The Grammar Book of Painting


I am now going to hash out some of the important points related to the art from an ancient grammar book of painting, performed as the world's first grammar book.


At first of my life, I read this book when I was the student of Art College, but that book was briefly and recomposed only for the syllabus of fine art and moreover, written in the Bengali language. After receiving my degree, I found that grammar book again in Bengali version translated from Sanskrit. It was all in the details.


 The original book named Kamasutra is still available everywhere and most probably, in the various languages; because  it's a very popular sex guide book. The Chittrasadanga (Sanskrit language; meaning, - six aphorisms) is a part of that book, written by the famous sage named Batsayan at the mythological era. 

Hindu scripture. From personal collection.

There are few other ancient books of grammar related to the painting, sculpture and Gothic art had been dominating on that oldest era but, unfortunately, most of those are now lost from the world. Only a few references are remaining elsewhere of those books. Name of those books was, - Vishnudharmattor, Chittrasutra, Shilparatna, Saraswatishilpa and more. All of those books were in the Sanskrit language, however, motivated to the artists who had the intimate contribution in the temple and cave painting of South India. Those books have composed after the era of Lord Buddha although the aphorisms and some of the important methods of the grammar had been performing as the linguistic type grammar from the pre-Buddhist era. Therefore, theoretically, we do not detect any change in the grammatical portion of the painting, if we tend to compear between Hindu and Buddhist style. Only there would be a difference in the subject matter and spiritual vision.

It is ascertained that the book named Chitrasutra, is the earliest book in the comparison of other said books that has composed in the 6th century AD. The version of this book related to the aphorisms, composition, and equipment of painting, the eminence and deterioration of a painting moreover, it described regarding the concept of foreshortening!  



But the book Kamasutra is most probably the world's first ancient book that described in details regarding the actual aphorisms of painting and the other said books were just have followed the Kamasutra.  In this book, the author clearly identified what art and artistic sense are, what would be the basic level of artistic vision, and how an artist should compose a painting depending on his beliefs or experience he acquired from the surrounding nature. The author also provided a guideline for artists what should be the consummate path to represent the artistic impressions on canvas. I am just surprised to see the explanation of modern painting whichever unbelievable in regards to the comparison of the era and still now, without any uncertainty, it is highly acceptable in the contemporary platform for art. Moreover, in this book, the author also gave the idea of tattoos and body painting! 

In India, the importance of this grammar book is still unavoidable and the students of fine art are sill following these aphorisms in the guidance of their art teachers.

Sunrise. curtsy - www.wikimedia.org

From very far past, before the era of Lord Buddha, this concept of grammar appraised by some ancient sages and they composed a specific scripture after various research. Agreeing to their instruction, the grammar of painting/sculpture carved up by six aphorisms. It has produced a complete guideline of “art” widely; however, it has not revealed who the real generator of this grammar of painting was. Merely it had been distinguished the name of a famous monk, Batsayan, who composed a unique scripture of sexual guidelines and in that book, we have found a total description in regards of those six aphorisms of grammar. Likewise, it is difficult to determine the actual time of writing of the book “Kamasutra”. A famous art critique Parse Brown ascertained, that it was written in the BC third century or so on.  Batsayan confessed that he was not the real generator of the grammar book of painting, however, he too unable to define the name of the actual author of those aphorisms since as I aforementioned that traditionally it was in the linguistic form; Batsayan just converted those aphorisms in the written form. 

Here I am repeating those names, -



Meaning - Conception about nature and its elements.



Meaning - Clear conception of symmetrical drawing, balance, and composition conforming to the sense of an artist.



Meaning – Superimposing the emotion or Expression on any object or the body language and expansion of feelings.



Meaning -  Create a luminosity and expanse its beauty.



Meaning - Find out the similarities ( direct or indirect ) between two separate objects.



Meaning - Techniques of using the materials of painting (preferably colors ) or understand the language of color tones.


 It is famous by this name – “ CHITRA-SADRANGA”. The meaning of SADRANGA  is six part of the body of the aphorism. 

From that era, it is the most acceptable and important guidelines for artists. There are many explanations regarding those aphorisms, but here I am going to discuss the most acceptable clarification, established by research and proved practically in the workshop. Each aphorism has versatile significances depend on the experiences however; it must have a standard definition and estimation.

 It would be my pleasure if my efforts should be able to help all students and art lovers to understand and enjoy a painting and inspire them to go with perfection.

In the next episode, I'll discuss in details regarding the first aphorism named - RUPVEDHA. You will learn and discover some wonderful concepts of the BC third century related to the artistic thought and vision. So, don't forget to stay tuned. Thank you.  



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Last updated on - 07.12.2023