Paintings of Himachal Pradesh

This article lists all the important painting traditions of Himachal Pradesh including the history of painting in the state and the recent developments and the influence of various rulers and kingdoms that are reflected in those paintings.

Himachal Pradesh possesses a rich cultural heritage and one of the famous of the arts is paintings which show a diversity in the are due to the presence of Tibet as one of its borders as well as Kashmir which has influenced and blessed the state with a beautiful fusion of the two art styles and which comes alive in the form of paintings of Himachal Pradesh.

Painting heritage of Himachal Pradesh

Image 1The glimpse of the rich painting heritage of Himachal Pradesh is found in the museums and art galleries for tourists while in almost every house in the villages, the miniature paintings are showcased in different forms. The women there are very skilled with drawing magnificent art and diagrammatic designs. These designs are called yantras and are displayed mostly on special occasions and ceremonies.

Some towns showcase the painting legacy of Himachal Pradesh in form of magnificent bright wall paintings in the rooms of couples who are to spend their honeymoon and the rooms are specially prepared for them called 'torana griha'. The paintings in the walls of such rooms are known as kamdeo and they depict the theme of togetherness after marriage.

Pahari Paintings of Himachal Pradesh and history

The legacy of painting in Himachal Pradesh has been carried forward from the early 17th century which flourished till 19th century by means of different schools which taught the art of miniature paintings and were called Pahari. These style of painting was not only limited to the Himachal region but also spread to various sub-Himalayan provinces. In those times, there existed various well formed princely states which were ruled by then Rajput and they encouraged the art and were themselves aficionados of art.
Image 2

The painting style of Himachal Pradesh

In those times when the painting culture was in flourish, the painters focused on the lives of the princes, war, hunting etc. they also portrayed love themes like the Radha and the Krishna and the queens of Rajputs. The earlier paintings included one major art style called the Basholi style of painting in Himachal Pradesh which was named from the area from where it originated. This style became one of the signature styles of the state and contributed a new dimension to the legacy of painting of Himachal Pradesh since the early 17th century. The major characteristics of the Basholi style of paintings were its brightly vibrant coloring which portrayed vital emotions. The paintings were mostly portraits of the local maharajas or of Hindu gods which were the center of themes. Due to the influence of Rajputs, the painting style has a distinctive Rajasthani art style and also bears a touch of the Malwa styles of paintings which formed a sweet recipe.

Influence of Mughal art and Buddhist art in paintings of Himachal Pradesh

Image 3With the coming of Mughals in the early 18th century, the Basholi style of paintings were introduced with a new dimension which led to a new art style called the Guler-Kangra style of paintings in Himachal Pradesh. These paintings showed characteristics of the traditional Mughal architecture and paintings, the mesmerizing use of colors and the quasi-realistic landscapes were introduced into the style fusing into an entirely different form and style. Being close to Tibet, the area also was influenced by the arts which were the signatures of the Buddhist monks which they used to paint their clothing and tapestries. The art style revolved around the various festivals celebrated in Tibet in the Buddhist monasteries.

Image courtesy:
east med wanderer from Flickr


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