Literal meaning of ”Chitra” is painting and ”Kala” is Art so Chitrakala is phrase used for Art of Paintings in India and South Asia. Generally, a hard base, paints and brushes or any colors are the basic requirements for this art but there are unique styles and forms of this Art practiced from several generations. This article focuses on throwing more light of some of the unique styles of traditional paintings discovered & nurtured in different parts of India.
Traditional Chitra-Kala: Various Culture Various Styles
Gonds are the largest tribal group of India that mainly belongs to Madhya Pradesh but in present times, the tribal group has spread to Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and other states of India too. It is believed that the Gond paintings are centuries old since they were engaged in painting the walls of their caves during the era when men lived in caves.
Every Gond painting carry a story as they are strongly rooted to their folk tales and culture. The specialty of creating Gond painting is that of putting together the dots and lines along with the imaginative lines that gives the still images a sense of movement for worship of nature and or for warding off the evil by seeking protection. The Gond paintings are generally done by using natural colors that are derived from charcoal, plant sap, leaves, colored soil and cow dung.
Rajasthani – Paintings
Rajasthani paintings are also famous by the name of Rajput paintings as these paintings emerged and had flourished in the royal courts of the Indian Rajput kings. Every Rajasthani painting carried its uniqueness in spite of the paintings having common themes based on the life of Lord Krishna, incidents from Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata along with paintings depicting natural beauty and also portraits of humans. Rajasthani paintings were done on the walls of the palaces, forts and havelis of the royal Rajputs; these paintings were also done on the paper in a miniature form with the intention to preserve it in the albums.
The colors used for these paintings was extracted from plant sources, conch shells, minerals and pure gold, both semi and precious stones had been used for making the paintings more attractive and precious. Rajasthani paintings carry a great degree of finesse with high intricacy. The demand and admiration of Rajasthani paintings is seen around the globe in both corporate sector and among the individuals.
Madhubani – Paintings
Madhubani paintings are the world-renowned paintings that come from the Mithila region of Nepal and are practiced in Indian state Bihar too. These paintings are also known by the name Maithali paintings by their place of origin.
These paintings are created on religious themes wherein the painters depicted their Gods, Goddesses, their daily life symbols of Gods and Goddesses, fish that is considered as the symbol of prosperity and much more. According to mythology belief, Madhubani paintings had originated since the time when Lord Janak invited the women to decorate the kingdom walls during the wedding period of his daughter Sita to Lord Ram. In ancient times, these paintings were done by the women with the belief that something good would happen to them if they draw the stories of Gods and Goddesses.
Warli paintings are Indian tribal paintings that have been globally accepted and appreciated. The name Warli was named after the tribal group that was engaged in this form of painting. The tribal people from the Northern Sahyadri Ranges in India are involved in doing this style of painting. The basic themes of these paintings are geometrical shapes like circles, triangles and squares, which speak about the daily life of the tribal people.
These tribal people’s paintings had been monosyllabic which totally focuses on nature and the geometrical designs and shapes represent the sun and the moon, the triangles are represent mountains with pointed trees. Every Warli painting consists of a square that depicts the human motif and the remaining painting is surrounds the square portraying their tribal activities like fishing, dancing, hunting and farming along with their tribal dances like Tarpa. Warli paintings also depict the tribal festivals, trees and animals that had been of great importance for them.
The tribal people in their paintings portrayed their daily life style activities along with their rituals and beliefs in the nature, God and Goddesses. Warli paintings are mainly with red or ochre background with white drawings on the background. They used no other colors.
A traditional Shahpura phad painting is created on handmade khadi cloth usually 5×16 feet or 5×30 feet, depending upon the subject matter to be depicted, although cotton, khadi silk and even canvas is used by artists these days. Right from preparing the cloth and the colours to its completion, creating a phad painting is a highly conscientious process, entailing well-evolved aesthetic sensibilities, careful attention to detail, a rock-steady hand, and most importantly, oodles of patience.
“The time it takes to create a painting from scratch depends on its size and area. For example, a painting of 5×16 feet takes at least 10 to 12 hours per day for four months to depict the details of the contents,” explains Joshi (A renowned Artist and saviour of this Art).
A peculiar yet alluring depiction of themes in their entirety unfurling before the viewer with a graceful rhythm, narrated through melodious songs sung by the bhopas, is what sets apart phad paintings from other traditional art forms.
Tanjore paintings originates from Thanjavur in Tamilnadu. These paintings originally were named as “Thanjavur paintings” and later were anglicized by the name Tanjore.
Tanjavur paintings were generally done on canvas pasted on a plank of jackfruit wood or teak wood; they were also done on glass, walls, wooden panels, mica, and paper and also on exotic media like ivory. In ancient times, the painters used only natural colors made of vegetable and mineral dyes for creating these lovely paintings.
Tanjore paintings were created with the use of various colors like red, blue, green, black and white. Tanjore paintings carried a typical style wherein the main subject is kept in centre with others around the subject; the centre painting is larger to carry attention.Tanjore paintings like other tribal and traditional paintings have common subjects like God and Goddesses, festive celebrations, Indian flora and fauna, stories from Hindu mythology, their daily life styles and so on. Unlike other Indian paintings Tanjore, paintings with times had a great impact of European rule and so later painting was done on European paper and the paintings started carrying brief descriptions in both Tamil and English. Painters also started painting on cloth that was pinned on a wooden panel for English people.
Bengal had been the main place of origin of Kalighat paintings. The paintings had originated in nineteenth century. They were done by the villagers on a piece of cloth or the pattas with the basic theme as images of Gods and Goddesses and scenes from Hindu mythologies like Ram Charit Manas and Tulsidas. The artists who were engrossed in Kalighat paintings are considered to be half Hindu and Half Muslim but practicing Islamic religion.
The major essence of Kalighat paintings was that these paintings depicted mundane life in a very simple manner by its artists.Painters of Kalighat paintings very efficiently defined figures of ordinary people, Gods and Goddesses, gentry and others with dynamically flowing lines.The paintings were also created for depicting the figures of their deities filled with varied emotions. When education for women had begun during those times, Kalighat paintings played a vital role through its satirical paintings that displayed the attitude of the newly rich people and the changing roles of men and women.