Ancient Indian Texts have always piqued the interests of art aficionados and Indian art collectors. They have a particular type of creativity and form of expression. The instructions and rules relating to sculpture and painting are encoded in the Shiplashastras and Chitrsutras respectively.

Chitra means painting and sutra means rules and instructions. In archaic Sanskrit, a sculpture is known by the name of Shilpa. For a Shilpi or a Sculptor, it is important to know the intricacies involved in allied subjects like dance, music, and,  painting. It makes him understand the Bhava or the nature of a particular Mudra or gesture.

Chitrasutra says that paintings and society are inseparable. All the works of art have played a key role in shaping society as we see it today. Art was an integral part of life in ancient times. Beautiful paintings adorned the walls of people’s homes, palaces and places of public utility as temporary or permanent extensions. With walls, even the floors of rich households and king’s palaces were decorated in intricate patterns and precious stones were inlaid into these designs.

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The Six Limbs of Paintings

Chitrasutra, the ancient text on Indian paintings, describes following Angas or limbs in the art of painting:-

1. Rupa-Bheda is the variety in forms of the subject matter of paintings. It is the knowledge of myriad attributes of things-natural or manmade. For example, a painter should be able to identify the difference in the anatomy of different men, women, or other natural things.

2. Pramana denotes the proportion of different subject matters to each other within the painting. A painter must have an acute and correct perception of space in which the objects of the paintings are imbibed. This ability should be present in relation to things in the painting and also with relation to painting as a whole. It also encompasses in it the ability of a painting to be able to paint the bigger subject matter and then surround them with the lesser dominating one.  This denotes that the status of the main figures much bigger than the smaller one. Proportions guided the Indian artists more than absolute measurements. It meant a great deal of symbolism for them and were often suggestive of the underlying facts about the subject matter of the painting.

3. Bhava, known as the depiction of emotions and feelings. It means that artists should have the capability of drawing the inner emotions of the subject matter into the painting to fill life into it. This particular ability takes time and patience to build as it takes many factors into consideration. Every facial expression has different permutations and combinations of the eyes, stance, gestures of hands and other limbs, surroundings, nature, birds, and, animals. Even the inanimate things like water, mountains and rocks, the manifestation of omnipresent air through them, leaves-either dead or in full bloom. In paintings that are made to capture a narrative, special abilities are required to draw these as dramatization and reactions of characters demand.

Foundations of Indian Paintings

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As we all know, the color gives life to a painting, the different feelings and emotions of the model of the painting are captured by different tones of these colors. It could be achieved by manipulating the density and shades. It is the true test of an artist as it needs an ingenious and creative to generate a marvel.

4. Lavanya-Yojanam is the art of creating lustre in patterns like a hologram which appears different when seen at different angles. It adds grace to the beauty of the painting. If one is painting a dancer, then her moves are captured by the utmost tenderness. If one wants to capture a swooning lover then the painter has to deal with his charm. This ignites the heart of the spectator. The primary purpose of this is to lighten the mood of the ambience where the painting is placed. It aims to mellow don the ongoing struggle in the soul of the onlooker.

5. Sadrushya is the manifestation of likeness. It is the art of making a painting resemble the subject matter to the highest degree. The painting carved by the instruction of Sadrushya would always depict the subject matter as it exists in the real world. This demands the attention of the artists to minute details of the bhava of the subject matter generally and specifically.

6. Varnika-Bhanga is the style of mixing the colors and applying them with distinctness to produce different kinds of brushwork. If one wants to become a pro in the art of improvising the consistency and tone of the color should practice the rules of Varnika-bhanga. It includes detailed instructions as to the use of brushstrokes, the application of pressure to be applied to produce the desired result and the angles at which they should be kept with respect to the canvas. It is a manifestation of the experiences of an artist. it takes years of practice to master the myriad movements.

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Different Types of Representations in ancient Indian Paintings

The ancient paintings were made on different things that were used as the canvas. They were made with materials that were readily available in nature. Some of them are as follows:-

1.    Wall or Bitthhi

2.    Pictorial representations made onboard known as Phalaka

3.    Canvas or Pata

4.    Scrolls which were called Dussa Pata in the archaic language.

5.    Leaves manuscripts which were generally palm leaves known as Patra.

Scrolls were rolled on a cylindrical log which facilitated the accommodation of these lengthy and continuous paintings online.

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These are lost marvels of Indian art and sculptures which are not very famous as they faced sever bias at the hands of colonialism. These instructions and rules are encyclopedias on ancient knowledge. These manuscripts hold a place of utmost importance for both anthropologists and archaeologists as it demystifies the mysteries hidden by the fog of ignorance. Sometimes, ignorance is not bliss. Enlightenment is needed to understand our glorious culture and feel pride in what we are and who we were.