Vignettes of Mathura's divine art form

Gods on canvas

Vignettes of Mathura's divine art form

Tourists on a visit to Braj Bhoomi of Mathura and Vrindavan can get close, splendid views of a plethora of fascinating shrines devoted to Radha and Lord Krishna. The revered land of Mathura and Vrindavan have been attracting pilgrims since ages, but there are attractions to behold for art buffs too — the Mathura School of Paintings. 

If one takes a dig into the pages of history, then one comes across the fact that Mathura School of Art flourished during the Kushan period dating back prior to 500 AD. This famed school of art reached the zenith of its glory during the reign of Kanishka. A separate school of sculptures made headway depicting varied themes of Hindu pantheons. The images of Jain Tirthankaras and Hindu deities were common along with the addition of wall paintings. 

The Mathura School of Art progressed at the site of Gita Mandir on the banks of River Yamuna in the outskirts of Mathura. It was at Gita Mandir that the Mathura School of Art ruled the roost for a long period of 1,200 years. This kind of art focusses on Bhakti cult and was a reflection of the happy blend of Indian, Iranian and Greek arts. The impressive art works travelled to China and South-East Asian destinations of Thailand, Singapore and Myanmar in the hoary past.

In the globalised era, this form of wall hangings in Braj Bhoomi offers glimpses of art from the Vedic and Aryan period. These days, around 1,000 craftsmen are involved in making wall hangings at Holi gate and Chowk Bazaar in the pilgrim town of Mathura. It takes around one hour to paint the gods and goddesses on black velvet clothes for the artists.

All wall hangings have the gods and goddesses in highly embellished form, marking the highpoints of the Mathura School of Paintings. Once the brush work is over, the figures are adorned with colourful stars and mica pieces to make them attractive. 

These wall hangings delve on religious themes and mostly revolve around Radha and Lord Krishna seated on a swing, Lord Krishna playing flute along with Radha and Gopis, Lord Krishna with herds of cattle, Goddess Saraswati, Vaishno Devi and Lord Vishnu. One of the most brilliant art works of Mathura School of Paintings is Goddess Lakshmi in the midst of lotus flowers. In fact, this kind of wall painting suggests that a blissful society existed in India during Aryan times.

At Vrindavan’s Gopinath Bazaar, shoppers are spoilt for choice with many wall hangings on display, that would not burn a hole in your pocket. These art works begin at Rs 100 and depending upon the length and the kind of workmanship involved, prices go up.

Those interested in this art form can have their heart’s fill by visiting Mathura, Barsana, Govardhan and Nandgaon in Braj Bhoomi. These places open windows of opportunities to art lovers to learn about the renowned Mathura School of Art. 

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