A History of Indian Painting: Pahari Traditions

Item Code: IDE598
Author: Krishna Chaitanya
Publisher: Abhinav Publication
Language: English
Edition: 1984
ISBN: 8170171822
Pages: 167 (Color Illus: 11, B & W Illus: 85)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.5" X 8.8"
Weight 1.18 kg
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Book Description

From the Jacket:

Abhinav's History of Indian Painting has been specially designed as a project with the maximum clarity and reach of communication, so that the layman may fully benefit from a legacy which has for too long been monopolized by the formidably erudite.

The mural tradition was covered in the first volume and manuscript painting - Pala, Western Indian, Moghul and Deccani in the second. The third volume covered the output of the various centres of Rajput miniature painting in the plains, in the various principalities of Rajasthan. In this volume we travel to the greener landscape and fresher air of the Himalayan valleys where intrepid Rajputs from the plains had set up numerous principalities, small in size but rich in output and still richer in quality.

Apart from the study of the schools, a study from the perspective of the major inspiring motifs and themes is also necessary if the story of Rajput painting is to be complete. This was not attempted in the third volume since it could be taken up only after an account of the Pahari schools also had been presented. Therefore, in this volume, in addition to the detailed account of the various Pahari schools, there is extended discussion of the major themes of Rajput paintings as a whole. This will bring out the fact that Rajput painting, after the elitish Moghul interlude, became the art of the people and will have abiding appeal because it is anchored deep in the perennial founts of poetry and poetic myth that have nourished and moulded the Indian sensibility through all the epochs.

About the Author:

Described by national periodicals as "one of the most original and stimulating minds writing in the subcontinent today" and as "our nearest approximation to the Renaissance man, versatile in interests and depth of learning", Krishna Chaitanya is the author of over thirty books whose multidisciplinary range got him the "Critic of Ideas" award of the Institute of Interspecial award from the Kerala Sahitya Academy. The major categories are: a five-volume philosophy of freedom for which he got a Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship and which has been compared by critics to the work of Thomas Aquinas, the French Encyclopedists, Herbert Spencer, Bergson, Whitehead and Teilhard de Chardin; and ten-volume history of world literature in English and several Indian languages several books on Indian culture; books for children, one of which got the Federation of Indian Publishers' award for the best children's book.

He was for over a decade Chairman of the All India Fine arts and Crafts Society and Editor of Roopa-Lekha, India's oldest extant art journal, and has been member of the Publication committees of the National Museum, the National Gallery of Modern Art, National Book Trust, Sangeet Natak Akademi and Indian Council for Cultural Relations. He is Art Critic of the Hindustan Times and Western Music Critic of Times of India.

The Reviews:

"The author infects the reader with his own enthusiasm. Where others have been busy counting the trees, he concentrates on the beauty of the woods. A significant contribution." - The Times of India

"A Remarkable book, furnishing out only technical details but affording a fresh appreciation of our art treasures. Delightful reading." - The Deccan Herald

"A history suitable for laymen which, while keeping to historical materials, will assist in the discovery and enjoyment of art. Warmly recommended." - The Hindustan Times

"Comprehensive chronicle, lucid narrative, perhaps the first of its kind directed to the common reader… a remarkable success." - The Mail

"Commendable project…Gives a good introduction to the art of the different schools of Indian painting." - Indian Express


THIS is the fourth volume of this writer's History of Indian Painting. The first volume, which appeared in 1976, dealt with mural painting from prehistoric and protohistoric times onwards. In the second volume, published in 1979, the great transition from the mural to the miniature was studied from the initial phase in the Pal a period to the proliferation that created a variety of styles of manuscript illustration in several regions of India. Moghul and Deccani tradi- tions were also covered in the volume.

Art is of the very stuff of delight and the narration of its history should also have the happy contagion. But art historians at times get doctrinaire and difficult and when their contentions claim to define the fundamental orientations of an evolving art tradition, they cannot be ignored. This situation had to be confronted even in the second volume, for Moghul painting has been sought to be reduced to a provincial school of Persian painting which merely happened to be executed in Agra and Delhi. In the third volume, which came out in 1982 and dealt with Rajasthani painting, one had to get involved even more deeply, for some art historians have reduced Rajput paint- ing as a total derivative of Moghul painting which in turn was held to be a provincial school of Persian painting. Though various categories of data and arguments were used to rebut such theories, the ultimate reliance was still on aesthetic distinctions: of Moghul painting from Persian, of Rajput painting from Moghul. And when we return to aesthetics, we come back home, to delight.

Delight becomes euphoria in the paintings done in the numerous principalities, small in size but rich in output, which the Rajputs from the plains set up in the valleys of the Himalayas. The freshness of the ambience, the clean air and unspoilt nature, the stronger persistence of the simpler pattern of life, the essentially pastoral tenor of tradi- tional living, seem to have been the deep, secret founts from which Pahari painting derived its clarity ~f form and luminosity of colour. This volume deals with the painting of the various Pahari schools.

While Moghul painting was an art of the elite, of the imperial court, Rajput painting forged links again with the perennial, poetic and profound myths of the land that have moulded the psyche of the people. Even if stylistic distinctions can be made between Rajasthani and Pahari painting, the major motifs of the inspiration have been the same. Apart from the study of the schools, a study from the perspective of these motifs is also necessary if the story of Rajput painting is to be complete. This was not attempted in the third volume since it could be taken up only after an account of the Pahari schools also had been presented. Therefore, in this volume, in addition to the study of the various Pahari schools, there is extended discussion of the major themes of Rajput painting as a whole though the Pahari contribution figures perhaps more prominently in the citation of exemplifying instances.

The sources of the illustrations have been acknowledged in the captions, but I must once again express my deep gratitude to all the institutions that have helped me here. I am grateful to Dr. Geeti Sen for loaning her transparencies of the three paintings reproduced in colour in Plates VII, VIII and XI.



  I. The Cradles of Pahari Painting 1
  II. Backdrop of Basohli 4
  III Again the Old Dogma 6
  IV. Linkages with Rajasthan 12
  V. The Basohli Style 23
  I. Background of Nurpur 28
  II. The Road from Basohli 32
  III. Guler Traditions 35
  IV. The Road to Kangra 41
  I. Historical Background 47
  II. Origins of the Kangra School 51
  III. Formation of the Kangra Style 57
  I. The Background 63
  II. Basohli Phase 65
  III. Guler Phase 67
  IV. Murals and Rumals 70
  I. Moghul Memories 76
  II. Impulses from Guler? 80
  III. Modulations on Kangra 84
  I. The Lingering Legacies 88
  II. A Variety of Blends 92
  III. The Murals 96
  I. Bilaspur 99
  II. Nalagarh 101
  III. Sirmur 105
  I. Mandi 107
  II. Arki 110
  III. Jammu and Poonch 114
  IV. Mankot, Suket, Siba 121
  I. The Krishna Theme 125
  II. Feminine Profiles 132
  III. Visualisation of Melodies 142
  IV. The Pageant of the Seasons 147
  V. Life of the People 154
    INDEX 165

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