Portfolio  - Manuscript Painting of Assam

Portfolio - Manuscript Painting of Assam

Product ID: 16966

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Author: R D Choudhury
Tejbir Singh/
Photographer: Tejbir Singh
Publisher: National Museum
Year: 2000
Language: English
Pages: 20
ISBN/UPC (if available): N/A


The art of painting that flourished in Assam from 16th Century onwards, with the rise of Neo-Vaisnavism under the great Vaisnava saint Sankaradeva, is not known widely to the art historians of the country. However, the paintings which are depicted as illustrations in old manuscripts have all the qualities to occupy an important place in the art history of India.

The tradition of painting in Assam dates back to seventh century A D. The Harsa-Carita of Banabhatta informs that king Bhaskaravarman of Kamarupa, an ally of emperor Harsavardhana of Kannauj, sent presentations of painted cloth, smooth as birch-bark, with the patterns of Jasmine flower, drinking vessels, embossed by skilled artists, covered books with panels for painting with brushes, etc. the legend of Usha-Anirudha-Chitralekha is very popular in Assam. We have also some inscriptional references pertaining to the practice of paintings in the pre-Ahom period in Assam. The tradition of the painting was continued in the later period also.

The Assamese paintings have no stylistic relation with those of Pala paintings or with Orissan paintings. Nor has it any affinity with the folk paints of Madhubani of Bihar. Some elements, though from Rajasthani, Mughal and Pahari can be seen in them, they are profoundly controlled by the local traits which relegate these high styles in the background are submerged by the local style. By observing certain special features, in terms of gestures, household objects, utensils, such as, sarai (decorated dish on stand) with lid or without lid, architectural style of house or buildings, costumes, flora, fauna, abstractness in depiction, the unusual themes taken for illustration, and the size of the manuscript, we can safely attribute the status of a separate school of the Assamese paintings in the panorama of Indian manuscript painting tradition.



1. Chitrabhagavat
2. Geeta Govinda
3. Ananda Lahari
4. Kumar Haran
5. Adhyatma-Ramayana
6. Bhagavat
7. Anadipatan
8. Kumar Haran
9. Lava Kushar Yuddha
10. Mahabharat
11. Synamanta Haran
12. Parijat Haran
13. Suk-Tan-Ta-Kyem-Pong
14. Kirtan