FOLK HERITAGE

TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES OF PAHARI PAINTINGS

PAHARI MINIATURE PAINTINGS- V

Pahari miniature paintings developed over a long period of time under different Shailis or “schools of art“. These paintings evolved at different places or towns of the Pahari region during different time intervals which we have elaborately discussed in our earlier posts including Basohli, Guler, Chamba, and Kangra.

Check out: BASOHLI SCHOOL OF PAINTINGS , KANGRA SCHOOL OF PAINTING , GULER SCHOOL OF PAINTINGS , CHAMBA SCHOOL OF PAINTING

Several artists due to political uncertainty or any other reason, lost the patronage of the feudal rulers and migrated to other kingdoms in the hope of new shelter and patronization. The credit to begin the Pahari style of paintings goes to Raja Kripal Pal (1678-1731) of Basohli. Basohli thus became the center for Pahari artists to showcase their skills and flourished as the earliest school of Pahari paintings.

Shiva create virabhadra when Narada tell about death of sati

TOOLS / MATERIALS USED IN PAHARI PAINTINGS :

1. Seashells or SEEP:

Shells with smooth surfaces are used to keep and mix colors for pahari paintings during Mughal era. Seashells help to avoid mixing of colors and even if the color dries on the shell, it can be reused by easily adding water.

2. PAINT Brushes:

The paint brushes are hand crafted by painters themselves with great precision and delicacy. For fine detailing, soft hairs from squirrel’s tail were used. Brushes were also made up from the hairs of peacock, fox, goat, horse, donkey or calf ears. This is however unfortunate and must be discouraged.

3. Hakik ka patthar:

The stone is used as burnishing stone and is rubbed on a handmade paper coated with a mixture of Khadiya and Gond. This helps in creating a smooth canvas and therefore the movement of brush becomes easy.

For brightness, the painting was burnished with boulder or river stone called golla.

4. WOODEN ROD:

This is used for drawing straight lines on canvas just like a scale.

5. cANVAS:

The painting is done either on cloth or handmade paper usually from Siyalkot. It is actually a place in Punjab (India) now in Pakistan, where handmade papers were largely produced during those times.

6. Gond OR GLUE:

It is used to mix with Khadiya or white chalk to make the base color.

7. VARAKH:

The Gold Leaf or Silver leaf is called Varakh in hindi. They are used in forms of foils so as to enhance the borders and jewelry of the drawn/painted characters like kings and queens, god-goddesses in the paintings.

SILVER/GOLD FOIL

USING ECO-FRIENDLY COLORS FOR PAINTINGS

The colors in Pahari paintings are eco-friendly ( PLANT BASED PIGMENTS AND DYES and MINERAL BASED PIGMENTS AND DYES), thus laboriously made. They are so lustrous that even after so many years these colors in paintings have retained shine and not faded at all. The colors are obtained from sources like:

  • WHITE– Khadiya chalk
  • ORANGE– Sindoor (vermillion)
  • YELLOW– Cow urine, Varki-hartal, Ramraj
  • LIGHT YELLOW– Sararevan
  • Green– Malachite
  • RED– Shingraf (a type of stone)
  • DEEP RED– Aalta, Krimidana fruit
  • BLUE– Lazward, Indigo
  • Black– Kajal created by holding a burning wick under a metal surface
  • GREY– Hazratbal
  • SILVER/GOLD– Silver/Gold foil Lac color

COLORS ARE TREATED BEFORE USE

The colors obtained from vegetable, mineral or other sources are carefully treated before their final use. Many shades, hues and tints were created by diligent combinations of different colors or pigments. Because of the passionate color making process and precise use in the Pahari paintings, they became significant to the Kangra artists. For stronghold on canvas, every color is mixed up with the gum obtained from the babul tree. The process is interesting, have a look-

BLUE:

It is an important color in Pahari miniature used as a color for Krishna or Vishnu. Its plant source is THE BLUE DYE – INDIGO or Neel.

Blue is also extracted from lapis lazuli which is a mineral. This stone is effortly crushed, grounded into powder which yield rich color tone. The powdered ultramarine is also used much in Kangra style of paintings.

BLACK:

This is obtained from a natural process of burning terracotta lamp where the leftover residue- Kohl or Kajal became the source of black color. The lamp is burned in sesame oil with camphor in order to get the smooth black residue.

RED:

When the Shingraf stone (Cinnabar) was ground into powder it yield rich vibrant red color. Only the purified form of Cinnabar is used and impurities are avoided.

ORANGE:

Obtained from Sindoor plant, it is mixed with cow-urine to produce brilliant shine.

YELLOW:

The mineral source for yellow is Hartal, a stone which is grounded and sieved for extracting soft yellowish color.

Another source is cow-urine or Gau-mutra which is called Gaugoli. The cow is purposely fed with mango-leaves which makes the urine dark yellow in color. It is then dried up and used in paintings showcasing the Indian-yellow. This color is more commonly seen in BASOHLI SCHOOL OF PAINTINGS.

GREEN:

The mineral source is Dana Farang or Malachite. This is a precious stone imparting rich green shade mostly seen in Mughal style to Pahari paintings.

Various plant source also yields green color. Mixing of yellow and blue also produces green.

VIOLET:

It is obtained from the Lac produced by peepal tree. The Lac is soaked in water overnight and then fitkari, daruhaldi and suhaga are added. Boiling all these ingredients together yields violet color which is called kiram in local language.

Mian Mukund Dev of Jasrota, (Cropped version) Pahari style, ca 1740-1745.

Other than colors and tools, the motifs used in each school of painting is unique. Motifs or themes define the period in which painting is made. The motifs are inspired by the contemporary scenario and cultural and ethical approach. Find out about Pahari motifs here- DISTINCTIVE MOTIFS USED IN PAHARI PAINTINGS

Discuss your thoughts about the article in the comment section below. Let me know if you like it.

RELATED: BASOHLI SCHOOL OF PAINTINGS, GULER SCHOOL OF PAINTINGS, CHAMBA SCHOOL OF PAINTING, KANGRA SCHOOL OF PAINTING

IMAGE SOURCE: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Images


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