Indian Miniature Paintings
We've just come back from a short trip around Rajasthan looking at a couple of towns we've not seen before and I've come to appreciate an art form I've never taken much interest in. Indian Miniature Paintings. When I first travelled to India, almost 40 years ago, I wasn't inspired by the Indian miniature paintings that everyone seemed to be trying to sell you. These days pashminas seem to have taken their place as the one thing its assumed you'll want to buy.
The painting of Indian Miniatures began in the 16th century, in the Mogul period that lasted for about 300 years. The paintings blend Persian, Indian and Islamic style into a unique fusion. The painter Howard Hodgkin was a keen collected of Indian Miniatures although he only collected the larger pieces. Indian Miniature paintings are often commissioned for books and are usually executed on paper. You will also see similar styles of painting on a larger scale in palaces such as these at Bundi, a small town in Rajasthan famous for it's step wells and painted murals.
In Bundi we met a wonderful painter on Indian Miniatures called Mukesh. He sits in his small shop from 9am until 9pm every day, quietly painting and chatting with visitors. He's the 4th generation of painters in his family but won't let his two children follow the tradition, he insists they get the education he never had. Although there are many people painting these images very few have an original creativity like Mukesh. In fact he keeps his original work away from the shop front where people have been known to take photos and copy his work.
When Mukesh uses old government paper for his paintings you also get to see the Government stamp and handwritten script, often on both sides of the paper.