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Miniature Paintings

Miniature painting is one of various art forms prevailing in the state of Rajasthan. These paintings got their name from their sizes. The miniature artwork is created on perishable surfaces such as paper, ivory, stone or metal pieces, but at an extremely small size. The colours used for these little paintings are usually obtained from natural materials such as vegetables plants, minerals and precious stones. Marked with gentle strokes of hellish fine brushes, these paintings are personifications of different beliefs and motives. Rajasthan is the first centre for this art form with so many schools in different cities such as Jaipur, Mewari, and Jodhpur etc with their own unique styles. The two most prestigious schools noted for miniature paintings are Mughal School and Rajput style. While the Mughal variety of paintings depicted by moderate colours to provide depth, the Rajput schools used vivid and bright colours to make paintings vibrant and extravagant.

Mostly the themes are based on legends, religious beliefs and macabre tales of the royal personalities such as hunting scenes and fight scenes.


The history of miniature paintings goes back to 6th and 7th centuries. This was the time when Kashmiri painting style was enjoying the spectacle period. At the time of origin, this style was mainly centred in Rajasthan, but in the subsequent periods it gained its popularity widely in other part of the countries as well. The invasions led by foreign countries had a enormous impact of their cultures on the miniature painting styles. Different rulers make new developments in the existing styles and developed their own styles of miniature paintings. Mainly Mughal and the Rajput have a significant influence in the miniature paintings and art forms.  Apart from depicting various events and stories, the miniature paintings were also used to support manuscripts. These paintings have also recorded the ancient texts and doctrines from Jainism and Buddhist philosophy. The miniature paintings vastly used themes from famous Indian epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and piranhas. The reign of Mughal emperors was the most fabulous time for the miniature painting artists. The Mughal was ardent patrons of art. They employed many miniature painting artists to record their glorious reign in the form of these small scale paintings. Jahangir emphasised the painting of durbar scenes and portraits of prominent officials of durbar. During this period, several different schools with distinct themes and style of miniature paintings, evolved. Some of the schools are Jaipur School, Jodhpur school, Kangra School and Mewar School of arts. The Jodhpur school mainly included love scenes from ancient epics in their paintings. The Jaipur School artworks were mainly depicted the royal events and the durbars scenes of various Rajput emperors. The Kangra schools attractively portrayed different paintings in colours from various expensive metals and stones like gold and silver. The Mewar schools concentrated on paintings of hunting scenes with stone colours.


The art of miniature paintings require a high degree of expertise and skills to perform painting operations at such small level. As it involves very fine brushes, it takes years of practice to attain perfection in this art form. The strokes of brushes should be perfect and confident. The miniature painting needs to be done in different steps such as choosing the theme, selection of design. The colours for painting from different sources like vegetables, stones and metals are derived through a very painstaking process. The miniature painting is a painstaking process done perfectly by Indian artists that has been recognised all over the world.

Following are the steps involved to obtain an astonishing artwork.

  • Chose a theme
  • Select the design
  • Now, at first the human figures are painted. Then animals and other components of the picture are coloured. The background is painted last.
  • Now the detailing is done with a very fine brush. This needs a high degree of attention and skills.
  • The figures are outlined with darker colours, and metal and jewelleries are highlighted.
  • The miniature art painting is laid face down on a hard surface, and an agate stone is used to stroke it firmly. This gives the painting a uniform texture. This is burnishing. This is the last stage of painting

Because of overwhelming popularity of Rajasthani arts, Rajasthan has become the centre for this art. The Rajasthani artists are renowned worldwide for their expertise in this fine art form. Mughal Miniature paintings provide an interesting insight into the lifestyles of earlier centuries and continue to fascinate the art lover from all over the world. If you decide to buy a miniature painting then it would be the wisest buy as you will not owe just a wall hanging, but will hold a master piece holding the legacy of artistic expertise of Indian painters which has been transferred from one generation to another since last many centuries.

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