Miniature Painting – A Brief Introduction to the Detailed Art

Royal Mughal painting in work of gold

Miniature painting is a traditional style of art that is very detailed and focused on engraving and sculptures dated back to the medieval period. Miniatures are executed on cloth, books, and albums. It is painted to have a smooth surface as possible. It is because of the fact these paintings are known as illustrators.

Early manuscripts contain miniature paintings on their pages that depict an engaging arrangement of flowers on their borders.

Origin of miniature paintings
The actual miniature painting took its form from the western Himalayas during the 17th century AD. These paintings were influenced by the mural paintings that originated in the 8th century.
Do you know miniature paintings were done on palm leaves in the bygone era?
The need for illustrating documents and manuscripts led to the emergence of miniature paintings. It was used to convey a story and the context of the written word.
What is the standard size of a miniature painting in India?
For a painting to qualify as a miniature it should not be more than 25 square inches and the subject should be painted within 1/6th of its actual size.
Interesting eh?
You must be thinking that painting that much small stuff is impossible! But yeah it is!
Though large-sized miniature paintings are recognized throughout the world and time-consuming, the era of smaller ones, still dominated the art lovers.
Miniature paintings are unique in the sense that they are often used on Russian objects like lacquer boxes that distinguishes Russian miniature art from the rest of the world.
Confusion between Miniature or Miniaturized
The term “miniature” is often confused with “miniaturize”. These are two separate definitions. Miniature paintings can be intricate structures on a small or a big canvas or objects. It inculcates the essence of the tradition and each painting seems to cast a similar vibe.

(Painting on canvas in acrylic colors with gold (Miniature style work).
What technique is used in the miniature painting?
A special kind of hand-made paper “basli” is used by miniature painting artists in several parts of India. The paper is made by fusing multiple layers of sheet extracted from bamboo, rice stalk, and other things that complement the art.

Characteristics of Miniature Paintings
Now, the question is,
What kind of painting is considered a miniature painting?
Here are some of the characteristics of miniature paintings:
• The paintings covers less than 25 sq. inches
• Subjects are depicted in 1/6th of the actual size
• The miniature paintings are based on themes like court scenes, gardens, palaces, hills, valleys, the life of Lord Krishna, animal fights, or hunting scenes
• It is confined to the themes of the Mughal court
• Synthesis of Indian and Persian elements
• The golden color used in the painting symbolizes royalty and prosperity o Mughals
• The colors of miniature paintings are homemade and are made from vegetables, minerals, conch shells, pure gold, or silver.
• These paintings are associated with Ragas

Common Themes of Miniature Paintings
• Gita Govinda
• Mythology
• Rasamanjari
• Naladamayanti
• Ragamalas
• Khaka
• Portraiture
• Baramasa
What does a Miniature painting symbolize?
The miniature paintings give an insight into the life of the royals and the common man, the beauty of the woman folk, and the devotion of the artist to the paintings.
How to paint a miniature painting?
• Use the right size brush for the job
• Know the characteristics and technique
• Choose the right theme
• Get acquainted with the color theory
• Use good tools
• High contrast is important than staying in a comfortable line
So, now you know what miniature painting is, its themes, significance, and technique. It is the art of the court, the art of royal Mughal life. For further information, contact