• Category Archives Art of India in ancient times.



                                             TEXTILES OF INDIA IN ANCIENT TIMES


    More ancient than the development of ceramics in the production of utilitarian objects is the activity of production of textiles, early man began to make first hand weaving fibers; even in its rigid form with what made baskets, also attach pieces of skins of animals using needles made of bones of animals in the Paleolithic period to create different items. At the end of the “stone age” accessories using a sort of loom, very primitive indeed were made. They place horizontally a tree branch holding the plot of fibers that were tightened with stones fastened in one of its extreme points, going stringing and weaving to make textiles.

    In the Neolithic period man had at its disposal plants and animals; its new sedentary condition provided and they use the skin of those animals and plants to obtain the raw material for the production of textiles. New tools facilitate the realization of efficient and more complex looms.

    It is known about textiles made in ancient India especially through references made in literature and in the clothing represented in sculptures figures. In Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus Valley around 3000 BC there was a cotton textile industry and endure fragments of this textiles impressed in archaeological excavations items that correspond to this period proving its existence. Unfortunately the humid climates during the monsoon contributed to the deterioration of those fabrics made of organic materials were rotting and alterations of its primary characteristics took place and therefore led to their destruction.

    With the passage of time textiles in India were made adorned with fine flowers and robes embroidered using strands of gold, descriptions of them had been mentioned in writings left by the Greeks that correspond to the time of the campaigns of Alexander the great. Also mentioned in these and subsequent writings are references about the fibers collected from plants; specifically the cotton weaving in India in approximately the year 1750 B.C

     Textiles from ancient India


    A management manual, the Arthasastra that apparently dates from the third century B.C, mentioned “Ordinances” to distribute materials to spinners and weavers. At that time, hardly any of the occupations was open to women. In fact, women who had decided not to marry were banned access to occupations of the majority of jobs. However, it was permitted to weave; the widows and retired prostitutes could practice this profession. In the Arthasastra document were written which were the penalties for fraudulent practices and also the list of taxes to pay for the weavers. Among the listed  textiles were the fabric of white bark of Bengal, the linen of Banaras, cotton coming from the South India and various kinds of blankets, whose texture was described as (soft and slippery).

    In ancient India existed nevertheless differentiation between fabrics made in rural areas for the humble masses and those made in workshops of the State for the royalty and the wealthy. The best workmanship is found in the ritual textiles used to be hangings in temples.




    Survive some ancient written references of the medieval (900­ – 1200 BC) where are mentioned the terms that were used on textiles manufacture , this references contain as well suggestive names of fabrics related to the places where they  were produced, however details on the technique used to made them were scarce.


    In the Muslim period in India that stretched from around 1200 A.D. until 1760; in which the British took over, a succession of sultans who controlled most of the India for a long period, led to the introduction of styles and Oriental techniques in the textile industry who raised the quality and price of textiles produced in this period to be of high quality and high demand. During the period of mandate of Akbar in India textile art reached very high levels of quality, variety and exquisite beauty and flourished in this way until the end of the 17TH century.




    Textiles produced with Persian influence, specifically the Sassanian styles were sumptuous and elegant and characterized by decoration of drawings arranged in rows, or staggered. Designs with round medallions were made with symmetrical motifs arranged around the tree of life as well as fantastic beast and animals with mystic elements of the culture of India represented with colorful drawings and great level of detail in the termination of the fabrics. They have a striking beauty and were coveted by merchants who saw a huge opportunity of enrichment in these textiles. Such is the case of English merchants.


    The company of the East Indies around the year 1600 sent their ships to the India with gold bullion to exchange for fine cotton textiles. The British decided that because the quality of the textiles produced in India was so fine and show so prosper future it will be best to them establish their commercial stations known as “factories”.

     ancient India textiles

    Dyed silk scarves from Bengal were sold in thousands as cloths for use in the neck by the sailors, farm workers and other workers. There are many other Indian words still in use in the English language that come from this period of mass merchandising in the textile sector with India who became the largest exporter of textiles that the world had known, printed Silk cloths, cotton and blends of cotton and silk, scarves, neck scarves and table napkins were sent by thousands to England.

