Pala School represents the earliest examples of miniature painting in India. Discuss the key features of this school of painting.

Published: May 1, 2016

Pala School represents the earliest examples of miniature painting in India. The Buddhist monasteries (mahaviharas) of Nalanda, Odantapuri, Vikramsila and Somarupa, patronized by Palas were great centres of Buddhist learning and art.
The paintings are in the form a large number of manuscripts on palm-leaf relating to the Buddhist themes. These centres had also the workshops for the casting of bronze images. Students and pilgrims from all over South-East Asia gathered there for education and religious instruction. They took back to their countries examples of Pala Buddhist art, in the form of bronzes and manuscripts which helped to carry the Pala style to Nepal, Tibet, Burma, Sri Lanka and Java etc.
The illustrated manuscripts of Pala Empire mostly belong to the Vajrayana School of Buddhism.
Pala style is naturalistic and resembles the ideal forms of contemporary bronze and stone sculpture, and reflects some feeling of the classical art of Ajanta. The best example is the manuscript of the Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita. After the Muslim invasions, many of the monks and artists escaped and fled to Nepal, which helped in reinforcing the existing art traditions there and led to the decline of Pala art of miniature in India.

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