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Pramanam. The Second Aphorism

Updated: Mar 9

About Proportional Balance

In this chapter, I will discuss the second aphorism, 'Pramanam,' which is related to the sense of perspective and proportion, which helps maintain a balance of composition. It is a well-known subject to all artists and an essential part of grammar books. Establishing the highest significance of this part, the author stated that without knowledge of foreshortening and proportion, a painting may be a matter of joke. Still, it may not be a severe creation.

Proportional measurement of the human head

This aphorism helps you determine the size, length, etc., of several objects in your composition and how to maintain the proportional balance within two or more objects. Consequently, it also establishes an object's proper form that helps produce the value. Here is an example: To paint a palace, it is necessary to make its pillars very suitable to carry the castle's roof. It will become a matter of joke if they build very narrow or weak. This example is a shared sense of symmetry; however, a unique matter related to this aphorism is that the author not only proposed to use this aphorism in such type of common sense, rather he precepted to enforce this aphorism to prove the social dignity or status of people! 

We can quickly notice the reverberation of the words of the oldest author when we concentrate our eyes on some of the old miniature paintings of the king’s court of the Mughal era.  When artists of that era started to depict a painting of the king's court, they were always conscious of maintaining the social status or priority of the people by using this aphorism; they placed every court member holding their designation. They managed it either by keeping a respectful distance from the king’s throne or depicting more prominent figures than other ordinary members of the court, even if the figure was placed at a far distance from the front group of figures of that composition, just like the painting of the right side.

King's Court

In the right line, although the first figure is placed in front of you, it is too short because he was not so crucial in the court of Jahangir. Meanwhile, in the same line, look at the last figure placed at the front of the king's throne; it is depicted in huge size that looks odd in terms of the sense of perspective because he is too far from your vision. But this means this person is one of the most influential figures in the court of Jahangir. No matter where he has taken the sit. It is the best example of a unique application of this aphorism.

In our society, we always maintain a standard of respectful manners for all that is possibly not applicable to children. Sometimes, we show a particular respect for a special person who may not be similar to ordinary people. The author’s precept was that artists must maintain this sort of proportional dignity in their painting seriously, even though it neglects the standard theory of perspective that depends on regular visualization.

Please note, in that period of the historical Mughal era, capital punishment was granted to an artist who composed a king’s court painting without maintaining the said aphorism and whimsically carried out the artwork. I hope you realize how vital this aphorism was.

Artist - kavish Kamlesh solanki. Class - SrKg from Nasik.

I noticed the repercussion of this precept of the author in the children’s painting, where they always try to show the importance of that object they liked mostly by creating either a bigger object than other of a composition or by using any warm or deep color. It is always their ambition to express themselves on canvas or paper; to do so, they even agree to compromise with basic grammar. The transparency of this type of childish vision brings the actual freedom that they enjoy very much. 

It is striking that the concept of proportion isn’t the same for all. Asian concepts are far different from Western concepts of perspective. The Egyptian concept of perspective wouldn’t correspond with the Western and oriental concepts. In our oldest oriental paintings, we have discovered that when an artist drew a painting of Lord Buddha, he depicted the lord’s portrait bigger than other Buddhist mendicants. They wanted to show the divinity and dignity of Lord Buddha. It is not only an example of the precedence of the oldest grammar, but it also has given the highest freedom to an artist.

Given the past concept of Chinese proportion, female little feet symbolized beauty, but it may not be acceptable in all terms.  The Egyptian idea of proportion is not similar to Indian or Western proportion; however, it doesn’t mean that the Egyptian or Chinese concept of proportion was wrong. All ideas of those countries are established on their socioeconomic culture and beliefs; as I said in the past in my introductory article on Raag-Mala paintings, -  It is a widespread concern that to understand the cultural side of any country, it is a must to have deep knowledge regarding the social life and traditional beliefs related to that country. 

The oldest author mainly ascribed the importance of the rule of using this aphorism that is not only to the common notion; instead, he wanted to use this aphorism to uncover the value of any object. The above examples of social dignities are reflecting his thoughts.   

By maintaining this sense of proportion, our universe is functioning continuously.

Now, we will find out the gist of the discussion.


1. What is the proportional balance? 

It’s a method of assessment of the object that helps determine its value by establishing the relative ratio between two or more parts of a composition.   


2. How do you maintain the proportional balance?

To maintain a proportional balance, it is necessary to determine the weight and value of the object that the differential comparison between the other objects of a composition would establish. 


3. Is the aphorism applicable equally in all terms?

No, to apply this aphorism in the highest label, it is necessary to have the most comprehensive knowledge regarding the subject matter of the painting; otherwise, it would be perfect for the common sense of symmetry. 

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