    The English East India Company in the period between of 1670 and 1720 imported on average around 15 million yards of Indian cotton cloth a year. These colorful textiles could resist washing and did not fade with light and that was something very appreciated by merchandisers and customers alike. They were sold as extremely fashionable cloth or ready-made garments with exotic designs. Everything march perfect to this industry until the late seventeenth century in which a series of legal acts proclaimed to protect the European woolen limit and later complete banner the trade, process or consumption of Indian cotton cloth.



  • Metalwork and Jewelry in ancient India.


    Comb from ancient India


    Metalwork and Jewelry in ancient India.

    Body ornaments and metal works in Harrappan culture.


    The beginnings of metal work and manufactured jewellery in India can be traced in the Indus Valley civilization in a distant time that can be situated in the Neolithic age culture known as Mehrgarh (7000-5500 B.C.)

    In the early period of the Harrappan culture were already elaborated decorations that consisted of rounded pieces of  carved soft stone passed by a thin cord, were also used other materials such as seeds and shells.

    Harrappan people were apparently skilled craftsmen; they also work other materials as agate, Amethyst, carnelian, lapis lazuli and turquoise. Some stones were heated to produce a reddish color that was very appreciated by this civilization of the Indus Valley.

    During the last period of the Harrappan, Mohenjo Daro y Dholavira cultures artisans used materials such as bronze, copper, silver and Gold  making necklaces with simple decorations and  head metal bands. They confectioned as well bangles and other ornaments of molten metal. Copper material was mined locally in Harappa, in places like Baluchistan and Rajasthan.


    Examples of this early jewelry were stamped in a bronze cast figurine depicting a young ballerina of Mohenjo Daro. In the dancer arm can be appreciated the large amount of bracelets used. It was made approximately in 2,500 B.C.


    Sculpture from Mohenjo Daro


    Other decorative articles were made using materials such as glazed earthenware (not made from clay), terracotta, empty shells and ivory. Jewelry in the form of anthropomorphic symbols, animals and vegetation, as well as trees and depictions of feminine sexual organs were also elaborated by them. This early culture of the Hindu Valley had mainly matriarchal spiritual beliefs, which attached great importance to the female sexual organs; providers of fertility and reproduction. This jewelry was worn mainly by women (although men also adorned it) and was not buried with the deceased; instead they passed to their heirs.


    The Metalwork develops in Hinduism period in India


    Abundant mineral wealth in India became known worldwide, so wealth and lifestyle in the populations of the India grew progressively to opulence between (700-300 BC). This enrichment is especially visible in the standard of living of the high social castes sharpening therefore the difference between these and the lower castes of the population.


    Bronze sculptures, jewelry for body adornment, metal works related to the elaboration of images of worship and decoration of Hindu temples were performed with astonishing mastery acquired over time by artisans, jewelers and goldsmiths whose techniques and designs; without abandoning the characteristic Hindu elements, assimilated also others coming from other cultures such as the Greeks and Chinese.


    India silver ancient adornements


    The gold was used in India for body ornaments and other decorative pieces rather than for the production of coins as did the Greeks, from whom the Indians obtained large quantities of this material. According to Hindu belief, the gold and silver are considered as sacred metals. Gold for them is a symbol of the Sun, while the silver suggests the cold moon. Both metals are highly appreciated in India but specific Gold by its incorruptible characteristic is considered in this country as a symbol of immortality.


    The Metalwork and jewelry master quality production in the Mughal period.


    Previous to the heyday of the Mughal dynasties the Islamic jewelry had developed metallurgical work in India of some importance with the de Gaznavids, Gurids, and Turks, as well as some dynasties of Afghanistan. The power of the region increased, reaching its peak during the Mughal Empire, which spanned from the 16th century to the 19th century, and stretched from the India subcontinent to Afghanistan. The dazzling wealth of the Turk-Ottoman Empire in India was so enormous that it is consider as one of the richest in its time.


    In the Mughal period oriental style and techniques influences and enrich the designs and perfection of both jewelry and metal works in general. Many of these magnificent works ware made to decorate structures in buildings such as doors and windows. Luxurious furniture and articles of daily use such as mirrors with bases and handles of precious and non-precious metals, chests, and boxes were made for important and wealthy people that could afford them.


    Splendid and detail engraves daggers, swords, and guns are also within the objects made for both domestic consumption and export. Stands out perfectly the mastery with which these metal pieces wore made; combining the techniques, experiences as well as design and traditional style elements from Mughal and India cultures resulting in a great work of art.


