Root and Evolution of Indian paintings from Past to Present

Tradition and root of Indian paintings

Evolution of Indian paintings

The Tradition of paintings has been created in the Indian subcontinent since ancient times. Standing as a testimony to this fact are the exquisite murals of Ajanta and Ellora, Buddhist palm leaf manuscripts, Mughal and Kangra schools of miniature Indian Paintings etc. In fact, records have been found that indicate the usage of paintings for decorating the doorways, guest rooms etc. Some traditional Indian paintings, like those of Ajanta, Bagh and Sittanvasal, depict love for nature and its forces. Even the folk paintings of India gas become quite popular amongst art lovers.


The root of the Indian paintings can be traced back to the days of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Paintings on pottery reflected a keen sense of painting among the Indus Valley people. The paintings of the Ajanta and Allora caves exhibit the creative genius of the artists of that period. Enduring tough weather conditions, these paintings have, surprisingly, survived for such a long period of time.

A better perspective to study the painting’s forms of the whole of the nation is to divide it into various heads such as the Paintings of North India, South India, East India, West India, Central and Deccan India and under some special captions such as the Rajasthani paintings, Mughal paintings and the Colonial and modern paintings.

Its Evolution from the Past to the Present

India is a land rich with art, tradition and culture, most people, especially those living in the rural sector of India. Practically make a livelihood by practising various forms of arts and crafts. In fact, glimpses of art and craft can be seen in every aspect of Indian life.

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Rural India is mostly concentrated in small cottage industries. Here people create attractive artistic pieces from the most basic and rudimentary materials so available to them. This simplicity and rawness of these creations are also what makes them appealing to the general masses.

Root and Evolution of Indian paintings from Past to Present

Indian folk paintings are veritably India’s pride. They truly reflect its ancient traditions and heritage. Since time immemorial, these paintings that ornamented the walls, homes and courtyards of the villagers and tribals, were generally ignored as primitive forms of expression. These paintings lacked refinement and richness, so elitist groups who supposedly associated with sophisticated pure did not bother to give them much exposure. Only at the start of the 20th century did scholars begin their research on the subject and begin to realise the true value of Indian folk paintings.

There are many types of traditional Indian folk paintings such as Madhubani paintings from Bihar, Patachitra paintings from Orissa, Pithora paintings from Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, and Nirmal paintings from Andhra Pradesh, Warli art of Maharashtra, Phad paintings originating in Rajasthan and so on. What makes these paintings special is that each of these types of paintings uniquely reflects the cultural and socio-economic milieu in that particular territory of India, giving us a clear idea about the life and work in that particular region.

The treatment of each type of painting vastly differed in the different states of India, and so did the colours and combinations used and even the general approach to the art itself. For instance, Warli art used clever stick figures to depict everyday life in rural Maharashtra. Madhubani Paintings, on the other hand, mostly depicted mythological figures, the different seasons and major events such as marriages and so on. Some of the most important Indian folk paintings and arts will now be dealt with.   

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