Bhitti Chitra Kala from Bikaner, Rajathan

Bhitti Chitra Kala from Bikaner, Rajathan

Bhitti Chitra Kala was practiced by the Matheran or Mahatma community who were renowned for their mineral painted elaborate depictions of religious themes on painstakingly prepared walls of houses and temples.

Traditionally, colours like geru, jahri black, safed and neel are used to prepare the paintings. These colours are cooked with ’tisi oil’ to get permanent water proof colours

In some of the temples thus ornamented, images of the patrons and their families were also included as were the names of the painters. The paintings of the Matherans also utilize the embossing techniques of the Usta; thus gold and silver is occasionally used to enhance a painting. In older temples such as the Madan Mohan Mandir, the 200-year-old paintings reveal the aesthetic sensibilities of this community and the religious context of their work in spite of layers that were later retouched.

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Today the Matherans reside in Jodhpur, Mewar and Godvard (in Pali district) and are known for their skills in painting Gangaur idols.
The mythological paintings depicting stories from Durga Shaptshati, Ramayan, Samudramanthan and Dashavtar were painted on the walls of ashrams and temples. The elite class painted their bungalows and havelis with designs inspiring nature. The third category falls under ceremonial occasions like festivals, marriages, and happier occasions, when people painted the walls with traditional pictures of Lord Ganesha, gwalin, elephant, horses, parrot and peacock.

Frescoed walls at the Madan Mohan
 Mandir in Bikaner depict the many patrons of the temple; the composition simulates the manner in which members of court and the royalty are depicted in Rajasthani miniatures while also displaying a tangible western influence in the use of perspective devices and portrait-like rendering of the patrons’ faces