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Padma: Lotus. An aquatic plant of the genii Nymphaca lotus or Nelumba. In ancient Egyptian and Indian art the flower is on the capital of columns. 

Padmapani:  One who holds the lotus in his hand. A name of a lesser Buddha (Bodhisattva). 

Padmapitha: Lotus pedestal. Deities are depicted seated on lotus-shaped pedestals. 

Padmasana: Lotus position. A Yoga position in which the left foot is intertwined with the right thigh and the right foot over the left thigh. 

Paint: Types of paint include tempera, watercolour, oil paint, gouache, enamel. Pigment which is dispersed into a liquid. 

Painting: Works of art made with paint on a surface. 

Palette: Tray usually oval or kidney shaped on which paints are mixed. 

Palette Knife: A sharp instrument to scrape off unwanted remains of paint from the palette and make space for new ones. 

Panchayatana: The arrangement of five sanctuaries in a square. Four temples placed at four corners while one is put in the middle. 

Panel Painting: Term for painting on a mobile support, in distinction to murals. 

Pantograph: A copying instrument. 

Parchment: Sheep, goat or calf skin prepared for writing and drawing. 

Parvati: Shiva’s wife or consort. 

Pasteboard: A thick board made from pure white rag pulp. 

Pastel: Painting medium consisting of powdered pigment mixed with just enough gum to bind it; usually molded into sticks. 

Pastel Paper: A tinted velvet-type paper. 

Pati: Lord. Husband. 

Patina: An artificial deoxidizing process. It helps the metal to stay intact in fluctuating weather conditions. It also gives a sculpture colours and helps it to take on textural elements. 

Performance: A contemporary form of action-based art from the mid 70s onwards. 

Perspective: Representation of an object, a person or a space on a picture surface creating the impression of spatial depth with the devices of drawing and painting. 

Photomontage: Photographs or printed material assembled into a collage. 

Photorealism: A counter movement introduced in the 60s against abstract painting. The photorealists made figurative paintings typified by an extremely sharp focus and precision at representation. 

Pieta: Representation of grieving Mary with the body of Christ. 

Pigment: A coloring matter, paint or dye. 

Pittura Metafisica: Italian trend, founded in 1911-1915 by G. Chirico, with a philosophical background. 

Plaster: Mixture of lime, sand etc. 

Plaster of Paris: Also known as plaster, it can be mixed with water, hardening to a smooth solid which does not shrink or lose volume, because it hardens before all the water can evaporate. A common building material as well as a versatile medium in sculpture. A kind of plaster that is popularly used for carving and making casts. It is made up of dehydrated gypsum and is mixed with water.  

Plastic Art: Concerned with moulding or modelling. In sculpture it relates to three-dimensional form or space. 

Plasticity: the capability of being moulded, receiving shape, or being made to assume a desired form; the quality or state of being plastic. 

Plastic Rubber: An eraser made from the mixture of clay and Vaseline. 

Plein Air Painting: Working in open air and not in a studio. 

Pointillisme: Late impressionist stylistic movement which juxtaposes colors in little brushstrokes. 

Pop Art: Art movement started in America in the 60s which, through the use of already existing objects (newspaper articles, pamphlets), created new worlds oriented towards the consumer society. 

Portrait: Representation of a person. A work of art that represents a specific person, a group of people or an animal. 

Post Impressionism: All the artistic trends which stressed the intrinsic value of color. 

Postmodernism: Term taken for architecture, for the prevailing artistic attitude since the early 1980s. 

Prajnaparamita: In Buddhist lore she is the symbol of perfect wisdom. 

Prakriti: The feminine principle or creative energy in nature that is active and immanent. It is the counterpart of Purusha or the male principle. 

Prana: Life force, vital energy. 

Pre-Raphaelites: English association of artists which formed around D. C. Rossetti in 1848. 

Primary Color: The colors red, yellow and blue. All other colors are produced by mixing primary colors. 

Primitivism: Trend in the art of 20th century to turn towards folk art or the art of Africa or Oceania. 

Proportion: The ratio between individual elements within a painting. 

Punic Wax: A type of wax, which does not melt below 212 degrees F. 

Puranas: Ancient stories. They are compendia of mythologies and religious instructions. There are 18 chief Puranas. Most important are Vayu, Vishnu, Agni, Bhavishya, and Bhagavata Puranas. They were compiled during the Gupta Period. 

Purusha: Male. The masculine principle that transcends nature, remains oblivious and inactive. It is the counterpart of Prakriti, or the feminine principle. 


Quadrupeds: Four footed animals. 

Quattrocento: Italian term for the 15th century.


Rakshasa Demons. Cannibals. 

Rakshasi: She-demon. Rakshasi, the feminine gender of Rakshasa. 

Rasa: In Indian poetics and aesthetics ‘rasa’ is the approximation of various emotions in a creative work of art. By using them relevantly, a creative artist rouses and refines similar emotions in the minds of the recipients. The readers, the audience or the viewer enjoys the work through this process. In that sense they are approximation of every type of human emotional state. 

Raudra rasa: In Indian poetics this rasa imparts to the viewer or audience the emotive content of fury. 

Ravana: The ten-headed demon king of Lanka (Ceylon) whom Rama (Raama) defeated and killed. He is the anti-hero of the Sanskrit epic, Ramayana. 

Realism: A stylistic trend of the second half of the 19th century, with precise representation. 

Reed Pen: It is made from ordinary reed and lasts for only a few strokes. Chinese reed pens are however more durable. 

Regence: Stylistic movement in France, 1715-1722. 

Relief: The oldest printing technique where the block is cut out and the design stands out. 

Relining: A process of restoring artworks. 

Renaissance: Important art historical era which began in Italy around 1420, based on the Philosophy of classical antiquity. 

Reservoir Pen: A drawing instrument with a felt tip where the drawing ink flows directly from a container located in the handle onto the felt tip. 

Resin: A sticky substance from plants like firs and pines. 

Retrospective: An exhibit that shows a large number of works done over a period of time by a living artist. 

Rhythm: It results from spacing the lines and arranging the surfaces. 

Rishi: Sage. Often endowed with poetical brilliance and spiritual insight. 

Rococo: A decorative European stylistic movement during 1730-1770/80 which preferred lightness, prettiness and playfulness. 

Romanticism: Artistic movement of the early 19th century, characterized by atmospheric landscapes, and a return to the world of medieval legends and history. 

Rudra-Shiva: In early Vedic age the Rudras were the gods of destruction. In later times Shiva was thought to be having a dual character. He destroys and regenerates.  

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