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Natural Colours And Their Significance In Indian Art

Natural Colours

Indian art is a visual treat. Artists besides employing vibrant colours also add natural patterns to create an appealing piece of art. Ancient Indian artworks like Gond, Pichwai, Miniature, or Kalighat depicted everyday life scenes influenced by nature and its elements. To make these art pieces unique and appealing, artists used vibrant colours inspired by nature. Let’s take a peek in the natural colour of Indian Art.

In this blog, you will learn about these natural colours and their significance in Indian Art.

Natural Colour Of Madhubani
Image Credits: CrazyLassi’s Madhubani Art Practise and Research Blog (1); Weebly (2)

How Are Colours Important For Indian Art?

Can you recall any piece of art that made you awe? It might have been an emotional experience, and your eyes were brimming with tears as soon as you laid your eyes on that vibrant artwork.

Artists in any culture use vibrant colours to evoke emotional responses in viewers, further encouraging them to feel the artists’ emotions. It offers an extra layer between artist and audience alike! 

They used different hues to showcase different moods in their artwork. Every colour has a specific significance and unique characteristics. Since ancient times artists extracted these colours from natural elements, carefully sourced from mother nature.

Sourcing Of Natural Colours

If we take a trip down memory lane and review the primary colours we learned in elementary school: red, yellow & blue. These are “the primaries”, as they are the main colours, and we get a set of secondary colours upon mixing these primary colours.

All colours in the spectrum are a combination of any two primary colours. Artists also use black and white to add a mood element and depth to any art. The prominent use of two more colours- gold and silver, gives the artwork a royal and lavish look.

Natural Colour
Image Credits: CNBC TV 18 (1); Business World (2)

Have you ever wondered how artists in ancient times could source colours? Evidently, they were able to extract colours or dyes from tree roots, bark, flowers, vegetables, metals, and many other natural sources. As you can imagine, the process was strenuous.

The artists extracted bright blues from indigo, whereas red was extracted from chay roots, beetroots, manjistha, pomegranate seeds, Aal tree, lac insects and various sources. From boiling indigo with pomegranate peels mixed with a solution of Haldi and alum gave vibrant green colours. The rich yellow was extracted from turmeric and pollens of some special flowers. In addition they extracted royal purples from pea flowers mixed with lime juice. Addition of mixture of alum, jaggery, and water gives different shades.

Artists collected shades of black from the soot of the lamp, further blended them with mustard oil. Reddish black8were collected from reddish mitti with high iron content. Continuous cooking of rusted iron with water and jaggery produced jet black. They used fine powder of gold and silver mixed with glue or honey to give a royal look to their artwork.

Natural Colour
Image Credits: HIPAMS

Significance Of Colours In Indian Art


The colour red is associated with romance, assertion, and physical prowess. It can create a beautiful contrast on all skin types while making them look flattering.


Yellow is a warm colour that evokes feelings of hope, happiness, and wisdom. Artists beautifully give a touch of yellow to their art to showcase the warmth in the viewers’ minds.

Natural Colour
Image Credits: Dsource (1); In Bed With Mona Lisa (2); GoKnapping (3)


The colour blue shows a kind of expansiveness similar to that found in oceans or skies, associated with not only calmness but often sadness.


We get orange by mixing red and yellow. Its striking colour not only signifies youthfulness but also gives an exhilarating sense of freedom and fearlessness.


Green depicts balance, fertility, harmony, security, besides sickness and jealousy. Mixing yellow and blue together gives green. 


The mixture of blue and red creates this vibrant, exciting colour and is associated with royalty. Purple has been used to portray dignity because of its elegant shade.


Black is a colour that showcases many emotions. It symbolises grief in some cultures while reflecting sophistication and mystery in others. Artists mix a tinge of this colour with other colours to give depth to their artwork.


White is a colour that symbolises safety, cleanliness, and purity. Its brightness in appearance, when used with other colours, creates an eye-catching piece of art.

Fun Fact of Natural Colour
Image Credits: The Pichhvai Painting Tradition of Rajasthan, Desmond Peter Lazaro

So, curious enough to know more about the usage of these natural colours and their significance? Join us on Instagram @rooftop_app for all the latest updates and download the Rooftop app available for both iOS and Android devices.

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