    India. Dagger and sword


    Decorations of these works remain faithful to the traditional themes that represent plants, animals and mythical figures of the folklore of the India and scenes of everyday life but incorporate some geometric design elements adopted from the Persians, resulting in very elaborate works of art with great attention to detail and extensive use of precious and semi-precious materials.


    Precious and semi precious stones in ancient India


    In the elaboration of jewels and metal work in ancient India specifically well consider was the diamond not only because of its exceptional beauty, but also for the protective properties conferred by the tradition in this culture. Diamond it is used as a protector against snakes and to ward off enemies and the forces of evil among others. India was the first country that extracted diamonds from the mines; some of them are so old that dating back to 296 BC.


    Tradition of utilization of rock such as agate, Carnelian and quartz crystal in jewelry use is very old but this is not much known. There was a widespread utilize of crystalline quartz and chalcedony in ancient India. The lapidaries in Vellum, a city in the South of India, were worked on different varieties of Crystal rock, like regular quartz, smoky quartz, cairn gorme and Amethyst. These stones were beautifully settled in jewelry made in metal but also ornaments of different objects for both sacred and mundane use.


    Decoration with jewelry has been used by the people of India for centuries but for Royal jewels were symbol also of power and connection to the divine especially for the Maharaja and other members of the Royal family. The use of the precious stone in India was documented in the encyclopedia of the 6th century BC known as: the ‘Brihat Samhita “ (Utpalaparimala,), written in Sanskrit by the astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer Daivajna Varahamihira (505-587).

     Royal juwelry importance in India


    Among the names include in this dictionary are some such as:


    Marakata (Esmeralda).

    MUKTA (pearls).

    Padmaraga or Manikya (ruby)

    Vajra (diamante).

    Brahmamani (bi-color tourmaline).

    Gomeda (Hyacinth or zircon).

    Indranila (Sapphire).

    Jyotirasa .Karketana (Chrysoberyl).

    Pravals (coral).

    Pulaka (Garnet).

    Pushparaga (Topaz).

    Rajamani (Royal jewel).

    Rudhirakhya (carnelian).

    Sasikanta (Moonstone).

    Saugandhika (variety of Sapphire).

    Sphatika (Crystal rock).

    Sasyaka (copper sulfate).

    Vaidurya (Pencil lazuli).

    Vimalaka (pyrite).


    Gold coins from the Kushan culture (Mahayana); a Buddhist corporate culture that ruled in approximately 200s BC most of the North of the India are preserved today. They are displayed in drawings made in relief. The designs provide elements of social and religious history of this culture and also show the skill rich by them that are of significant importance in the North of the India region.


    Silver objects from India


    The Tamil region in the South of India is especially known for its accomplished metallurgical works of bronze and the multitude of statues of cast loss wax elaborated there. The culture of the Cholas (850-1250 AD) was a dynasty of Tamil which ruled the South of the India during the same period in which the Maurya Empire and Kushanthe ruled the north of this country.


    Importance of Jewelry in India in the traditional wedding ceremony “Solah Shringar”


    The “sixteen decorations”, used in Hindu , ancient custom wedding tradition dating back to the medieval India; still remain today, and it entails the use during the wedding ceremony of the specific ornaments, jewelry and cosmetics to be used on the day of the marriage by the bride.


    Some items of jewellery in the Solah Shringar; which is how it is called this set of 16 decorative elements, must contain the red color which is considered as good omen. Rings can be used in all ten fingers and include a Hathphulor, which is a Medallion that is placed in the back of the hand and attached to each ring by a series of gold chains. However the bridal  indumenta in different regions of the India use distinctive elements in their costumes that correspond to the specific customs of the region.


    India brides


    The Weddings, important events in the social life of its inhabitants have numerous jewelries and distinctive body ornaments whose beauty, sophistication and mysticism have transcended the borders of India. These are accompanied by a standard range of bracelets, bangles, earrings, nose rings and toe rings, been this last one in silver or other materials but never in gold because for Hindu religious only divinities can use gold below the ankle.  Bangles are normally made of gold, silver or iron, and the Shankha in ivory or ceramic.


    India metal adornement


    During the 15th and 16th centuries the Europeans, particularly the Portuguese, developed a great interest in India, especially about the valuable mineral wealth. The Esmeraldas, Ruby and diamonds of Golconda (located in Maharashtra) were on great appreciation by them.


