Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Narrative Art Main Page

Painting & Composition Types

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Narrative Art Description (below)
- Narrative Art Subjects
---- Jātaka Stories
---- Avadāna Stories
---- History of Tibet
---- Nepalese Narrative Scrolls
---- Life Story Paintings
- Central Main Figure
- No Main Figure
- Single Composition
- Set of Compositions
- Mural Wall (continuous narrative)
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Video: Narrative Art

Narrative art is art primarily intended to tell or convey one or more stories. The earliest narrative depictions in Himalayan art were the Jataka and Avadana stories based on the life of Shakyamuni Buddha. From the 16th century onwards biographical art (life story) became very popular either depicted in a single composition or the life-story spread over several compositions. The early 18th century depiction of the life-story of Je Tsongkapa has a total of fifteen paintings making up the complete story and artistic composition. The 19th century depictions of the Milarepa life story comprise nineteen paintings.

Narrative art can overlap with other types of compositions and subjects such as with diagrammatic art as seen in the Wheel of Life paintings and Cityscape art where small narrative vignettes can be included.

Jeff Watt [updated 6-2016, 9-2017]

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).