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Wall Paintings - The Cultural Heritage of Rajasthan

Villages and towns of Rajasthan abound in different styles of paintings. Let us look briefly at various forms of wall painting in Rajasthan.

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wall painting rajasthan

Mandana wall painting

wall painting rajasthan

sanjhi painting

wall painting rajasthan

thapa painting

wall painting rajasthan

bhil painting

wall painting rajasthan

rajput painting

Traces of wall paintings are found on Shekhawati structures erected by Muslim nawabs, Rajputs and Banias dating back to the 17th century. Let us very briefly look at each of these forms:

  • Mandana: 
    The traditions of Mandanas are quite prevalent in Rajasthan. They are drawn both on the floor and on the wall. Mandana both refers to a specific form of drawing and also to the act of drawing as in chitra mandana, to draw or paint. Mandana derives from the word mandan which means ornamentation or decoration. Mandanas are drawn by women using kharia (chalk solution) and geru (red ochre). They are drawn on the walls and floors of the houses, which are first plastered with clay and cow-dung mixture. Mandanas are festival decorations in line drawing and are iconic representation of various gods and goddesses. They are at once the seat on which a specific deity is invoked and also a symbolic representation of the deity. They are also indicative of the presence of the deity. Mandanas are drawn on the occasion of religious festivals and fasts and also during any auspicious ceremony at home concerning birth and marriage or a specially organized religious worship.
  • Sanjhi: 
    Sanjhi is associated with a specific festival by the same name, which is celebrated by unmarried girls in Rajasthan. This festival lasts for sixteen days beginning with the full moon day in the month of Bhadrapada (August-September) till the new moon day in the month of Ashwin (September-October). This period is marked in the Hindu calendar as pitri-paksha, i.e. a fortnight dedicated to ancestors. Notwithstanding many myths and songs that have been superimposed on the Sanjhi ritual and image, it can be safely said that in its origin it is linked with the worship of female ancestral spirit or goddess and is deeply associated with notions of fertility and progeny.
    Sanjhi is drawn on walls that are first plastered with fresh cow-dung. On this surface various motifs are made in bas-relief with cow-dung. These motifs are then decorated with flowers, colourful and bright strips of paper and kharia (chalk solution). A new motif is drawn each day only to be scraped off the next day. From the thirteenth day onwards the process begins to draw up a full blown Sanjhi with all the motifs put together in a parallelogram with four gateways. This full blown image of Sanjhi is called kila kot, literally meaning ‘fortified dwelling’.
  • Thapa: 
    In its more basic form of hand prints, Thapa can be witnessed anywhere in the country both across time and across regions. In Rajasthan this art has acquired diverse forms and multilevel symbolism. Along with the usual hand prints, one can witness iconic representations of various gods and goddesses that are drawn during festivals, and religious ceremonies to appease specific deities, avert disease and evil influences. Many of these drawings are associated with specific seasons. Thapas are drawn mainly by women with the help of kumkum, sindoor, henna, ghee   and cow-dung. The main colours used for making Thapas of different kinds are red, yellow, green, blue, black and yellow. However, Thapas are usually drawn using single colour and kumkum is the main ingredient used in this form of drawing.
  • Bhil Paintings: 
    In Rajasthan the Bhil tribal painting is known as Mandana, though it is different in style and context from the Mandanas discussed above. It is mostly done on the walls of the houses. These paintings begin from the base of the wall and reach up to the hight of eight to ten feet. The surface is prepared for painting by plastering the wall with black or white coloured clay and cow-dung mixture. This clay in vernacular is called garu or gar. After the wall dries up, painting is done with the help of a cotton swab or piece of cloth tied to the twig of neem or babul tree. The colours used are mostly white, black, blue, yellow or saffron and these are obtained from vegetables or locally available clay or stone. The paintings are figurative in design and sketch various forms of birds, animals, humans, gods, goddesses, depicting man-nature relationship. Social customs, religious beliefs and tribal worldview find reflection in these paintings.
  • Rajput Painting: 
    Rajput painting, also called Rajasthani painting, evolved and flourished in the Royal courts of Rajputana in India. Each Rajputana kingdom evolved a distinct style of painting, but with certain common features. Rajput paintings depict a number of themes like the events of epic Ramayana etc. Miniatures in manuscripts or single sheets to be kept in albums were the preferred medium of Rajput painting, but many paintings were done on the walls of palaces, inner chambers of the forts, Havelis as well; particularly the Havelis, forts & palaces of Shekhawati kings.
    The colours for these paintings were extracted from certain minerals, plant sources, conch shells, and were even derived by processing precious stones. Gold and silver were also used.

source: ignca.nic.in, wikipedia

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