    Towards the end of the XVI century, already countries like Britain, Portugal, Holland and France had established factories all over the region of India. The production of metal work and jewelry in India has maintained the importance, quality, demand and high level of marketing trough time. Today, with the rise of the curiosity of the world on such fascinating art and culture the metal work of India arouse the interest of a diverse crowd at the international level.


    Metal comb from ancient India


  • Architecture of India


    Architecture of India


    Prehistoric stages in Indi’s architecture.

    Regarding the architecture of India it is important to begin by mentioning the excavations that archaeologist John Marshall carried out in Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa in 1920; because they contributed to a better understanding of this culture of the River Indus who came to build urban sites surprisingly well planned for that time and that had even sewer system.

    In the area where the Deccan Plateau extends over the largest part of the South-Central territory of the Indian subcontinent have been found megalithic type grave’s (architectural constructions made with large blocks of stone barely trimmed) that correspond to the Mesolithic period.

    Also corresponding to this architecture period are several megalithic monuments highlighting the dolmens type among them (several slabs wedged into the ground in a vertical position with a slab as a cover leaning on them in a horizontal position).

    These architectonic structures were made using terracotta and brick. However despite all the excavations carried out by archaeologists has not been possible to find traces or vestiges of temples or palaces in these ruins found in Mohenjo – Daro and Harappa. If such type of buildings had been made they were not preserved. Remains have been found however of some vaults constructed of brick which denotes the advanced constructive perfection system employed which also include the walls that protected the Citadel or acropolis.


    Harappa Ruins


    Public buildings are located on a set of terraces drawn and aligned in parallel streets following a regular symmetry-based structured plan. These buildings include:

    -Baths or hot springs.

    -lectures room type (athletic cultural and social center that did not require much space)

    -cloisters rooms stances (some sort of quadrangular arcaded Gallery with arches resting on columns on all four sides).

    -Water wells. It is also known of the existence of individual water wells for each house located on the back of them.

    -Aqueducts (ramifications of narrow canals with ceramic pipes leading the wasted waters outside the city.

    Other locations where have been also found by archaeologists remains of civilizations in India dating back to ancient times are:



    -Dholavira (Gujarat).


    Have been found also amazing structures built of stone whose depth measured from the surface to the bottom is of great magnitude. This water collecting walls allowed the former inhabitants gather water during the monsoon floods. These structures were planned in such a way that different levels directed water to the places that looks like some sort of pools for use in periods of drought. The city of Dhalavira has revealed in excavations for years the ingenious architectonic structure of the city conceived taking into account the need to keep water in so hostile climate.


    Dholavira City.


    Buddhist temples in India

    The wooden shrines built by the Buddhist monks were deteriorating rapidly destroying themselves in a very short time, it can be said that for this reason they were considered as temporary sanctuaries, very in tune with the characteristic of the pilgrimage of the Buddhist doctrine whose monks traveled from one side to another giving teachings and helping the needy.

    But this doctrine began to require places of meditation and temples of worship that will last and protect them from the weather, by which the caves provided a good haven, away from the hustle and bustle and enduring for more say, so what better than transform them to the needs of its doctrine?, after all they did have the best constructive force needed to tackle such an empress; the faith that move many faithful to carry out tasks that required huge efforts and time, but everything was possible if the purpose was to build a temple to pay homage to Buddha and spread his teachings.


    BuddhistTemples conmemorative of Buddha meditations place.


    Buddhism made excavation of caves an architectural important category, as from this moment the cave shrines become the most characteristic spaces. It can be said that the art of the excavated temples is in Indian traditional architecture the peculiarity that distinguishes it from other cultures.

    From the 3rd century BC and until the fifth century after Christ, the naturally formed caves and also the excavated were very important, constituting this temples of laborious dedication a shelter from adverse weather conditions and insects for Buddhist monks while they could gather together when they needed it in an atmosphere of silence for meditation and strong enough to last for a long time.

    They have helped us to know today the structure of the non-religious buildings in ancient times by the fact of having taken the form of the first construction of sacral buildings made in wood; and transpolar in detail is characteristics to the stone. The technique of excavation used denotes a broad knowledge of the stone characteristics, geography and topography of the places where they were made.


    Temples Carved in montains and rock formations.


     Buddhist temples main structures characteristics.

    Chaityas: “Chitya”, which means ash: (Hall of prayer in the Buddhist temples).

