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Shopping for Indian Paintings

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Indian Paintings

The tradition of paintings in India goes back to antiquity. In fact the painting here has its roots in the mythology as mentioned in the Chitra Jakshana – the earliest Indian treatise on painting. The tradition of painting is also evident from the murals of Ajanta & Ellora, the Buddhist palm leaf manuscripts, Mughal and Kangra School of paintings and other frescos sprinkled across India. Here are few places popular for exquisite paintings in India.

» Madhubani Paintings – Madhubani, Bihar

Madhubani Painting is also known as Mithila Painting and the legend has it that this style of painting originated at the time of the Ramayana, when King Janak asked artists to do paintings at the time of marriage of Sita - his daughter to Lord Ram.

Madhubani Paintings

Madhubani Painting is done by the women of villages around the town of Madhubani (which literally mean forests of honey) and other areas of Mithila. The painting was traditionally done on freshly plastered mud wall of huts, but now it is also done on cloth, hand-made paper and canvas.

The theme of the Madhubani Paintings is usually revolves around Hindu deities like Durga, Lakshmi, Sarswati, Ram, Krishna and Shiva. One of the common features of a Madhubani Painting is that generally no space is left empty. The gaps are filled using paintings of animals, birds, geometric patterns and paintings of flowers. Court scenes and image depicting love scene are quite common to a Madhubani Painting. Jitwarpur village in the district is a nice place to shop for Madhubani Paintings in Bihar. There are various other places in the Madhubani district that one can explore for finest of Madhubani Paintings.

» Thangka Paintings - Leh

The art of Thangka Paintings dates back to centuries. The tradition of Thanka Paintings originated in Tibet, where it was being practiced in the 3rd century BC. The word ‘Thangka’ is derived from the Tibetan word ‘thang yig’ meaning a written record. Thangkas are fine paintings that are made by hand with extreme care and concentration.

Thangka Paintings

Thangkas come in various styles and depict a number of subjects. A Thangka Painting may portray the Buddha or some other deity, or a concept in Tibetan astrology, cosmology or medicine. The iconography of the thangka is rich in information about the spiritual practice of Buddhists. A thangka can help a meditator to learn and emulate the qualities of a particular deity, or to visualise his or her path towards enlightenment. It can bring blessings on the household and serves as a constant reminder of the Buddha’s teachings of kindness, compassion and wisdom. Thangkas of particular deities may be used for protection or to overcome difficulties such as sickness.

Thangka paintings are not easy to make and involves expertise in many techniques be it sketching the illustrations, learning to grind and apply the paints or to prepare and apply details in pure gold.

A number of shops in Leh sell exquisite Thangka Paintings. It is best to buy Thangka Paintings and other handicraft items from the Tibet Refugee centre at Choglamsar village. The district handicraft centre here also has a Thangka Painting Centre. Other reliable places to shop in Leh include J & K Handicraft Showroom (near Golden Hotel), Tibetan Handicraft Shop (main bazaar) and J&K Government Art Emporium (near New Bus Station).


Best Places to shop for Paintings in India

  • Madhubani Paintings, Madhubani, Bihar
  • Thangka Paintings, Leh, McLeodganj
  • Pahadi Paintings, Chamba, Kangra, Mandi (HP)
  • Mysore Paintings, Mysore, Bangalore

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