Pala School


  • The earliest examples of miniature painting in India exist in the form of illustrations to the religious texts on Buddhism executed under the Palas of the eastern India and the Jain texts executed in western India during the 11th-12th centuries A.D.
  • A large number of manuscripts on palm-leaf relating to the Buddhist themes were written and illustrated with the images of Buddhist deities at centres such as- Nalanda, Odantapuri,Vikramsila and Somarupa
  • Students and pilgrims from all over South-East Asia gathered there for education and religious instruction. They took back to their countries examples of Pala Buddhist art, in the form of bronzes and manuscripts which helped to carry the Pala style to Nepal, Tibet, Burma, Sri Lanka and Java etc.
  • The surviving examples of the Pala illustrated manuscripts mostly belong to the Vajrayana School of Buddhism.
  • Pala painting shows a naturalistic style and is characterised by sinuous lines and subdued tones of colour.
  • One of the finest examples is the manuscript of the Astasahasrika Prajnaparamitaor the perfection of Wisdom written in eight thousand lines, housed in Oxford, England.
  • The Pala art came to a sudden end after the destruction of the Buddhist monasteries at the hands of Muslim invaders in the first half of the 13th century. Some of the monks and artists escaped and fled to Nepal, which helped in reinforcing the existing art traditions there.
  • Colors were used in this form of painting which had symbolic meanings

Indian Paintings

Figure: An example of miniature painting from Pala School of art