Kangra painting


Kangra painting

Kangra paintings of ancient India belong to the school of Pahari paintings that were patronized by the Rajput rulers between the 17 th and 19 th centuries.

Pahari paintings, as the name suggests, were paintings executed in the hilly regions of India, in the sub-Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh. It is in the development and modification of Pahari paintings, that the Kangra School features. Under the patronage of Maharaja Sansar Chand, it became the most important center of Pahari painting.

Themes of Kangra Paintings

Perhaps, the most popular theme of this ancient art from Kangra, was the Radha-Krishna legend . Inspired by Jayadeva's Gita Govinda, artists played out the love drama of these two lovers in idyllic forests and besides river banks. The Sat Sai depictions of the legendary lovers, on the other hand, were set against an architectural background with walls, balconies and windows. Kangra paintings influenced by the Bhagavad Purana portrayed incidents from the life of the young Krishna, against the Brindavan forest or river Yamuna. The other popular themes were the stories of Nala and Damayanti, and those from Keshavdas's Baramasa. Features of Kangra Paintings

One striking feature of the ancient Indian Kangra paintings is the verdant greenery it depicts. The style is naturalistic, and great attention is paid to detail. The foliage depicted is vast and varied. This is made noticeable by using multiple shades of green. The Kangra paintings feature flowering plants and creepers, leafless trees, rivulets and brooks.

The Kangra artists adopted various shades of the primary colors and used delicate and fresher hues. For instance, they used a light pink on the upper hills to indicate distance.

Kangra paintings depict the feminine charm in a very graceful manner. Facial features are soft and refined. The female figures are exceptionally beautiful.

Later Kangra paintings also depicted nocturnal scenes, and storms and lightning. The paintings were often large and had complex compositions of many figures and elaborate landscapes. Towns and house clusters were often depicted in the distance.

The Kangra painters used colors made of vegetable and mineral extracts. They employed cool and fresh colors. Kangra paintings are known for the lyrical blending of form and color. The Kangra Arts Promotion Society an NGO is working for the promotion of this art which is at the verge of extinction today.


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