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Indian painting mirrors the radiant society and legacy of India into staggering assortment of hues and styles, practiced since time immemorial, stretching back millennia to the "hollow paintings" of animal hunts and tribal wars in caves. The stone compositions of Bhimbekta (below), the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh state, are said to be the oldest, dating back to 5000 BCE, and the those at Ajanta and Ellora are altered forms of Bhimbekta, a mix of wall paintings and frescos aesthetically, carefully drawn with great craftsmanship.
Two other ancient schools well worth noting include Warli wall painting - practiced by the eponymous tribe near Mumbai in today's Maharastra state for millennia and especially depicting nature scenes as well as tribal life in brilliant hues and shapes - and Pattachitra, on cloth scrolls in the eastern states of Odisha and West Bengal, known for its intricate detail work as well as mythological narratives and folktales.
The precepts of Indian painting and the different prior types of the workmanship have been documented in books like the Mudraskshaka, the Vishnudharmottara, and the Vinayapitaka. There are various styles of Indian painting, of course, with miniatures being a standout. Themes include legends and mythologies, icons of Hindu divine beings and goddesses and regal court scenes, delineated in rich hues on glass, paper, marble, silk and even cowhide. Various subgroups of miniature paintings include the Rajput (below), the Deccan, and the Mughal.
The Yorck Project/DIRECTMEDIA
There is also a long tradition of Thangka paintings stemming from the visiting Buddhist preachers of Tibet during the era of the emperor Ashoka during the 3rd century BCE. Painted on cotton and silk, and stored rolled up when not being displayed, they depict Buddha and the Bodhisattva in different reflective stances, such as Buddha Mandala, Shakyamuni Buddha, and Maitreye Buddha.
Madhubani Paintings Online is a collection of select canvases of the Mithila area of Bihar state in northeastern India, where country ladies expressed their creative on entryways and walls in works that came to be known as Madhubani paintings (example at top). With beguiling folk craftsmanship, these modest sketches on fabric depict Hindu gods and mythological scenes, and have inspired many latter day Indian artists such as Jamini Roy, Mukbul Fida Hussain, S.K. Bakre, and S.H Raza.
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