Unlike murals, miniatures developed later on. They, unlike murals, were on small scale. They were not only small in scale, but were also more detailed in their execution. Often fine brushes are used which include even a single hair as brush. They started to develop in 9th century in western and eastern India. Most of the later miniatures are two dimensional in their form and side view is taken in these and often eyes are bulging, waists are slim and nose is pointed.
I. Pala school of Bengal was one of the pioneers in miniature paintings since 9th-11th century and Nalanda, Vikramshila, Odantpuri etc were important centers. They were later highly influenced by Vajryayan Buddhism as well. Colors were symbolic and with subdued lines. However, these were not true miniature and were largely a compact form of murals. They resemble the Ajanta style, but on a miniature scale. In this category, Buddhist, Jain and Hindu manuscripts were illustrated, on palm leaves. These were made on the request of the merchants, who donated them to the temples and monasteries. They were generally made on palm or paper manuscripts which were also carried to other countries by the students who studied in these monasteries. The 10th century illustrated Buddhist text, Prajnaparamita, is the earliest known example of painting where a canvas of micro, or miniature size made its debut. Nature is marked by its absence and only a few trees like banana and coconut are found. After Pala kingdom and the universities were ravaged by Muslim invaders, the artists also fled to other places like Nepal and in the course of time, this school also influenced art schools in Tibet and Nepal as well.
II. Apbhramsa School of miniature developed in west parallel to Pala and Sena School in Eastern India in 10th century. Earlier, they were made on palm, but later on paper. Their uniqueness lied in angular faces of the objects, pointed noses, protruded eyesetc. Their themes were taken from Jainism, Gita Govinda and secular love. Their features included fish shaped eyes, double chin, side view, use of bright colors etc. Animals and birds are represented as toys. This school later also influenced Rajasthan miniatures as well.
III. In Western India, during the early sultanate period, significant contribution to the art of painting was made by the Jain communities. Illustrated manuscripts of Jain scriptures were presented to temple libraries. These manuscripts depicted the lives and deeds of the Tirthankars.
IV. Golden period for miniature paintings was the 16th century when various schools of paintings were provided patronage by the Mughals, rulers of Deccan and Malwa, and Hindu chieftains of Rajasthan. This led to the development of important schools of paintings such as Mughal, Rajput and Deccan schools.
V. Mughal Paintings were next to make a mark. They had a considerable Persian influence, but later developed their own style. Unlike Persian miniature, Mughal miniatures were more lifelike. Realism is, thus, a unique feature of Mughal paintings and they depicted natural life as well, though subjects were largely from court life. They found expressions in books like – Hamzanama, Razmanama, Akbarnama etc. Under Jahangir, portrain paintings gained prominence. Jahangir is known to have focused on specialization and study of nature.
VI. Decline of Mughal empire lead to emergence of Pahari and Rajasthani School of paintings.
VII. There were also other schools of miniature paintings like – Mysore miniature, Deccan miniature which developed parallel to Mughal miniature.
Some of the painters also tried to paint the classical ragas, thereby giving form and color to such abstract conceptions as music in form of ragmala paintings. Seasons or baramasa paintings were similarly given artistic forms. Nowhere else in the world except perhaps in China, artists have tried to paint music or seasons.

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