Mewar School of Painting
Udaipur, as we know it today, is the former principality of Mewar. In the ancient as well as medieval times, Mewar was known to be a great centre of artistic and cultural activities.
The oldest manuscripts of Mewar painting include the ‘Supasanachariyam‘ and ‘Suparsanatham‘ painted in about 1423 AD. These show the traces of Apabhransa style, which can be identified with projecting eyes. The Mewar style as a distinct school emerged only by the end of 16th century.
During the medieval era, Mewar passed through a turbulent period of political unrest, yet, the Rajput kings went on patronising the art and in fact helped it to grow up into distinct style.
Note: Ragmala Paintings
Ragmala paintings are a distinct feature of Rajput miniature paintings. These are pictorial representation of Indian Ragas and Raginis. The mode and time of Raga is expressed through brilliant colours and colourfully dressed Nayak and Nayikas. They are usually dressed in contemporary royal fashion.
The two rulers viz. Rana Kumbha (1433-1464) and Rana Sanga (1509-1539) were great patrons of art. Udai Singh and Rana Pratap are also known to have given refuge to the artisans and craftsmen. Pratap’s son Amar Singh produced a remarkable set of Ragamala painted with the help of these artists. This ragamala was the earliest-dated example of Mewar School and it was painted at Chavand.
The real beginning of a polished style of Mewar painting started in 1571 AD. By that time, it fully replaced the ‘Apabhransa’. One immediate reason of development of this school was that a large number of artists migrated from Mandu to Mewar after Baj Bahadur, the ruler of Mandu was defeated by Mughals in 1570. Thus, we can conclude that the new Mewar style originated as an offshoot to the Central Indian painting.
The times of Jagat Singh (1628-1652) , the Mewar painting reached its highest glory.
Important Features of Mewar Paintings
- In these paintings, bright and brilliant red, orange, green, bright-blue colours have been profusely used.
- Male and female figures have long noses, oval shaped faces, elongated fish-like eyes. This is the influence of the Apbhramsa style.
- The female figures have been drawn relatively smaller than the male.
- The males use loose fitting garments embroidered Patka and Turbans and the females usc loose long skirts, choli and transparent odhnis (veils).
- The paintings of the birds, animals and trees are ornate, the flowers drawn in bunches, and the Hills and Mountains depicted in Persian style. Small hillocks and mounds have been inserted into the paintings.
Sub-styles of Mewar
The Nathdwara sub-style, Devgarh Sub-style and the Shahpura sub-style have developed from the Mewar style.
Nathdwara, as most of you may know is a place near Udaipur, where the famous Shrinath Ji temple of 17th century is located. Shrinathji is a 14th-century, 7-year-old “infant” incarnation of Krishna. The idol was originally worshipped at Mathura but was shifted in 1672 from Govardhan hill, near Mathura and retained at Agra for almost six months, in order to protect it from the men of Aurangzeb. Obviously, there was an amalgamation of the cultural traditions of the Braj and Mewar and that reflects in the Nathdwara school of paintings.
Here, a notable point is that the Pichhwai paintings are a type of the wall paintings of Nathdwara style. The main theme of the Nathdwara style is Krishna and his leelas.