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Indian soil, since the beginning of time, has been a land of creativity. It holds a culture which is extremely diverse yet equally rich. India is one nation where every region is different from other and so are the painting styles. Every region of this country is associated with certain unique art style of its own. Right from the Mithila paintings of the North to the Warli in the West, Indian painting styles are diverse and unique in their own little ways.

The foundation of Indian paintings was laid somewhere around five thousand years back during the peak of the Indus Valley civilisation. Due to the age in which it originated, the paintings of that era were a blend of spiritual and sensual appeal. This was the main reason why they are so distinctive in form and appearance and yet are so appealing. But as the time went by, a steady transformation could be witnessed in the styles of Indian paintings. These transformations were a result of the influences which various cultures had, and this made the art more diverse than ever.

The paintings of today are very different from the ones which the ancient India had; however, this difference in no way has reduced the importance of the earlier prominent styles of painting. Some styles, which still please the eye and leave a lasting impact on its viewers, are mentioned below.

  • Tanjore Painting:
    It is one of the most crucial classical forms of South Indian paintings which hold its roots in a town in Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur (anglicized as Tanjore). These paintings have a unique set of characteristics of their own. They have rich, flat and vivid colours which have a simple iconic composition. The influence of various other places like Deccani, Maratha and even European styles can be seen on Tanjore paintings. They essentially serve the devotional icons, mostly of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. These are panel paintings which are done on wooden planks and glittering gold foils are overlaid with an inlay of glass beads and other precious gems. In today’s era, they have become a famous form of souvenirs which are gifted on festive occasions in Southern India.
  • Pattachitra Painting:
    This painting has its origin from the state of Orissa and is one of the most ancient forms of Indian paintings. If we go by the English translation, then it means “cloth picture” (‘Patta’ is cloth & ‘Chitra’ is picture). These paintings are based out of Hindu mythology and are inspired by Lord Jagannath, who is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Krishna. The uniqueness of this painting rests with the fact that painters use mineral colours, which are prepared by them, and don’t prefer using chemical and factory made colours. The paintings of this era represent old murals of Orissa which dates back to the 5th Century.
  • Madhubani Painting:
    Madhubani painting is that famous style of spellbinding Indian paintings which is essentially practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar, a state in India. The themes of this style generally revolve around Hindu mythology, scenes from the royal courts and various social events like weddings. The uniqueness of this painting style comes from the fact that no space is left empty and all the gaps are beautifully filled with the images of flowers, birds and even geometric designs. The artists used to prepare the colours themselves by using the extracts of leaves, vegetables, flowers and other colour producing herbs.
  • Warli Painting:
    It belongs to Warlis, one of the major tribes of Maharashtra. This art form has its origin from the 10th century, and at that time, it was done on the walls. The inspiration of this art was drawn from daily life of the tribal and various forms of nature like rain, moon, etc. Unlike other ancient pictures of Indian origin, Warli art is characterised by the absence of any kind of mythological figures. Only Palaghat, their mother goddess who is a symbol of fertility, is used as a central motif of this art. A common feature in Warli paintings is circular patterns which are indicative of their belief that death is another beginning.

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There are various kinds of arts present in Indian paintings; however, aforementioned four styles have a significant contribution towards Indian art and, therefore, are the top picks which should be known to every art lover.