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Detail of a folio from the Guler Gita Govinda series, ca. 1780

The Language of Guler/Kangra Painting: Introduction to Idealised Figuration

Start Date.


End Date.



10:30 - 17:30


Dr Susana Marín

This course, The Language of Guler/Kangra Painting, will focus on the stylization of the human figure in Pahari painting.

Participants will study iconic representations of Krishna and Radha, one of the central themes in painting of the region. They will also look at râginis and nâyikas, archetypes of feminine beauty as seen through the lens of Guler/Kangra painting. Students will freehand draw their figures and design their own compositions.

Pahari painting means ‘painting from the hills’, and comes from the mountainous regions of northern India. Its rulers were descendants from Hindu dynasties who had taken refuge in the hills after the Muslim invasions after 1193. Before the 17th century, the painting style was similar to the early Rajput style. They illustrated traditional Hindu texts such as the Ramayana, in highly stylised and non-naturalistic ways, against abstract landscapes and architecture. The spread of Vaishnavism (particularly the devotional worship of Krishna), led to a popularity in depicting scenes from the Bhagavata Purana and Gita Govinda.

In the 18th century, Mughal power was in decline, and artists sought new sources of patronage. Some travelled to the courts in the hills, and as a result this movement began to develop the style of Pahari painting. It began to assimilate the more naturalistic elements of Mughal painting. Guler artists Pandit Seu and his sons Manaku and Nainsukh, are particularly well-known artists of this period and region.

This course is part of the Bagri Foundation Open Programme at The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts which aims to expand the Asian arts courses at The School.

Dr Susana Marín

Dr Marin learnt the art of Kangra painting in India with masters of Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. Her PhD from The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts explored Pahari painting as a living tradition through analysis of how it is presently understood, practiced, and transmitted. Her research contributes to current scholarship on Pahari painting recording the knowledge of living masters, and her own artwork is a contribution to current efforts to keep Guler and Kangra painting alive.

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