Indian art

art from Indian Subcontinent cultures

Indian art consists of a variety of art forms, including plastic arts (e.g., pottery sculpture), visual arts (e.g., paintings), and textile arts (e.g., woven silk).


  • Indian Art demands of the artist the power of communion with the soul of things, the sense of spiritual taking precedence of the sense of material beauty, and fidelity to the deeper vision within...
    • Sri Aurobindo, Ghose, A., Nahar, S., & Institut de recherches évolutives. (2000). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de recherches évolutives.
  • I have, however, mentioned [in The Foundations of Indian Culture] that Islamic culture contributed the Indo-Saracenic architecture to Indian culture. I do not think it has done anything more in India of cultural value. It gave some new forms to art and poetry. Its political institutions were always semi-barbaric.
    • Sri Aurobindo, Ghose, A., Nahar, S., & Institut de recherches évolutives. (2000). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de recherches évolutives.
  • We shall never be able to do justice to Indian art, for ignorance and fanaticism have destroyed its greatest achievements, and have half ruined the rest. At Elephanta the Portuguese certified their piety by smashing statuary and bas-reliefs in unrestrained barbarity; and almost everywhere in the north the Moslems brought to the ground those triumphs of Indian architecture, of the fifth and sixth centuries, which tradition ranks as far superior to the later works that arouse our wonder and admiration today. The Moslems decapitated statues, and tore them limb from limb; they appropriated for their mosques, and in great measure imitated, the graceful pillars of the Jain temples. Time and fanaticism joined in the destruction, for the orthodox Hindus abandoned and neglected temples that had been profaned by the touch of alien hands.
  • We may guess at the lost grandeur of north Indian architecture by the powerful edifices that still survive in the south, where Moslem rule entered only in minor degree, and after some habituation to India had softened Mohammedan hatred of Hindu ways. Further, the great age of temple architecture in the south came in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, after Akbar had tamed the Moslems and taught them some appreciation of Indian art. Consequently the south is rich in temples, usually superior to those that remain standing in the north, and more massive and impressive; Fcrgusson counted some thirty "Dravidian" or southern temples any one of which, in his estimate, must have cost as much as an English cathedral.
  • Before Indian art, as before every phase of Indian civilization, we stand in humble wonder at its age and its continuity.
  • But we cannot judge these works in their original form from what survives of them today; and doubtless there are clues to their appreciation that are not revealed to alien souls. Even the Occidental, however, can admire the nobility of the subject, the majestic scope of the plan, the unity of the composition, the clearness, simplicity and decisiveness of the line, and among many details the astonishing perfection of that bane of all artists, the hands. Imagination can picture the artist-priest who prayed in these cells and perhaps painted these walls and ceilings with fond and pious art while Europe lay buried in her early-medieval darkness. Here at Ajanta religious devotion fused architecture, sculpture and painting into a happy unity, and produced one of the sovereign monuments of Hindu art.
  • Sages such as Sri Aurobindo who have meditated on Hindu iconography, and savants such as Ananda Coomara-swamy, Stella Kramrisch, and Alice Boner who have studied the subject, assure us that the forms and features of Hindu icons have a source higher than the normal reaches of the human mind. The icons are no photocopies of any human or animal forms as we find them in their physical frames. They are in fact crystallizations of the abstract into the concrete, of the infinite into the finite. They always point beyond themselves, and a contemplation of them always draws us from the outer to the inner.Hindu Šilpašãstras lay down not only technical formulas for carving holy icons in stone, and metal, and other materials. They also lay down elaborate rules about how the artist is to fast, and pray, and otherwise purify himself for long periods before he is permitted, if at all, to have a psychic image of the God or Goddess whom he wants to incarnate in a physical form. It is this sublime source of the Šilpašãstras which alone can explain a Sarnath Buddha, or a Chidambram NaTarãja, or a Vidisha Varãha, to name only a few of the large assembly of divine images inhabiting the earth. It is because this sublime source is not accessible to modern sculptors that we have to be content with poor copies which look like parodies of the original marvels.
