Vedic Art: Indian Miniature Painting, Part 13

BY: SUN STAFF - 2.2 2017

Deccan School, Bikaner, c. 1820

A serial presentation of India's artistic legacy in paintings, sculpture and temple architecture.

16th to 18th Centuries

Beginning this series on Indian Miniatures from the 11th to 12th Century Pala School, we progressed to the Western Indian School of paintings, which includes manuscript illustrations from the Ragamala and Vaisnava texts like Bhagavata Purana and Gita Govinda, from the 12th to 16th Centuries. The Mughal School also manifested early in this period, around 1560 A.D., but much has already been said about that era of art in other Sun Features.

For now we'll focus on the Deccani Schools, from the mid-16th Century to around 1800 A.D. Some of the Ragamala illustrations previously mentioned fall into this category, like the illustration at bottom of Todi and Gauri Raginis, but there are a wealth of other Miniatures from the Deccan School that must also be mentioned.

Deccan School, Bikaner, c. 1820

Although no pre-Mughal paintings from the Deccan School are known to exist, it is safe to assume, as evidenced by the level of sophistication in extant Miniatures, that this school of painting flourished much earlier, and no doubt contributed significantly to the Mughal style that followed.

Among the earliest Deccan paintings are beautiful examples from the Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golconda Schools. By the 17th Century, the Mughal style was an increasingly evident influence in Deccani works.

Deccan School, Bikaner, c. 1820

Bikaner, Rajasthan was one of the states that developed a close relationship with the Mughal rulers. By the later half of the 17th Century, the Bikaner court had begun patronizing Mughal artists, who spun off a new branch of art, melding together Deccani and Mughal styles. Several examples appear here, of the finely drawn images of Govinda, fluting with His cows. By comparing these paintings to the Ragamala illustration below, the indigenous Western style carried through the Bikaner School becomes more evident.

Todi Ragini (above) and Gauri Ragini (below) 
Deccan School, Hyderabad, c. 1804



Ministry of Culture, Government of India