paintings goes back to the 8th century AD. This art of painting on cloth can be traced back to the establishment of the shrine of Lord Jagannath at Puri in Orissa. Patachitra today is a shining example of an age old tradition helping keep an old art form alive.
Patachitra is a style of paintings practiced among the tribal and indigenous people of Orissa. The artists, making these paintings usually do not have other sources of livelihood. The painted scrolls depict episodes from mythology and stories related to religious, mythological and folklore (such as Jagannath, Lord Krishna and stories from the Ramayana and Mahabarata). Relying on natural elements for its colors and materials, Patachitra could be a symbolic of how painting and art can be practiced in complete harmony with nature, without the use of toxic paints and chemicals.
Making Process - The patachitra when painted on cloth follows a traditional process of preparation of the canvas. First the base is prepared by coating the cloth with the soft, white, stone powder of chalk and glue made from tamarind seeds. This gives the cloth tensile strength and a smooth, semi-absorbent surface, allowing it to accept the paint. The artist does not use a pencil or charcoal for the preliminary drawings. It is a tradition to complete the borders of the painting first. The painter then starts making a rough sketch directly with the brush using light red and yellow. The main flat colors are applied next the colors used are normally white, red, yellow, and black. The painter then finishes the painting with fine stokes of black brush lines, giving the effect of pen work. When the painting is completed it is held over a charcoal fire and lacquer is applied to the surface. This makes the painting water resistant and durable, besides giving it a shining finish.
Tourists in India find it to be an important "must have" souvenir. If you are a fan of indigenous art forms and wish to adorn your home with the same, then buying a special Patachitra would be right up your alley. They also make excellent and very unique gifts for weddings and any other such occasions.
Palm Leaf Paintings of Orissa is one of the most ancient art forms in India which has found admirers far and wide. The art originated when written communication began. Messages and manuscripts were written on the palm leaf to be disseminated. Gradually the trend to decorate the text with images began and it became an art in itself. The ethnic art were still one of the most respected ones there and is practiced by the artists primarily in Puri and Cuttak.
These paintings are made from rows of palm leaves which are cut in sizes and sewn together. To prepare the palm leaf, the unripe leaves of the palm tree are first cut and semidried. They are then buried in swamps for 4-5 days for seasoning and the dried in shade. Paintings are then etched on to the leaves using either a pen or a sharp object. Ink, or alternatively blend of charcoal obtained from burnt coconut shells, turmeric and oil is then poured along the lines which makes the lines stand out and well defined. Colors are hardly used in this art, whatever are used as fillers and in very subdued tones. Vegetable and mineral colors are used for painting. Upon drying the panels of the leaves can be folded and unfolded to reveal the beautiful paintings inside. These are then stitched or stringed together as per the need. At times they are stitched after the etching is complete.
These paintings capture the themes of ancient Indian mythology with scenes and legends from the Hindu epics dominating most of these paintings. Stories and incidents of Mahabharat, Ramayana and other epics are also etched. The paintings and drawings also present excellent scenes of nature. These art forms make it a must have in your own homes, besides making it one of the most auspicious gifts you could ever give.
Maharashtra is known for its Warli folk paintings. Warli is the name of the largest tribe found on the northern outskirts of Mumbai, in Western India. Despite being in such close proximity of the largest metropolis in India, Warli tribesmen shun all influences of modern urbanization. Warli art was first discovered in the early seventies. Warli is the vivid expression of daily and social events of the Warli tribe of Maharashtra, used by them to embellish the walls of village houses. This was the only means of transmitting folklore to a populace not acquainted with the written word.
These paintings do not depict mythological characters or images of deities, but depict social life. Images of human beings and animals, along with scenes from daily life are created in a loose rhythmic pattern. These tribal paintings of Maharashtra are traditionally done in the homes of the Warlis. Painted white on mud as base color, they are pretty close to pre-historic cave paintings in execution and usually depict scenes of human figures engaged in activities like hunting, dancing, sowing and harvesting.
In Warli paintings it is rare to see a straight line. A series of dots and dashes make one line. The artists have recently started to draw straight lines in their paintings. Today, paintings are done on cloth that brings out the vast and magical world of the Warlis. For the Warlis, tradition is still adhered to but at the same time new ideas have been allowed to seep in which helps them face new challenges from the market.
In our section, you will find some very expressive warli paintings, both framed and unframed. Hand them upon those wall hooks and let the depicted happiness spread around your home or office!
Madhubani painting originated in a small village, known as Maithili, of the Bihar state of India. The first reference to the Maithili painting of Bihar dates back to the time of Ramayana, when King Janaka ordered the paintings to be created for his daughter, Sita's wedding.
Initially, the womenfolk of the village drew the paintings on the walls of their home, as an illustration of their thoughts, hopes and dreams. With time, the paintings started becoming a part of festivities and special events like marriage. Slowly and gradually, the Madhubani painting of India crossed the traditional boundaries and started reaching connoisseurs of art, both at the national as well as the international level.
The brush used for Madhubani paintings of Bihar was made of cotton, wrapped around a bamboo stick. The artists prepare the colors that are used for the paintings. Black color is made by adding soot to cow dung; yellow from combining turmeric (or pollen or lime) with the milk of banyan leaves; blue from indigo; red from the kusam flower juice or red sandalwood; green from the leaves of the wood apple tree; white from rice powder and orange from palasha flowers. The traditional base of freshly plastered mud wall of huts has now been replaced by cloth, handmade paper and canvas. Since the paintings have been confined to a limited geographical range, the themes as well as the style are, more or less, the same. The themes on which these paintings are based include nature and mythological events.
The characteristic eye-catching patterns are very striking and beautiful. Madhubani paintings can be used to grace almost all occasions such as birth or marriage as well as and festivals. Or you can simply fill up that empty space on your home and office walls with these vibrant paintings!