Context: The Union Ministry of Culture has recently launched the Life in Miniature project.

About the project: 

  • It is a collaboration between the National Museum, New Delhi, Ministry of Culture, and Google Arts & Culture today.
  • Objective: The project will enable online viewing of several hundred miniature paintings (like the Ramayana, Royal Saga, Pahari style paintings) from the National Museum, New Delhi on Google Arts & Culture by people around the world.
  • The project uses technologies like machine learning, augmented reality and digitization with high-definition robotic cameras, to showcase these special works of art in a magical new way.
  • The project emphasizes upon the importance of the Digital India initiative and the role of technology in the preservation of India’s heritage.


About Miniature Painting

  • As the name suggests, miniature paintings are colorful handmade paintings very small in size
  • One of the outstanding features of these paintings is the intricate brushwork which contributes to their unique identity.

History of Miniature Paintings

  • Miniature paintings originated in India around 750 A.D when the Palas ruled over the eastern part of India.
  • Since religious teachings of the Buddha, accompanied by his images, were written on palm leaves, these paintings became popular. 
  • With the rise of the Mughal Empire, miniature paintings started growing on a level unknown before.

Schools of Paintings

Pala School    

  • The earliest Indian miniature paintings are related to the Pala School dating back to the 8th century A.D. 
  • This school of painting emphasized on the symbolic use of colors and the themes were often taken from the Buddhist tantric rituals.

Orissa School

  • The Orissa School of miniature painting came into existence during the 17th century A.D. 
  • Most of the paintings depicted the love stories of Radha and Krishna and also stories from ‘Krishna Leela’ and ‘Gita Govinda’.

Jain School

One of the earliest schools of miniature paintings in India, the Jain School of painting gained prominence in the 11th century A.D when religious texts like ‘Kalpa Sutra’ and ‘Kalkacharya Katha’ were portrayed in the form of miniature paintings.

Mughal School

  • The amalgamation of Indian paintings and Persian miniature paintings gave rise to the Mughal School of miniature painting. 
  • The Mughal style of painting flourished from 16th to 18th centuries, especially under the reign of Akbar. 
  • Scenes from the royal court, hunting expeditions, wildlife and battles were often displayed through these paintings. 
  • While Humayun and Jahangir encouraged paintings that portrayed events from their respective life, in Shah Jahan’s reign painters began giving importance to portraiture. 

Rajasthani School      

  • The decline of the Mughal miniature paintings resulted in the rise of the Rajasthani School. 
  • Rajasthani School of painting can be further divided into various schools depending on the region they were created in - The Mewar School, Marwar School, Hadoti School, Dhundar School, Kangra and Kullu Schools of art are all part of Rajasthani School of painting. 
  • Like the Mughal Emperors, the Rajput rulers were also lovers of art and gave their patronage to miniature paintings. 

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Pahari School

  • Pahari School of miniature painting emerged in the 17th century A.D. 
  • These paintings originated in the kingdoms of North India, in the Himalayan region. 
  • Influenced by the Mughal School and the Rajasthani School of miniature paintings, the Pahari style of paintings flourished in the Jammu and Garhwal regions from the 17th to 19th centuries. 

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Deccan School 

  • The Deccan School of miniature painting flourished in places like Ahmednagar, Golconda, Tanjore, Hyderabad and Bijapur from the 16th to 19th century A.D. 
  • The Deccan School of miniature painting was largely influenced by the rich traditions of the Deccan and the religious beliefs of Turkey, Persia and Iran. 
  • These paintings are different from that of their Mughal counterpart.


The National Museum, New Delhi: It is the premiere cultural institution of the Nation under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.  

Google Arts & Culture: Google Arts & Culture puts the collections of more than 2,000 museums at one’s fingertips. It’s an immersive way to explore art, history and the wonders of the world. 

Image Source: Shop Gaatha