    Viharas: meeting place used as housing, dining room, library, classroom, workshop, etc.; it is the room in square shape of the monks who care for the temple and are dispose to accommodate them during the rainy season. They are the large central stance with the monks’ rooms surround it.

    The Buddhist Stupas

    They were mud mounds in the shape of domes containing inside the relics (body parts remains  as for example the teeth, belonging to Buddha and other important monks) the Stupas were part of religious buildings. The Maurya emperor Ashoka; converted to Buddhism in the year 260 C. conceived it as a . Memorial cosmic symbol of the Paranirvana of Buddha.





    These Stupas were classified in:




    The architecture of the Jain temples

    The construction of monasteries and often spectacular sacred venues (as shown in the image of the interior of the Vimala Vasahi Jaina temple at Mount Abu), show how the influence of different cultures as time goes by resulted in a particular architectural style where curiously temples and religious activities have rooms dedicated to libraries and to the study of the teachings and even have clinics to serve animals who for this religion are of utmost importance. For Jain religion, the universe is full of individual souls, there are many that have had the misfortune of falling captive and are forced to live on Earth sometimes as men or animals and deserve all the respect and care.

    These temples have very presented therefore respect for animals and nature in general, which is a main characteristic inherent to the religious and philosophical aspect that spread Jainism. As in the case of other religions in India as well who also have this precepts in high consideration. The geography and climate; as well as social factors in each region counted with distinctive architectural elements outlined these Jain temples in the places where they were built.

     Jain Temple. India


    Hinduism’ temples architecture.

    The architectural style of construction of the Hindu Temple in general was conformed as was also done in other religions, varied in accordance with climatic, geographic, ethnic, racial diversity, history and linguistics in which they developed. In a country with such vast territories and so much diversity these aspects simply cannot be ignore.

    The first built temples are directly related to the rise of Hinduism during the Gupta period where they began to build temples in stone which were not destroyed over time as it did with the firsts Buddhist’  wood temples.

    Kahuraho temple.India


    The oldest temples that we find standing still today, is built around the 5th century A.D. and is destined for the Hindu cult; and no doubt reflect the power, strength and perpetuity the Gupta wanted to their religion. It’s a formidable effort to provide a safe and enduring building where to offer worship and respect to their gods. The blocks that make up the structure of the temple are worked almost to perfection in the same quarry, contributing to the artistic quality of the classical Gupta period.

    These first temples are still small and poor decorated and are the ancestors of the colossal temples rajputs and Dravidian of the later Hindu India. Draw attention the concentration of forms and economics of elements that do not result in detrimental to the quality or durability of the building. They already reflect the concept of Hindu, totally different from the Buddhist pilgrimage Temple’s. This new religious form starts to raise to a higher category all those popular cults that Buddhism had been abolished; by channeling them through devotional novel presentation that can be called now as neobrahamanismo.

    The Hindu Temple is conceived as a dwelling place of God on earth, and any volume or decorative element is depending on their spiritual nature rather than some others like utility or even aesthetic. The temple at Deogarh dedicated to Vishnu, along with the contemporaries of Sanchi, Ter, Chezarla and Aihole, constitute the first constructions in stone of India.

    Spatial structure inside the Hindu Temple is formed by:

    -The lobby.

    -The Prayer Hall.

    -The Chapel of the God.

    They concede great importance to the progression of light ranging from the one that comes from the outdoor porch to the dark room of the Holy chamber inside; as well as taking into account the gradation in heights of the covers that goes from the lower height of the porch, to the highest (sikara) on the Holy chamber. They reflect the concept of Hinduism sacredness which stipulates that the most sacredness places in the temple has to be darkness and greater in height.


    Kailasnadha Temple. Kamchipuram.India


    Dravidian Architecture of India.

    In what constitutes the southern triangle of the Hindustan peninsula, developed the more purely Hindu Indian style, Dravidian, from which we have received genuine works of art from the VII century d. C. The main type of these temples has a square plant from whose ritual centre all architectural elements are diffused.

    The cover with a pyramidal shape, allows to reach any height by simple multiplication of the number of floors in a staggered way, they end with an architectural element known as stupika (referring to the celestial Vault), recalling in its form to a huge fungus. These staggered roofs can reach spectacular heights, solving the problems of the verticality of the structure based on small buttresses to reinforce it, repeating the shape of the stupika as well as the vaults known as kudu as necessary.

