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Sikh Illustrated Manuscripts

Sunday, June 07th, 2009 | Author:

sikh-paintingsContinuing the series of illustrated manuscripts, this time we will be talking about Sikh illustrated manuscripts. Sikhism has made a great contribution in the evolution f rich Indian culture. Illustrated manuscripts of Sikhism has been demarcated in three ways; Nisans, Illumination and illustrated manuscripts. Nisans refer to earliest sikh manuscripts. These were mainly written by hand of a Guru. The handwriting of Guru was used to enhance the sacredness of the manuscripts. The foremost proof of this type of manuscript is Adi Granth and several other manuscripts of that era. The handwriting was used on the folios. The couplets of Adi Granth were included in the folios before mentioning Japu. The later term refers to first composition of the Adi Granth text.  



The era of Nisans begins with 17th century. The color combination was blue and gold geometric pattern which later on gave way to blue, gold and yellow. The second type was illuminated manuscripts that were in vogue from 17th century to 19th century. Also known as belbuta or minakari, the illuminated changed shape during 18th century when indic pothic form was introduced. The decoration used was in floral and vine style. Many parts of northern India including Jammu, Punjab, Patna, Malwa and even Pakistan have been found to have illuminated manuscripts.


The famous illuminated manuscripts include Bano recension and Damdami, both having historical importance. Last in the sequence were illustrated manuscripts. First made visible during 19th century, these manuscripts have been found in many parts of northern India. Kashmiri style execution has been found in the manuscripts with several depictions of ten Sikh gurus and other Indian gods and goddesses. The tradition of all the three types of manuscripts started to decline at the end of the 19th century. The reasons include arrival of new technologies and decreasing number of artists.


Historical Medieval Manuscripts

Saturday, June 06th, 2009 | Author:

One of the basic trait as well as strength shown by India was its willingness and inclination towards accepting multiple ethnic groups. Think about Arabs, Afghans, Aryans, Persians and you will find they all have been incorporated in Indian culture. The result was a truly ethnic and diverse country where each region has its own culture and yet as a combined whole, Indian thrives and shines. All the different cultures in India brought their own art and culture. Few of them particularly, Mughals were great patrons of art and literature. Mughals promoted arts in all forms and Hindu, Muslim as well as Persian artists thrived during Mughals reign.


Talking about Medieval manuscripts, Mughals produced illustrated manuscripts that were wonderfully calligraphed. Two of the best known manuscripts of the era were Akbarnama and Baburnama. Akbarnama as the name suggests is an illustrated manuscript of the life of Emperor Akbar. It is a wonderful chronicle of the history of Mughal Empire and the great events of the era. Written by Abul Fazl, the book has several paintings in typical miniature style. Baburnama gives us an insight of first Mughal emperor Zahiruddin Mohammad Babur. One of the most unique manuscripts, it is also termed as first real autobiography in Islamic literature.


The books is revealing in not only political and military sense but also talks about agriculture, hunting, flora and fauna. The illustrations were done in Persian miniature style. European culture also produced wonderful illustrated manuscripts during medieval era. Numerous manuscripts of the European era gave historians an insight into subjects as diverse as theology, music, poetry and architecture. The illustrated manuscripts of medieval era are no less than treasure trove of information about cultural, political and economical aspects.