Indian Art: Sculpture, Architecture and Painting

by Dr. Kirit Mankodi

My class notes

Summary from the Program

The Indian sub-continent covering more than three million square kms. has a history stretching across several millennia. The climate and geography of the country varies from the sub-alpine in the Himalayas to the tropical in the extreme south; and sandy deserts are in the western parts. Several waves of invaders entered the country from the north-west and left their stamp on the civilization and its art in the course of some five thousand years. In the course of the centuries, some great kindoms developed: first the Mauryas in the third-second centuries before Christ, the Guptas in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D., the Rajput kingdoms during the medieval period, later various Muslim dynasties from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, and finally the Europeans.

A number architectural forms were practised: monuments excavated and decorated like the interiors of great temple halls; temples in stone, brick and wood; forts and palaces, even underground structures such as stepped wells. In sculpture again, stone, wood, bronze and brass were employed, and in painting, murals which date back to the fifth century at Ajanta, as also miniature paintings in the form of religious book covers of the Buddhists and Jains, and court paintings encouraged by the Rajputs and Muslim rulers. The development of these art forms will be considered with the help of slides.

My Notes

Indian Art:  Sculpture, Architecture, Painting - Dr. Mongoli

- lotus leaves and flowers a common motif
- full, overflowing vases also recur, symbol of plenty
- rock cut Buddhist caves - 200 BC - cut to imitate wood!  Wood also attached to face
- Ganges (the river) is a goddess
- in earlier representations only (such as Elephanta) she is shown as three-headed, for her three courses, through heaven, earth, and... 
by giles