    This temples stratified appearance evokes a mountainous appearance, can be seen much better from the height and appreciate the perfect combination of geometric shapes that conform a Mandala. The temple achieves that come together harmoniously the rigorous rules and commandment of earthly ritual with the cosmological features.

    Mahalabipuram temples.India


    If you look from the architectural point of view, this constructive harmony has its advantages, because this formula can take any measure (on ground or raised) by a simple multiplication of horizontal or vertical elements. The tendency to multiply the floors in Dravidian covers denotes the conception of religious and philosophical believe behind it where the floors are reflecting the multiplicity of names of the God who is worships in the temple.

    The analysis of the Dravidian temples’ plant presents a labyrinth called “Mandala” that power cosmic energy of God. These architectural ensembles have the walls decorated with alternating pilasters and figures in high relief, representing the God in different postures. Examples of important Dravidian temples are the five structures called Rathas in Mahabalipuram.




    Located in Tamil Nadu, the Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur was constructed by the great Raja Raja Chola ruler of the Chola dynasty in the tenth century A.D. He commissioned  this work to achieve personal good Karma, according to their belief their successful reincarnation depend on  the magnitude of the offers; in this case this magnificent example of the architecture of the Dravidian temple that was left for posterity which is erected by his personal diligence.

    India architecture in the Mughal period.

    Architecture in this period summarizes and mixes together the artistic forms of construction coming from the prolific Islam culture with the one existing in India, creating a very ornate and exuberant style that represents the vitality of the Mughal Empire. Its splendor is seen irrefutable in buildings in Fatehpur Sikri, which was capital of Akbar for a time, near the Agra region.


    Jai Grudev Temple. Mathura. Uttar Pradesh. India


    This resulting fusion of architecture styles, combining Islamic elements as it is the case of the vaults, bows, ruffles and minarets, the use of marble, either in tablets or in mosaics, the frequent use of courtyards, whose use was indispensable in the dynamics of these buildings, along with constructive strength, the use of smooth stone and the Indian ornamental decoration.

    From this period of boom of Mughal architecture is the incomparable Palace of the Taj Mahal, which was built by the fifth Emperor Mughal, Shah Jahan in memory of his second wife Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian Princess whose husband loved deeply and who died giving birth to their son number fourteen, a girl.

    This Palace of great beauty and majestic presence has been a monument to the love through time and a symbol of the pomp and quality of India architecture. It was designed by Iranian architect Istad Usa. The construction of the beautiful mausoleum began in 1631 and took 22 years to complete.


    Taj Mahal.India


    This magnificent building which has been declared world heritage is visited by millions of people every year.

    The next post will be about the textiles in India important artistic expression that became a demanded and appreciated industry for them.


  • Paint in ancient India


    India dance


    Paint in ancient India.


    When it comes to the India’s paint we all should keep in mind that this is a very vast region that received influences from other cultures, Indian artist develop their art and general culture traditions according to historical moments and religious situation that unfolded differently in each region.

    At different periods in the long history of ancient painting in India, we see that the result of this amalgam of cultures, religions, politics and social castes, as well as the performance of economic development in each region, defined pictorial trends and development of different techniques according to their origin, it also offers some common implementation features.

    India’s paint. Prehistoric stage

    Cave paintings representations traces have been found at Bhimbetka; close to the Bhopal area in approximately thousand caves that establish the emergence of ancient paints in India. The date set for these caves dates back to the Paleolithic period (7000 BC). In that remote time the inhabitants of this area were still forming the bases of the civilization and however already  pictorial realization are done on the walls of these dark caves used also as protection from the weather and animals.

    Depictions of stylized human figures using simple strokes in their paints, shown how they participate in hunting activities, which according to their beliefs conducive to good hunting and the abundance of food. The shape of the animals is done more robust also using strokes that try to give a feeling of volume, being the themes throughout predominantly with animal figures.


    prehistoric paint with hunting scene

    These paintings also represent dances, scenes of births and burials, propitiatory religious rites were they supplicate to their ancient gods been favorate with better weather conditions that would allow proper food recollection and hunting journeys. The typical fauna which chronologically corresponded with this period of prehistory in India were widely represented, where elephants, Tigers, rhinos and bison can be appreciated in these paintings which are still preserved.

    Religious believe representation in the plastic art of ancient India.

