Etymology: Since these miniatures arose from the state of Kota, they were named after their place of origin.
Origin: Kota miniature or ‘Kota Kalam’, as known locally, stems from the district of Kota which is a city based along the river Chambal in the state of Rajasthan.
Location: Kota, once under the rule of Bundi’s princely state, is now a province of its own. It also is one of the many regions enveloped in the State of Rajasthan.
Relevance: The Bundi, Kota, Jhalawar, and other regional styles can be categorised as the Hadoti styles. Hadavati or Haduati is a part of the western Indian state of Rajasthan and the Hada Rajput kingdom, which formerly included Bundi and Kota.
Significance: There is a depiction of greenery, shrubbery, and fauna which is the most distinctive feature of Kota Miniatures. Beginning in the 1660s during the reign of Jagat Singh (1658–1683), Kota had its school following its separation from Bundi. Earlier, it was challenging to distinguish apart Bundi and Kota paintings since Kota artists were taking inspiration from Bundi paintings.
Culture and Societies: The artists of Kota extensively illustrated the Hindu epics and the ‘Barahmasa’ which translates to twelve months, and talks about the pain of separation and the romanticism of seasons changing which is enjoyed by men and women. As Kota excelled in the depiction of hunting scenes, the passion for the chase, developed into a social ritual in which even women of the court took part.
Religious significance: Additionally, Kota has been a hub for Pushti Margiya sect religious activities. There are countless ways that Lord Krishna has been portrayed in the Kota style. Themes, including Bal Leela, cow grazing, and Makhan Leela were mainly portrayed.
Style: It is a contemporary style, almost European-inspired miniature painting. The sharpness with which the human characters are painted is in juxtaposition with the soft and lush manner of portraying their clothes. The facial features the human characters possess are sharp and elongated noses, pointed and thin brows, oval almost round faces, and almond-shaped eyes.
Central motifs: The delineation of verdant trees, mountain ranges, animals, and scarce architecture is of utmost importance. The themes resonating with the motifs were stories of hunting that was popular amongst other religious themes.
To contribute towards the conversation and awareness of this dying art form, INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) organised an exhibition somewhere in 2021, in which they created a platform where Kota Kalam artists could display and market their paintings.