Influence Of Mughals In The Indian Painting

3 May

When the first art historians of our times looked back on the art scene, the sixteenth century which saw the arrival of the Mughals struck them forcibly as an epoch of radical transition. Seven or eight decades before 1526- the year in which Babur founded the Mughals empire by defeating the Lodis at the battle of Panipat- we seem to have only manuscript miniatures in the medieval manner. About the same duration after 1526, we have Mughals paintings, larger in size, polished in style and execution. And the output of the Rajput principalities that were politically close to the Mughals, also begins to show increasingly the influence of the Mughals atelier. Jumping to conclusions can be one of the most natural occupational hazards for the art historians in this situation. A reading was sought to be clamped down according to which Mughals painting was seen as nothing but a provincial school of Persian painting and Rajasthani and Pahari painting was regarded as nothing but the Mughals style applied to different themes. It was also aggressively asserted that, but for the arrival of the Mughals, miniature painting-as an independent category, distinguished from manuscript illustration-would not at all have emerged in India. But as we shall see, lyrical stirrings can be discerned in medieval manuscript illustration before the arrival of the Mughals; these crystallize into a school with totally different aesthetic flavour from the products of the Mughals atelier, and even before the latter strata functioning.

Expelled by Sher shah Suri, Humayun was befriended by Shah Thmasp, ruler of Safavid Persia, and towards the end of his fifteen-year exile, he commissioned two Persian painters – Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdus Samad – with the illustration of the Persian classic, Hamza nama. Though Humayun was able to return to Delhi in 1555, he died the very next year. Thi work on the Hamza Nama began only under Akbar and that too only in 1567, his twelfth regain year.

As we have seen, by this time, a proto-Rajasthani school of miniature painting had evolved out of the medieval style in India, For establishing his atelier, Akbar recruited many of Indian painters, from Gujarat, Gwalior, Kashmir and elsewhere. Of the forty-eight painters whose names are found inscribed in the 183 paintings of the “Babar Nama”, 40 are definitely indigenous painters. Persian miniatures were were the work of individual artists. But in the Mughalsatelier, the artists worked as a team. One man would execute the outlines, another the portraits, a third the landscape, and a fourth would add the colour. Though the atelier was headed by Persian masters, the high ratio of indigenous painters and the specialization of function in the corporate style of working created right from the beginning a momentum towards synthesis.

Akbar’s own temperament played a decisive role in the Persian style. Inspired by Persian poetry which was steeped in fantasy and romance, Persian painting had acquired what has been called a paradisaical temper. In radiant but unearthly landscapes, handsome princes sought and won beautiful princesses after many curious adventures where the willing suspension of disbelief that constitutes poetic faith often became rather difficult. Akbar was deeply interested in contemporaneity, in  history in the making. Painters had to chronicle not only the life of the court but accompany him in his expeditions and battles. This realistic out look influenced many elements of the pictorial style. Mughals painting does not hesitate to cut its figures at the base or sides of the frame, often showing only the body from the waist upwards within the picture. More formally composed, the Persian painting groups its figures well within the frame. Architectural elements from a simple background in Persian painting. The Mughals painter can organizes architectural panorama, spelling out their component elements with clarity. Mughals painting never uses colour in such a way as to reduce a picture to a coloured tapestry or mossic as Persian painting does. Fond of dramatic action, the Moghul painting has far greater movement and the eye is guided along the phases of episodic development by a challenging viewpoint and perspective, so subtly manipulated as to create no discord whatever in the visual experience.

Mughals under Akbar very quickly ceased to be a provincial school of Persian painting and with the illustration of Persian translations of the great Indian epics- Ramayana and Mahabharata- it became a truly Indian school of painting. The assimilation of Safavid features does not impair this Indian character any more than the assimilation Achaemenid features in the Asokan pillar affects its Indian quality.

Basically a court art, Mughals painting loved to reflect imperial pomp and circumstance and has given us magnificent pictures of royal assemblies and embassies and vivid scenes of the chase of which Akbar and Jahangir were very fond. Each of the numerous figures in the paintings of the assemblies are a meticulously finished portrait which developed also as an independent category, the drawings, sometimes with light washes of colour, being more perceptive in the reading of character than the fully coloured works. Jahangir, who was something of a naturalist, commissioned paintings of flowers, birds and animals especially the exotic types like the zebra and the Turkish-cock. Due to contact with European paintings through gifts from Jesuit missions and British embassies to the Mughals court, later Mughals attempted Christian themes and also experimented, not wholly successfully, with western perspective and chiaroscuro. Some paintings had gorgeous hashiya or border decoration.

Painting declined during the rule of Aurangzeb who had little interest in the arts. It had an insecure prolongation the eighteenth and early nineteenth century in Lucknow and Fyzabad under the Nawabs of Oudh. Moghul painting had recorded the sensuous beauty of woman, but with a curious detachment, with no indication of any romantic excitement or deeper ardor. In Ouch painting, the sensuous degrades further to the sensual and there are rather uninhibited representations of the revelry of the pleasure-loving prince and the compliment courtesan. The sublimation of heros in the most important humanistic feature distinguishing Rajput painting from the Mughals.

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One Response to “Influence Of Mughals In The Indian Painting”

  1. dev May 14, 2012 at 6:11 PM #

    Very well detailed everything about Influence Of Mughals In The Indian Painting that Mughal artists can organize architectural panorama, which clearly sets out the elements. Mughal painting is never the colors used in this way, in order to reduce the Persian painting as a color brocade or mossic picture.

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