Details, Details

The desire to record things in the world was a relatively new phenomenon that the Mughals introduced to Indian painting.  The Mughals also fostered an interest in naturalistic depiction, encouraging painters to depict the world as it appears, rather than maintaining the abstract and idealized styles of Indian and Persian painting.

Attention to detail was evident in the practices artists employed to create these miniature masterpieces.   Colors derived from mineral pigments were ground in a mortar. Some colors were obtained from insects, others from precious metals. The bright yellow was produced from the urine of cows fed on mango leaves. Brushes were made from bird quills with hairs from the tails of squirrels or kittens.

Sometimes artists added gold, and then impressed the gold with small indentations that reflect the light when looked at from different angles. Some artists specialized in the overall composition. Some specialized in faces, others in applying colors. The whole composition was burnished with polished crystal resulting in a smooth, finished surface.

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