Bundi Miniature Paintings

Medha Kapur shares a note on miniature paintings from Bundi, a traditional art form that continues to inspire art from the region

Mumbai: Miniature paintings are one of the many things that make us proud of our country’s rich cultural heritage. Rajasthan is one of the pioneer seats of miniature paintings in India. New schools of painting originated in Rajasthan and Central India in the 17th and 18th centuries. Among these the important schools of paintings are Malwa, Mewar, Bundi- Kotah, Marwar and more. These paintings are created on a small scale on either cloth or paper. These works are known for their impeccable detailing.

Bundi painting is an important school of the Rajasthani style of Indian miniature painting that originated in the princely state of Bundi, located between Jaipur and Udaipur. The blend of Mughal and Deccani art elements in Bundi style are unique. Bundi paintings excelled in its illustrations of Krishna-Lila and Rasikapriya. Besides these the other themes that these paintings depict are Nayaka- Nayika Bheda, Baramasa, Harem or Zanana, Hunting and Portraits.

Visit to a Faqir's Hermitage

Visit to a Faqir’s Hermitage,
Bundi-Kotah, circa 1750 A.D.,
National Museum, New Delhi

These miniature paintings are small and are executed meticulously with delicate brushwork. These vibrant works of art are painted with colors that are essentially made from minerals and vegetables, precious stones, as well as pure silver and gold.  They works had some distinctive feature. For instance, the flowing rivers, dense forests, lush green fields of Bundi region, dramatic night skies, a distinctive way of depicting water by light swirls against a dark background, and vivid movement. They were a blend of ‘real’ and ‘imagined’. The Mughal influence is visible in the refined drawing of the faces and an element of naturalism in the treatment of the trees.

The first set of Bundi miniatures, a depiction of Indian Ragas, was painted at Chunar. A painting showing Bhairavi Ragini, in the Allahabad Museum is one of the earliest examples of Bundi painting.

Krishna enjoying the dance of gopis,

Krishna enjoying the dance of gopis,
Bundi, circa 1700 A.D.,
National Museum, New Delhi

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