The art of silk painting can be traced back to 2nd century AD in China. The art of applying coloured pigment to silk cloth emerged from China about 2000 years ago. This art evolved when silk was considered the best canvas for painting as it was lighter than bamboo, stone or wood. The graceful silk paintings are decorated with ethnic motifs, distinctive textures painted with distinctive vibrant colours. These paintings are made by decorating the silk cloth with soft and smooth strokes of brush painting the cloth in beautiful colours.
Silk paintings came forward during the use of wax resistant technology for decorating silk. Being evolved in China, silk painting became popular in India during 17th-19th century under Mughal rule. This art was famous in Rajasthan in portraits and paintings and other decorative articles. The most common themes of these paintings were quite simple like flowers, animals and birds which further varied to landscapes, different patterns, mythological figures and cultural paintings.
These paintings usually depict beautiful women which are decorated with gemstones and gold powder to make it look even more sophisticated. The quality of the painting largely depends upon the quality of silk used, the better the quality of silk the more beautifully painting and colours will stand out. The silk usually used for painting are Silk gauze, Silk dupioni, Silk Habotai, Raw silk, Flat crepe, Silk twill, Silk organza, Silk chiffon, Crepe back suit satin, Decor satin, Crepe de chine and Silk velvet.
Apart from painting, different effects and patterns can be produced by using certain techniques. Paints or dyes are applied using eye dropper, mist sprayer and other tools to create water like effect. In order to create appealing textural effects, various sizes of salts are sprinkled on damp silk and then brushed off when try to yield different patterns.
Silk painting is very popular in India and adorned by everyone. However, this art of painting has made progressed over the years and is widely used on scarves, bandanas, cloth and nightwear. Portraits, sheets, curtains, wall hangings are also gaining popularity in this art.