    • S.R. Goel, Defence of Hindu Society, Chapter 5
  • "India has always been an object ofyeaming, a realm of wonder, a world of magic."... "India is the land of dreams. India had always dreamt - more of the Bliss that is man's final goal. And this has helped India to be more creative in history than any other nation. Hence the effervescence of myths and legends, religious and philosophies, music, and dances and the different styles of architecture." ... "India has created a special momentum in world history as a country to be searched for."
    • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel,quoted in Klosterrnaier, Klaus K A Survey of Hinduism. State University of New York Press. 1994. Patri, Umesh Hindu scriptures and American transcendentalists 1st ed. quoted from Londhe, S. (2008). A tribute to Hinduism: Thoughts and wisdom spanning continents and time about India and her culture. New Delhi: Pragun Publication.
  • The Hindu architects produced buildings incomparably more rich and interesting as works of art. I have not visited Southern India, where, it is said, the finest specimen of Hindu architecture are to be found. But I have seen enough of the art in Rajputana to convince me of its enormous superiority to any work of the Mohammedans. The temples at Chitor, for example, are specimens of true classicism.
    • Aldous Huxley, quoted in : On Hinduism Reviews and Reflections - By Ram Swarup p.161-165
  • Gold and silver bangles, ear-ornaments, necklaces, and other jewelry “so well finished and so highly polished,” says Marshall, “that they might have come out of a Bond Street jeweler’s of today rather than from a prehistoric house of 5,000 years ago.”
    • Sir John Marshall, Quoted in Durant, Will (1963). Our Oriental heritage. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • "It will be seen that stage practice in Asia owes a great deal to India as an ancestral source. Indian influence on dance and theatre which are one and the same thing in Asia was like some great subterranean river following a spreading course and forming new streams on the way".
    • A.C.Scott at the very start of his "The Theatre in Asia".SCOTT 1972: The Theatre in Asia (The History of the Theatre). Scott, A.C. Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1972. Quoted in [1] [2]
  • "China also passed on to Japan the ceremonial dances of India with their music, which were Japanized as the solemn and colorful Bugaku".
    • (SACHS:1943:105). SACHS 1943: The Rise of Music in the Ancient World, East and West. Sachs, Curt. W.W.Norton & Company, New York, 1943. Quoted in [3] [4]
  • [And here is what Sachs has to say about Bharata's ancient text the Natya-Shastra, which he agrees could be as early as the 4th century BCE and about which he tells us that it] "testifies to a well-established system of music in ancient India, with an elaborate theory of intervals, consonances, modes, melodic and rhythmic patterns". ... "Bharata's text was probably rehandled as early as antiquity, and it may confirm the idea that Bharata himself wrote his treatise much earlier" ... [He also tells us that this text establishes that it represents a stage where the] "slow transition from folk-song to art-song, from hundreds of tribal styles to one all-embracing music of India […] had long ago come to an end".
    • (SACHS 1943:157-169).SACHS 1943: The Rise of Music in the Ancient World, East and West. Sachs, Curt. W.W.Norton & Company, New York, 1943. Quoted in [5] [6]
  • “I am sad to note that Indians know very little about their folk arts or the artistes…using this medium (TV) to destroy one’s own originality and to spread foreign culture is dangerous…the intellectuals…should recognise the fact that their own culture is dissolving like delta in the sea”. .... [When he had visited Gujarat some years earlier, he had met a Bhavai folk drama artiste who knew 200 plays. But, this time, the oldest Bhavai artiste knew only 65 plays:] “Between two generations, 135 Bhavais were lost! Nobody bothered to record them. They were lost forever”.
    • Dr. James O’Barnhill, retired Professor of Theatre Arts, Brown University, USA, in an interview to the Organiser (5/3/1989) quoted in [7] [This article is a major extract from the article "Sita Ram Goel, memories and ideas" by S. Talageri, written for the Sita Ram Goel Commemoration Volume, entitled "India's Only Communalist", edited by Koenraad Elst, published in 2005.

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