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During the reign of Emperor Jahangir (1605-1627), art receives tremendous support, especially painting. During this period, the style of writing paintings becomes more sophisticated, colors more light and muffled. Along with portraits, images of animals, birds and nature, the main themes of the paintings are events from the life of Jahangir himself. A vivid example is the illustrations for “Jahangir-name” (the emperor’s autobiographical diary). In Indian Art Zone you can understand the best now.

During the rule of Shah Jahan (1628-1658), the sensitivity in the paintings was gradually replaced by coldness and severity. The theme of the paintings revolved around musical works, couples in love, holy devotees.

The tendency of painting development, noted during the reigns of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, gradually began to decline when Emperor Aurangzeb came to power (1658-1707). Not providing due support to artists, the emperor laid the foundation for the decline of Mughal painting and by the middle of the XVIII century. During the reign of Shah Alam II (1759-1806), the art of the Mughal painting almost disappeared, leaving behind only one branch, known as the Rajput School of Painting.

Rajput School of Miniature Painting

Since the reign of Aurangzeb, court painters, left without the protection of the imperial court and livelihoods, have been forced to seek refuge in other lands. Gradually moving to Rajasthan, Mughal art masters began to revive the Mughal miniature, but already under the special influence of local fine art. Thus, in each of the Rajput princedoms, their own style was born. Nevertheless, they all have similar features that developed even at the time of the Mughal court. Over time, the Rajput miniature became more large-scale, moving to the inner walls of palaces and forts. The main themes of Rajput painting are stories from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, local landscapes and the daily lives of people, as well as stories from the BhagavatPuranas, Krishna-lila and Ragamal. Paints for painting by local artists were obtained from natural materials.

Krishna and the gopis

Ragamala (literally “garland of rags (melodies)”) emotional and musical mood conveyed by the language of the drawing is a classic example of the merging of painting, poetry and music, embodied in beautiful miniatures. This is a painting based on various Indian musical motifs from ragas. The common theme of ragamal is love between a man and a woman. Absolutely all ragamals are depicted in specific colors, depending on the time of day or season, which perform certain ragi. This is done in order to transfer emotions and moods caused by ragas.

Pahari School of Painting

It is believed that the Pahari painting is a reflection of the Rajput miniature, which developed and flourished from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries on lands subject to the Rajput princes (areas of the modern states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir). Pahari painting can be classified within two stylistic schools, namely, bassoli and Guler-kangra.

  • Since time immemorial, the province of Jammu has been divided into independent principalities, among which Basoli has always occupied an important place, where the famous center of art arose. Originating in Basoli, this eponymous style spread widely, gradually transforming itself into other well-known Pahari painting styles, namely chamba, guler, cool, and mandi.

Painting the basoli is easy to recognize by energetic, bold lines and bright colors (red, mustard and blue). It is also characterized by geometric patterns, glossy enamel, striking faces with high foreheads and expressive eyes like lotus petals, as well as Mughal-style clothing. The favorite themes of the artists of that time were scenes from the Gita Govinda, the BhagavataPurana, as well as Ragamals.