Pahari-art-cover.jpg (44951 bytes)

My Views on Pahari Paintings
by Prabal Pramanik
ISBN No. : 978-93-81200-03-2
Price : Rs. 200/-

Pahari-news.jpg (90141 bytes)

Back to home page



The word "Pahari" means something to do with hills. Yet, "Pahari Art" has a definite connotation as far as the schools of art are concerned.
The area from Jammu to Garwal in Northern area in India is important in the development of certain art styles since seventeenth century.
The old Himachal region like Lahul, Spiti, Kinnor and adjoined area had different schools or styles of art that was similar to the art in Ladakh and Tibet and was chiefly influenced by Buddhism.
The regions that included Basholi in Jammu to Kangra, Nurpur, Chamba, Guler, and even some areas of Garwal had a different developmental history as far as artistic styles are concerned and these styles were inspired by the opaque miniature painting styles of Rajasthan and also by the court painting styles of Mughal Darbar, that was influenced by Persian miniature styles.
Needs, social, political and economic prompts human beings to migrate from one area to another.
When people migrate, their art and culture migrate with them. Culture, except in certain primitive and aboriginal societies is a blend of several traits that amalgamate at different time periods.
Natural environment, social situations and value systems mould and remould the cultural presentations at every phase of human history.
When the artists from the plains came, seeking patronization and protection at the courts of hill chieftains and rulers, the environment, flora and fauna and the costumes of the hill areas influenced their artworks.
Yet their art works retained and developed the styles of painting they had brought with them. The changes in the styles created new schools of art.
Moreover, each school of art, specializing in certain styles, were propagated by the master artists who tought their pupils in the stylistic forms that they had learnt and developed.
Not only the area where schools of art remould and develop is significant but also the value system and the faith of the artists and of the patrons of the concerned art schools are important.
The tastes and demands of those patrons influenced the subjective matter of the paintings.
The artists were painting in a manner that was undoubtedly appreciated by the society oriented by traditional values and when the schools of art were developed by these migrant artists and their pupils, perhaps they never thought that they were creating a new chapter in the history of art.
My own introduction to Pahari Schools of Art came early in British Museum, in London, U.K. when I repeatedly visited the gallery of Indian miniture paintings there with my mother Dr. Kalyani Pramanik.
Mother explained the philosophy of these charming art works on small formats to me in a lucid manner.
I was a boy of ten at that time when I lived in London with my mother Dr. Kalyani Pramanik who was studying for her Ph.D degree at London University.
That collection of Pahari paintings is one of the best I have ever seen and I still remember many of them as well as the wonderful time I spent with my mother there at the gallery in British Museum.
I developed a deep attachment with this kind of miniature paintings, as it appealed to my culture and I found the style of opaque decorative work in great detail very much impressive.
Many times I visited that gallery with my mother and her guidence proved to be important in developing my aesthetic sense concerning the miniature paintings.
Those paintings opened up a new and wonderful world for me, a world I loved to travel in my mind, experiencing new sights and marvelling at a life of a different age with its set of values. Each painting opened a door to that world from a different side, revealing glimpses of lingering mysterious images that dissolved the barrier between past and present.
I am reliving those moments now as I am writing these lines. Those moments witnessed the fulfilment of a circle of appreciation between a boy and some artists who lived and worked long ago in a different world, a world that had lived on through their art, conveying their messages over the centuries.
For a sensitive soul, these paintings with immense details on miniature formats revealed moods and melodies of magic and mystry of a bygone era.
It is a surialistic effect in decorative details the miniature painting in Pahari school of olden times imparts to the recipent soul. The copymasters of later ages can never realize the true surialistic feeling of the old time master artists.
These paintings reflect the philosophy long lost in the hill society and it would be a futile effort to search for such sensitive souls who created the original compositions in Pahari Art.
My articles on Pahari art bring back personal memories with my mother in British Museum and her discussions about these schools of art.
The moods of the child who was destined to be an artist himself, lost in wonder in that gallery are recreated in these articles.
I have tried to analize Pahari Schools of art in an impartial way, appreciating this form of art while being conscious of its limitations.
I have presented in these articles what I think as my own truthful views, and I stick to my own viewpoints as they are my own.
These articles are concerned with the aesthetic aspects of Pahari Schools of art.
I do not dwell on the history of this art more than its necessary to do so to analize the aesthetic points.
Neither do I present the geneology of the artists of these Schools. The articles present my own personal aesthetic appreciation of Pahari art schools and I think my personal views may enrich the sphere of aesthetic appreciation in some aspects.

Prabal Pramanik
(from the published book "My views on Pahari paintings")
ISBN No. 978-93-81200-03-2


Web design by Arup Chandra
Multimedia Studio, Bhamlada, Bhatwan, Punjab 145 022, India
Pictures and text copyright reserved by Prabal Pramanik