Deccani Schools of Paintings
The turbulent medieval times saw an exodus of artists to the South. These artists were patronized by the regal houses over there and gradually, three distinct schools of art developed viz. Deccani Paintings, Mysore paintings and Tanjore Paintings. The miniature painting style, which flourished initially in the Bahmani court and later in the courts of Ahmadnagar, Bijapur and Golkonda, is popularly known as the Deccan school of Painting.
Evolution of the Deccani Paintings
The Deccani painting initially absorbed influences of the northern tradition of the pre-Mughal painting of Malwa, and of the southern tradition of the Vijayanagar School of painting
(this school was rather known for Murals and Frescoes and not the miniatures and it also influenced the Mysore and Tanjore Schools, which is discussed later in this module). These influences are evident in the treatment of female types and costumes in the earliest deccani paintings.
The above statement also implies that the Deccani school developed independent of the Mughal style in the beginning, but later, as the mughal artists started migrating to down south, the schools of deccan show the influence of Mughal style.
Influence of the Mughal painters who migrated to the Deccan during the period of Aurangzeb was responsible for the development of various other centres of paintings in Deccan such as Hyderabad.
Tradition of the early Deccani painting continued long after the extinction of the Deccan Sultanates of Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golconda.
The colors of the Deccani schools paintings are rich and brilliant and are different from those of the northern painting.
Distinctive features of the Deccani paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries are observed in the treatment of the ethnic types, costumes, jewellery, flora, fauna, landscape and colours.
- Ahmednagar painting: This school was patronized by Hussain Nizam Shah I of Ahmednagar. The important illustrated manuscript is “Tarif-i-Hussain Shahi“.
- Bijapur Paintings: This school was patronized by Ali Adil Shah I (1558-80 A.D.) and his successor Ibrahim II (1580-1627 A.D.). Important and notable work is Najum-al-ulum (Stars of Sciences), which has as many as 400 miniature illustrations. The court of Sultan Ali Adil Shah I had Persian artists and that is why these paintings show profuse use of gold colour, some flowering plants and arabesques on the top of the throne, derived from the Persian tradition. The maximum number of miniature paintings was produced during the times of Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II. It’s worth note that some paintings of Bijapur show influence of Lepakshi temple Murals, particularly in the depiction of the women.
- Golconda Paintings: The patrons of the Golconda paintings were the Qutb Shahi rulers. The first important work was accomplished during the times of Muhammad Quli Qutab Shah (1580-1611). These paintings show the dancing girls entertaining the VIPs. The Qutb Shahi rulers had employed many Persian artists and so there is a profound impact of Iranian art on the Golconda miniature paintings. Two more notable paintings are the “Lady with the Myna bird” and the “Lady smoking Hooka”.
- Hyderabad Style: The paintings in Hyderabad style developed after the foundation of Asafjahi dynasty by Chin Qulick Khan, Nizam-ul-Mulk in 1724. One example is a painting of “princes in the company of maids”. Typical characteristics of the Hyderabad painting like the rich colours, the Deccani facial types and costumes can be observed in the miniature. It belongs to the third quarter of the 18th century.