Make your own free website on

9. Indian Art Synopsis art 162 honors


Shiva as Nataraja (Shiva as Lord of the Dance), bronze, ca. 1000 CE

The art of India primarily reflects the religious expression of the two major religions that developed within its region, Buddhism and Hinduism. As with many other other cultures, the artistic creativity expressed itself in religious-oriented sculpture, painting, and architecture. Iconographical representation of the Buddha, which didn't appear until the 2nd century CE, appears to be related to contact with Greek culture around that time; other Buddhist artistry appears in stupas, temples carved out of rock, low-relief symbols carved on architectural elements, and wall frescos painted in caves. Hindu art appears in temple architecture, temple carvings, and in paintings on paper, all in symbolic settings related to Hindu deities and theology. - DJB

Indian Art


Buddhism - The system of religion inaugurated by the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama (? - 544? BCE)) in India in the 6th century BCE (R-145)
Karma - (Sans., "action, fate"). In Buddhism and Hinduism, the name given the results of action, especially the cumulative results of a person's deeds in one stage of his existence as controlling his destiny in the next...(R-539)
Nirvana - In Buddhist teaching,...enlightenment...(R-717)
Ashoka - Indian Emperor (272-232 BCE) and founder of Maurya dynasty (c. 322-184 BCE) (G9-428)
Stupa - cylindrical domed or conical shaped earthen-filled structure representing a mountain that marks a shrine or location where are buried relics of an important Buddhist monk
Chaitya - Buddhist temple carved out of rock inside a hillside or mountain
Yaksha/Yakshi - nature spirits, male/female spirit personifications of nature
Bodhisattva - (Sans., "being of wisdom"). In Buddhism one who has attained the staus of a Buddha but who postpones his entry to Buddahood in order to assist others in their quest for the truth. (R-117)
Vishnu/Krishna Shiva - two of the Hindu trinity of deities (Trimurti), Krishna being an avatar, or incarnation, of Vishnu
Mudras - symbolic hand gesture
Nimbus - circle of flame surrounding a Hindu deity
Gouache - heavy, opaque watercolor applied to paper
Mandapas - entrance hallway into sacred space of Hindu temple


Harappan Stamps, from Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan ca. 2500— 1700 BCE
Seals, steatite, each approx. 1 3/8 x 13/8”

Harappan Male Torso, Red Sandstone, 3 3/4”h. c. 2000 BCE

Lion Capital, capital of column erected by Ashoka, c.272 —231 BCE

Great Stupa, Sanchi, 1st cent. BCE to 1st cent. CE
Eastern gateway & Yakshi, detail of eastern gateway

Chaitya Hall interior at Km-li, c. 100 CE

Standing Buddha, from Gandhara, grey schist 2nd— 3rd cent. CE

Fasting Buddha, Gandahra, schist, 1st cent. BCE

Seated Buddha, from Katra Mound, Mathura, red sandstone, 2nd cent. CE

Preaching Buddha, Gupta period, sandstone, c. 475 CE

Standing Buddha, Gupta period, 5th cent. CE

Ajanta Caves, Gupta period, Ca. 450 —500

Bodhisattva, wall fresco in Cave I
Lovers, wall fresco east wall Cave I

Visvanatha temple, Khajuraho, India, c. 1000 CE

Shiva as Nataraja (Shiva as Lord of the Dance), bronze, ca. 1000 CE

Krishna & Radha in a Pavillion, 111/8” x 7 3/4” c. 1760

Krishna & Radha in a Grove, gouache on paper, c. 1780

Akbar Viewing a Wild Elephant Capture Near Malwa, Gouache on paper, 1600

Allegorical Representation of the Emperor Jahangir Seated on an Hourglass Throne, 17th cent.


Timeline of Indian Art

Early Hindu Art in India

The Sculpture of India

South Asian History, History of India and the Indian Subcontinent


From the earliest settlements along the Indus River, the Dravidians and later the Aryans spread their settlements deep into the sub-continent. Protected by geographic barriers, the valley inhabitants had limited contact with the outside world. Farmers cultivated cotton and processed it into cloth which became a valuable trade commodity. Their cities were well planned with shops, granaries, extensive sewer systems and protective walls. Two major religions, Buddhism and Hinduism, developed in India and spread throughout Asia.

Art served religion well in India. The artists of the area cut unique Buddhist Temples from rocky cliffs with facades and interiors intricately carved to imitate the wooden constructions of the period. From the earliest simple structures to the ornate and imposing later ones, the Hindu Temples must be appreciated as sculpture as well as architecture. Their paintings, particularly from the Gupta dynasty, are classed as some of the finest in history. - Source: