The Art of Indian Miniature Painting
Miniature painting takes place on a very small scale, using tiny brushes. It originated in India around 750 AD, during the rule of the Pala Empire. Miniatures were originally painted on palm leaves, so the work had to be small enough to fit! These paintings often illustrated religious texts such as the Holy Quaran, as well as ancient myths. The paint brushes were mostly made from squirrel hair, which is small enough to capture fine detail.
Originally, miniature painters would use colours from natural sources like vegetables, precious stones, and gold and silver. Each colour has a special purpose. Black is used to provide depth, red for celebration, green for nature, blue for small details and gold leaf for armour, or to mark the head of a divine figure. See if you can notice each of these colours in the painting below, from the Minassian Collection of Indian Miniature paintings.
Art at the Heart's Miniature Painting Workshop
If this sounds exciting, why not come along to our workshop and try it for yourself? On Wednesday the 18th of August from 10am – 2.30pm, Art at the Heart are running a miniature painting workshop. This is suitable for children aged 11+ and is based at the Core, Solihull. You’ll learn more about the cultural stories that inspire miniatures, before creating your very own. Tickets are £10 per child and must be booked in advance here.
If you’d like to try some miniature artwork at home, head to our website to access our FREE miniature-inspired colouring sheet! Finish off the tropical design, before adding lots of colour – the more vibrant, the better! Don’t forget to tag us in your artwork @artattheheart_cic on Instagram so we can see your lovely ideas.
There are plenty of ways to see some miniature paintings yourself, whether in-person or online. The Birmingham Contemporary Art Gallery is holding a South Asian Art Exhibition this month, featuring miniature-inspired pieces such as the painting below by Sonal Gajbe. This depicts Radha and Krishna, two Hindu gods that feature heavily in Indian miniatures. You can also view original miniatures at the British Museum, or browse the University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Library collection of illuminated manuscripts online.
South Asian Heritage Month runs from the 18th of July until the 17th of August. You can read more about the importance of this event and how to celebrate by visiting our dedicated blog post here. And sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know about our cultural and creative events running throughout the year.