MINIATURE PAINTINGS IN KARNATAKA
Miniature paintings do not really constitute a major part of the art scenario in the annals of Karnataka. They are not even as proficient as mural paintings. They are essentially confined to the paintings on the borders of the ‘Dhavala’ and similar manuscripts found in places such as Mudabidri, Shravanabelagola etc. and calligraphy and drawings done during the Adilshahi days in Bijapur and surrounding regions. This tradition was continued in the illustrated manuscripts and books produced during the regime of the Wodeyar dynasty. This brief note includes independent miniatures and the illustrations that accompany a manuscript.
celebrated trinity of Dhavala texts is present in the library of the Jain
mandir at Mudabidri in Karkala talluk of
One needs to travel a great distance both in terms of time and space to find the next instance of miniature drawings and paintings in Karnataka. The Adilshahi dynasty based in Bijapur encouraged calligraphy and text illustrations hugely. These artists created a new style known as ‘dakhani’. They drew miniature paintings on paper and provided illustrative drawings and paintings to the manuscripts. Many of them are related to music, and contain ‘raaga-raagini’ paintings. The library maintained by Ismail Adil Shah (1510-1534) contained many illustrated texts. ‘Najm-Al-Uluum’ a book on astronomy had about 900 hundred paintings. A book on musicology titled, ‘Jawahar-Al-Muscath-e Mahamadi’ contained about fifty paintings including one of ‘Saraswati’. Ibrahim Adil Shah (1580-1627) was himself a writer and his book on music, ‘Kitab-I-Nauras’ contains many illustrations. Portraits of kings and queens were sometimes painted in the miniature style. Even, ‘bAramAsa’ paintings which depict the beauty of seasons with appropriate poetry passages have to be mentioned here because they too are miniature paintings in their own right.
The next era in the history
of miniature/illustrative paintings in Karnataka took shape during the regime
of the Wodeyar dynasty. Mummadi Krishnraja Wodeyar encouraged the artists
belonging to these categories. He has written a number of books and most of
them contain drawings and illustrations. ‘Sri Tatvanidhi’, ‘Svarachudamani’,
‘Saugandhikaa Parinaya’ and ‘Sachitra Bharata’ are the more important ones
among them. ‘Sri Tatvanidhi’ is one of the most celebrated texts of its kind in
Kannada. It has literally thousands of colour paintings, thematically related
to mythology, epics, musicology, history etc. It contains nine sections called ‘shaktinidhi’,
‘brahmanidhi’, ‘vishnunidhi’, ‘shivanidhi’, ‘grahanidhi’, ‘vaishnavanidhi’,
‘shaivanidhi’, ‘aagamanidhi’ and ‘kautukanidhi’. Each one of them has
appropriate paintings. “Saugandhika Parinaya’ contains about 800 paintings depicting
details taken from contemporary lifestyles. ‘dEvanAma kusumamanjari’ has many
paintings royal seals, thrones, weapons, rivers, hills and trees. All of them
adhere to the unique style of traditional
Thus, miniature style of painting does not form an unbroken tradition in Karnataka. It consists only of certain islands of excellence.
1. http://golgumbad.com/bcm_7.htm (An article on ‘Kitab i Nauras’
2. Production of Miniature Paint (An article on miniature paintings of Bijapur)
3. http://www.salagram.net/SILAS%204.JPG (Salagrama images from ‘Sri Tattvanidhi’)
4. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5D2Wzovowzc/SK0PgiM2oHI/AAAAAAAAAHU/nOKdP9wS2nc/s320/kautuka-nidhi.jpg ( A page from ‘Sri Tattvanidhi’)
5. ‘ದಖನಿ ಚಿತ್ರಕಲೆ’, (‘Dakhani Art’ by S.K.Aruni) ಎಸ್.ಕೆ. ಅರುಣಿ, 2001, ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಲಲಿತಕಲಾ ಅಕಾಡೆಮಿ, ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು.