Painting on silk instead of canvas has a long history in India. This art, which flourished during 17th-19th century under the
rule, is mostly practiced in Rajasthan
. The images usually consist of court life, scenes from epics and religious themes. Most often these paintings portray beautiful women. An enhanced effect is produced by using gold and gemstone powder. Bright and glowing colors further add to its richness.
Color applied on plain silk spreads easily. It therefore undergoes special treatment before the painting is done. Silk is washed and treated with ‘Gutta’ (water-based resist) or stop-flow primer to prevent the spread. The treated silk is stretched over a frame. The painting is done using tools like paint brush, mist sprayer and eye dropper. Various effects are given by lightly spraying water, sprinkling salt or applying alcohol on the wet paint.
Silk paintings are mainly used for home décor. Famous works like Miniature paintings and ‘ragmalas’ (melody garland) are done on silk.