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6 LIMBS OF INDIAN

ART: SHADANGA
INTRODUCTION FROM EARLIEST
PAINTINGS TO 1 CENTURY B.C.
◦ Indian paintings are indisputably India’s pride. Their remarkable history holds treasures for
people to appreciate and adore.
◦ Some of the earliest Indian paintings are done in the form of Parietal art or rock painting
which can be seen in places like Bhimbetka.
◦ Apart from this, one cannot deny the mesmerism that is present in the paintings of
Ajanta and Ellora Caves that were created by Buddhist Monks. These are generally
considered to be from 5500 BC. The art that now ornaments every place, walls of homes
and offices was previously ignored as primitive form of expression.
◦ After the 20th century, some great scholars like Arabindranath Tagore
and other began their research and brought a new art style in
practice which was influenced by Indian art form. This art form
praised the value of Indian folk paintings.
◦ In the 1st century BC, India art was introduced to the six prime
principles of the art, known as ‘Shadanga’ or the ‘Six Limbs’ of
painting. These limbs were actually six different points which
emphasized what all artists needed to infuse in their artworks to
achieve greater effect and appeal. Let’s explore more about the ‘Six
limbs’ in the form of a shloka that have modified Indian art all these
years.

◦ “Roopabhedahpramananibhava-Lavanya-yojanam |
◦ Sadrishyam varnakabhangam iti chitram shadakam ||”
Rupa-bheda(multiplicity of form):
◦ Rupa is a Hindi word which means ‘beauty’ or ‘form’whereas
Bheda is a word of Sanskrit origin which mean ‘distinction’ or
‘difference’. Rupa-bheda basically imparts knowledge about
understanding the special characteristics of things –living or non-
living; say, the differences in appearances of subjects of the
painting. The study and practice of Rupa-bhedaenable us to see
and depicts things as they are and as they appear visually.
◦ As Indian Paintings entails a number of themes, like ancient
tradition, culture, and heritage, it becomes crucial to
understand- How to depict the subject of the painting in its true
form? And, this can be done by analyzing the forms given to us
by our five senses, our soul, and mind.
Pramanam(proportion):
◦ Pramāṇa is the word derived from the Sanskrit root,
which means acquiring true knowledge. With
reference to Indian philosophy, it is something by
which one can obtain accurate or near accurate
knowledge about the world. In the field of Art,
Pramana assists us to recognize significant aspects of
a painting. It also helps us to find the true subject of
the painting whereas, for the artist, it’s a way to bring
out the accurate perception, measure, and structure
in the painting. Parmana provides a means to
maintain a balance within the figure and also in its
relation to other figures; and to the painting as a
whole
Bhava(Disposition of feelings):
◦ Many Indian paintings depict human figures where
their facial expressions play a significant role.
Bhava is a technique which helps an artist to
understand and paint the exact facial expressions
or state of mind, which is translated as feeling,
emotion or devotion as the artist create emotional
energies through paintings. It won’t be an
exaggeration to say that Bhava gives meanings to
Indian paintings by giving them an expression of
character which fulfills the meaning of the painting.
Lavanya-Yojanam(Grace in Art):
◦ Lanvanya-Yojanam is the word with
Sanskrit origin, which means ways to
infuse grace in the piece of art. It
adds a touch of panache to
upsurge the beauty of Indian
paintings. It not only enhances the
beauty of the character but also
adds grace to the environment.
Lanvanya-Yojanam enables artists
to showcase the beauty that can
be rendered and felt in the
appearance of their work.
Sadrishyam(Similitude):
◦ Sadrishyam means the recognition of an actual form and creating it exactly same or similar
to the real form or idea, i.e. a peacock painting should look like a painting of a peacock,
and not like that of any other bird or animal.
◦ This is perhaps the most challenging task of creating a painting. Sadrisyam suggests the
degree to which a depiction is similar to an artist’s vision or the subject itself. In a way, it is also
a way of depicting similitude.
◦ Why do poets often compare a woman’s locks of hair with a snake? Why is a beautiful girl
called ‘moon-faced’? Why are her lips like rose petals and eyes like those of a deer? Well,
THIS is similitude in a literal sense. Of course, artists cannot draw snakes instead of a lady’s
tresses or a moon instead of her face. The delineation must come from their artistic way of
painting.
Varnikabhanga(Color Scheme):
◦ It’s a technique that had been
practiced by the artisans for ages.
It tells them the right artistic manner
of using the brush and colors as
they lend soul to mesmerizing
Indian paintings. In the hands of a
prominent artist, even ordinary
colors pronounce extraordinary
exuberance because beauty is not
in the colors; it’s because of the
way they are used in the painting
WRAP UP
◦The Sadanga is an inevitable part of every great
Indian masterpiece. From the ancient paintings
of Ajanta to those created by Raja Ravi Verma,
and Hussain of today, you will observe that every
notable artist has silently put to use all the six
principles. And, it is only when you have known
inside out, these prime principles, can you
become an artist in every true sense.