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B.A.

1st year Indian Painting

Dr. O. P. Parameswaran, Assistant Professor, Department of Fine Arts, Post Graduate Govt. College for Girls, Sector-11, Chandigarh

Indian Painting

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015 (Perfection of wisdom in 8000 verses) Palm Leaf Painting, Buddhist, Period-Palas

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015

Introduction: After the mural, the most important form of painting in India is illustration of religions and secular text. A major school of manuscript illumination flourished in the Buddhist monasteries of eastern India, Bangladesh and Nepal during the reign of the Palas (c.A.D.800-1200), who were ardent followers of Mahayana Buddhism.

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015

A later development, Vajrayana Buddhism stressed on meditation and worship of cosmic Buddhas, bodhisattva and a lot of divinities. Images of the divinities were therefore realized in stone metal and in wall paintings, banners and manuscript illuminations, according to strict and detailed iconographic rules.

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015

Depictions of Buddhist deities, the major events of the life of Buddha and occasionally of narrative sequences from Jatakas, became an inseparable part of the art of the religious book. The manuscripts, with calligraphy of quiet grandeur and superbly painted iconographic details, became primarily objects of veneration.

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015


The format and nature of painting: A collection of tadapatras or slender, rectangular, palm leaves, strung together and held between two wooden binding boards constituted the basic format of a Pala manuscript. The text was carefully inscribed in Kutila script and on certain folios, oblong spaces (5.5* 7.5cm), was left for the painter.

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015

The wooden covers were embellished with the paintings of cosmic Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and numerous protective deities. Sometimes these embellished exteriors were obscured by repeated ritual daubing of sandalwood paste, vermillion, oil and milk.

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015

Commissioning, as well as transcription of religious texts and their donation to the great Buddhist libraries was believed to bring merit to the pattern and to the scribe (lekhaka). Ironically, not a single manuscript bears the name of the painter through colophons record the name of the donor, the scribe, the place and year of execution

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015

Numerous Buddhist texts were copied and illustrated in the monastic scriptoria as well as in the professional ateliers to cater to the needs of the monasticcum-educational establishments of Nalanda, Kurkihar, Vikramshila, Uddantapuri and Sri Halm.

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015

The Ashtashasrika prajnaparamita of 1015 (perfection of wisdom in eight thousand verses) is considered to be one of the most favored texts used for illustration. Other important texts were Pancharaksha (five protective charms) and the Dharani samgraha (collection of charms). None of them, however, offered the painter a narrative core appropriate for illustration

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015

Stylistic features: The main characteristics of the Ashtashasrika prajnaparamita of 1015 are as follows. The use of following lines and colors applied in a blended sequence, to raise the plasticity of the figures marked the works of the early and mid 11th century. By the beginning of the 12th century, quickly applied crisp, angular patches replaced this technique and the lines displayed a nervous energy.

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015


Pigments: The pigments were made from minerals and organic sources and tempered with glue. A similar process to that used in the wallpaintings of Ajanta. The palette consisted of white (burnt conch shell), yellow, blue (lapis lazuli), vermillion (cinnabar), crimson (lac-dye), Indian red (red ochre), green (terre-verte) and black (lamp black).

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015


Preparation leaves: The leaves were cut into a fixed size and burnished with a stone to make the surface smooth. Application of colours: The final sketch was drawn with red ochre on a thin coat of white priming.

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015

Different parts of the composition were filled with colour (Varnakarma), which were then softened with repeated application of transparent, darker tones (vartanakarma) to produce an effect of roundness and volume. Every detail was then strengthened carefully with a thin brush. The wooden covers were also painted in the same manner but where given final protective coat of resinous varnish.

Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015

Many monastic libraries were destroyed by the Turkish invaders, Muhammad of Ghur and Bakhtiyar Khalgi, who swept across the plains of northern India and eastern India after A.D.1192. Their ruthless iconoclasm compelled the Buddhist monks and painters to flee to the Himalayan regions and Nepal in search of security and congenial conditions.