Six Limbs of Indian Paintings - Shadanga

Indian Paintings have taken various shapes and forms varying with age, region and traditions. They have evolved from one form to another. The art has records dating back to as old as 30,000 years in a pre-historic art form which has spread from Himalayas to Tamil Nadu. The places like Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh, house some of the most elegant and rich forms of latter which gradually flourished in the form of cave paintings of famous Ajanta and Ellora caves.
Each style which donned an era in the cultural history of India comes with a special flair and style unique to that stage. The delicacies of time which spans a period from the Palaeolithic to early history furthering to medieval times have been evident. Paintings covering the upper part of ceilings, rock-cut caves, warli etc. have adorned the richness of art in India.
Medieval Indian times were graced with flamboyant art depictions in the form of Mughal paintings, Tanjore paintings, Rajput paintings, Mithila paintings etc. These had their own cues and turns which brought out their individuality and timelessness.
Painting Alekhyam occupies the fourth place among the 64 Arts enumerated by Vatsyayana in his Kama Sutra. While concluding, Vatsyayana has written a Shloka which amply indicated that painting was fully developed during that period and the six limbs of Painting (Shadangas) enumerated in the Kama Sutra were already in vogue.
The six different limbs were actually different six different points or strokes which were emphasized to infuse more life to the paintings. They were the forms of human demeanor in-toto for greater effect and appeal. These were:

  • Rupabheda which dealth with the subtle and stark differences in appearance of the figures
  • Pramanam which like pixels made the artist work on the brush to bring out the accurate perception, measure and structure
  • Bhava which made facial expressions which are generally ruled by the inner feelings. The artist had to visualize the situation, emotions and express them in form of expressions
  • Lavanya was required to add a touch of panache to complete the finesse of the work
  • Sadrisayam which called for enhanced strokes on enumerating the similitude in the subjects’ attitude or action and lastly
  • Varnikabhanga was the leeway which added the flavour of individuality in every piece of art as it allowed the artist to use the brush and colors in his own artistic flair.

Such richness endowed in Indian art makes it unparalleled and precious.

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