Decanni School of Painting

Early centres of painting in the Deccan, during the 16th and 17th centuries were Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golconda. In the Deccan, painting continued to develop independently of the Mughal style in the beginning. However, later in the 17th and 18th centuries it was increasingly influenced by the Mughal style.

Some of the features of this school of painting are:

  • Its unique sensuality and intense colours have a strong affinity to regional aesthetics.
  • The school preferred dense composition and attempted to create an aura of romance, which invariably expressed itself in an idiom that was eloquently natural and vivid.
  • A style of painting characterised by bold drawing, techniques of shading and the use of pure and brilliant colours flourished at Tanjore in South India during the late 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Gold colour has been lavishly used in painting
  • Deccani costumes were richly depicted in this school of art


Sub-schools in the Deccani school of painting


  • The earliest examples of the Ahmednagar painting are contained in a volume of poems written in praise of Hussain Nizam Shah I of Ahmednagar (1553-1565) and his queen
  • This manuscript known as the ‘Tarif-in-Hussain Shahiand assigned to a period 1565-69 is preserved in the Bharat ltihas Samshodaka Mandala, Poona
  • Some other fine examples of the Ahmednagar painting are the “Hindola Raga” of about 1590 A.D. and portraits of Burhan Nizam Shah II of Ahmednagar (1591-96 A.D.) and of Malik Amber of about 1605 A.D. existing in the National Museum, New Delhi and other museums.


  • In Bijapur, painting was patronized by Ali Adil Shah I and his successor Ibrahim II
  • An encyclopedia known as the Najum-al-ulum (Stars of Sciences), preserved in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, was illustrated in 1570 A.D. in the reign of Ali Adil Shah I. This manuscript contains 876 miniatures
  • The ladies appearing in the illustrations are tall and slender and are wearing the South Indian dress.
  • The rich colour scheme, the palm trees, animals and men and women all belong, to the Deccani tradition. The profuse use of gold colour, some flowering plants and arabesques on the top of the throne are derived from the Persian tradition.

Indian Paintings

Figure: Prince of Bijapur, Deccani School of painting


  • The earliest paintings identified as Golconda work are a group of five charming paintings of about 1590 A.D. in the British Museum, London, painted in the period of Muhammad Quli Quta Shah (1580-1611) Golconda.
  • They show dancing girls entertaining the company.
  • Other outstanding examples of the Golconda painting are “Lady with the Myna bird”, about 1605 A.D.
  • This school of painting absorbed influences of the northern tradition of the pre-Mughal painting which was flourishing in Malwa, and of the southern tradition of the Vijayanagar murals as evident in the treatment of female types and costumes. Influence of the Persian painting is also observed in the treatment of the horizon gold sky and landscape. The colours are rich and brilliant and are different from those of the northern painting.

Indian Paintings

Figure: A painting in the Golconda style


  • Painting in Hyderabad started with the foundation of the Asafjhi dynasty by Mir Qamruddin Khan
  • The style of the painting is decorative.
  • Typical characteristics of the Hyderabad painting like the rich colours, the Deccani facial types and costumes can be observed in the miniature. It belongs to the third quarter of the 18th century.


  • A style of painting characterised by bold drawing, techniques of shading and the use of pure and brilliant colours flourished at Tanjore in South India during the late 18th and 19th centuries
  • The dense composition, surface richness and vibrant colors of Indian Thanjavur Paintings distinguish them from the other types of paintings.
  • Then, there are embellishments of semi-precious stones, pearls and glass pieces that further add to their appeal. The relief work gives them a three dimensional effect. Tanjore Painting of India originated during the 16th century
  • Maratha princes, Nayakas, Rajus communities of Tanjore and Trichi and Naidus of Madurai also patronized Indian Thanjavur Paintings from 16th to 18th century.
  • Most of these paintings revolve around the theme of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, along with saints.
  • The main figure is always painted at the center of the painting. Since Tanjore paintings are mainly done on solid wood planks, they are locally known as ‘Palagai Padam’ (palagai meaning wooden plank and padam meaning picture).

Indian Paintings

Figure: An example of Tanjore School of painting