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Malwa miniature


Etymology: Since this art form developed in and around the Malwa region, these miniatures came to be known as Malwa Miniatures. 

Origin: The Malwa school of miniatures spread throughout many districts of Central India. Malwa itself is spread between two states, the western part of Madhya Pradesh and the southeastern part of Rajasthan. 

Location: Malwa miniatures spanned numerous districts in Central India, with traces of these miniatures discovered in places such as Mandu, Nusratgarh, and Narsyang Sahar. Additionally, these paintings can also be associated with the Bundelkhand region, as many Malwani miniatures were unearthed from the Datia Palace located in Madhya Pradesh.

Relevance: The Malwa miniatures exceedingly represent the Hindu Rajput courts.


Significance: The Malwa region is a blend of various cultures for two main reasons. Firstly, it extends across multiple districts between Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Secondly, this province has been under the rule of various dynasties and empires, including the Avanti kingdom, Mauryans, Malavas, Guptas, Paramaras, Delhi Sultanate, Mughals, Marathas, and ultimately, the British.

Culture and Societies: The Malwa region is primarily influenced by Rajasthani culture and to a lesser extent by Marathi culture. They have traditional music called ‘Lavani’ and a dance known as ‘Sawag.’ They also practice ‘Mandana,’ a folk art of painting walls and floors.

Religious Significance: Some of the Malwa illustrations are found on manuscripts as well. Malwa’s artistic influence can also be observed in two other Central Indian art styles, with Orchha-Ditya being particularly prominent in Raghodah. The subjects of Malwa miniature paintings include themes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Devi Mata, Risikpriya, Lokchandrayana, Barhamasa, and Ragamala.

Understanding the Art

Style: These miniatures are two-dimensional paintings with simplistic representations of human and animal forms. Features such as large protruding eyes and angular facial features are seen in these paintings. Dense lush greenery, sparse depiction of animals, and minimal architecture are the general aesthetic that these miniatures adhere to. Sometimes the header of the painting is adorned with sombre calligraphy, whereas the borders are often either boldly painted with a block colour or are seen decorated with vines and other flora.

Central motifs: The distinctive portrayal of Indo-Islamic architecture lends these miniatures their uniqueness and gives them structure and composition. These miniatures also feature depictions of animals and birds, including peacocks and deer, as well as characters from the Ramayana.

Malwa Miniatures

Image Courtesy: Sahapedia

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The majority of these paintings are showcased at The National Museum in Delhi, while ninety-one illustrations from the Amru-Shataka are on display at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in Mumbai.

Malwa Minuature blogs