The Values of Manuscript Art. Part - 2

 In the manuscript painting of the Pala era, we can notice a kind of sculpture-like value that is not obtainable in the Jain manuscript. It is because at that time, a lot of traveler mendicants, wise figures and devotees came from China, Tibet, and Nepal in the Pala dynasty and influenced Indian artists by their native grammatical doctrine and ideas of painting and sculpture in several ways. But the Jain manuscripts just followed the traditional Indian grammar of painting out of sculpture-like value in their artistic insight. It seems the ascension from the Jain manuscript art to the miniature paintings of Rajasthan and Mughal kalam[1] was very logical and homogeneous by style and pattern which is not applicable for Pala manuscript.

Prajnaparamita from Pala Manuscript.

Subjectively, there was a reason back of it. In Jain manuscripts, we could get illustrations followed the Hindu mythological folk tale out of the paintings of Jain spiritual leaders in meditative form. Whereas the Pala manuscript only followed paintings based on the God and Goddess of Buddhism and their anecdotes. Even In those manuscripts, we can mark very fewer paintings based on the holy life of Lord Buddha than others. The fact is those figures of Buddhism already performed earlier in sculpture form. As an instance, I would like to mention some of those Buddhist God, -  such as Tara, Prajnaparamita, Vajrapani, Manjughosha etc. Therefore, we can speculate that the virtues of those forms of sculptures made an impact in Indian illustration artists of the manuscripts and they encouraged by the visitor mendicants of overseas to reform the artistry of sculpture in their painting.

 The coherent ground was the surface where an artist started illustrating the manuscript made by palm leaf, we know as “Terate Paper” mentioned earlier. Those papers were slightly bumpy due to the leaf-vein which make harder to move brushes smoothly on the surface. As a result, it was difficult to create a rhythmic line that will go smoothly. Therefore the illustrators of the Pala manuscript had a tendency to look over the sculpture-like values in the paintings of overseas experts instead of their own style and form. Notwithstanding, we can experience an incredible calligraphy art in Pala manuscripts which proved the artistic expertness by trivializing such obstacles they faced.  

Illustration of the Jain Manuscript of Kalpasutra.

As the ancestor of the Indian miniature painting, Jain manuscript art has shown its eminence by performing a wonderful anecdote art full of artistic expertness. We need to dig a bit on Jain manuscript to understand clearly the Indian miniature painting which considered as the icon of India. In the next episode, we will be discussing on the Jain manuscript art.


will continue in next episode


1. Mughal Kalam(painting) is that particular style of South Asian painting which generally confines miniatures either as book illustrations or as single works to be kept in albums, which emerged from Persian miniature painting (itself largely of Chinese origin), with Indian Muslim, Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist influences, and developed largely in the court of the Mughal Empire of the 16th to 18th centuries. The Mughal emperors were Muslims and they are credited to have consolidated Islam in South Asia, and spread Muslim (and particularly Persian) arts and culture as well as the faith.

Mughal paintings later spread to other Indian courts, both Muslim and Hindu, and later Sikh. The mingling of foreign Persian and indigenous Indian elements was a continuation of the patronisation of other aspects of foreign culture as initiated by the earlier Turko-Afghan Delhi Sultanate, and the introduction of it into the subcontinent by various Central Asian Turkish dynasties, such as the Ghaznavids.

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Last updated on - 25.09.2023