     The painting workshop in India was organized according to different levels of specialization and expertise. The work of artist was determined by the family tradition or belonging to a particular caste and used to be anonymous in those ancient history periods.

    In the ancient painting of India especially in the flourish period of Hinduism and them further on; often deities are represented with multiple arms, especially when they are engaged in combat using its cosmic form for the destruction of powerful forces of evil. The multiplicity of arms highlights the immense power of the deity and their ability to perform various act or achievement involving courage, skill, or strength at the same time. Indian artist leans to representations of this kind of multi limbed creatures since they constitute a simple and also effective means of expressing the omnipresence and omnipotence of a deity.


    hinduism mystic legends representation in paints


    Demons are often symbolized with multiple heads to indicate their superhuman powers but the occasional representation of a deity with more than one head is generally motivated by a desire to portray different aspects of the character of that deity. So, when Lord Shiva is depicted with a triple head, the central face indicates its essential character and the remaining faces represent the aspects of ferocity and happiness.


    Painting in Ajanta Cave narrating the Jatakas tales of Budda


    Symbolic and narrative style that make up these paintings is effective for understanding the message by believers and worshippers, they are however as we had mentioned earlier; difficult to understand by the viewer not familiar with stories, rites and legends associated with these religions. In the case of the Buddhist painting the subject is limited to represent the Buddha-figure offering protection and spreading these teachings. Some images placed in the caves of Ajanta narrate the stories of the Jatakas; the famous tales based on the various incarnations of the Buddha and provide important historical and religious information. They are located in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India.


    painting at Ellora Cave with damages


    Paints made for the sacred lightings text in Indian’s temples.

    These were not only extremely beautiful and with high level of detail and finish but also, to order copies of these sacred lightings texts was a very important religious action since it increased good karma; concept based on the belief that all action (karma in Sanskrit) has its consequences.

    The tradition of illuminating manuscripts began to flourish in India around the 11th century, in Buddhist monasteries, where painted scenes that embellished the copies of the sacred texts facilitate meditation. Devoted people of Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism had these religious texts commissioned which then donated to temples to enhance their spiritual merits. The most ancient works of this genre were painted in palm leaves, using a horizontal format that it will remain even after entering paper in India.


    Iluminate manuscript made over palm leaves


    Until the 15th century Indian painters used a conservative and repetitive style, with a limited palette and low amplitude thematic; but this changed when the diffusion of illustration work in the workshops of the courts at the beginning of the 16th century.


    India paint representing Boons dispensed by Green Tara


    Local artists received formation there and the new Knowledge meant an enrichment of its work and that encouraged them to illustrate new texts, as the victories of the goddess Kali, devotional works to the god Krishna or philosophical texts. The thematic are expanded now in general, that now range from worldly affairs (with apparent insignificance), religious issues and the pictorial staging of legends and folk tales.


    paint showing Bizhan forcing Farus to retrieat


    The Lyric Period

    From the 15th century in India are elaborated the most popular Persian narrations commissioned by a clientele of elite formed by wealthy Persian families that seated here, they were not only seeking increase its spiritual merits but seeking as well to show these works as a sign of education, wealth and cultural sophistication along to enjoy them by the decorative function of visual delight.

    These carefully made pictures denote a sumptuousness that amazes spectators, one significant example is seen in one of the first works that was illustrated in the India and that was a version of the Khamsa, a set of five Persian poems, written in the 13th century, the illustrations from this period are known as lyrics for their high poetic, epic and dramatic content very in tune with the influence of Persian art.


    watercolor from the Ramayana Manuscript


    Plastic art advances in the Mughal period.

    The painting of the period with the splendor of the Mughal Empire has left as a legacy one of the best known representations of Indian art. The Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) was partly responsible for this explosion of magnificence; he contracted hundred of talented Indian’s artists so they will work in the imperial workshop under the direction of seven painters from the Court of Iran. The works that the artists of this group jointly conducted was subdued by the realism imposed by the taste of the Emperor and constitute an excellent set that reveals a new style, endowed with a vitality without precedent that deviates from the traditional and already repetitive schematics  themes of previous styles.


    Painting of ancient India


    This sumptuous painting is characterized by its bright colors’, its incredible attention to detail and graphical richness. These stories captivated the powerful Mughal emperors of India and their courtier’s circles. Mainly under the tutelage of the Mughal Emperor Akbar in the 16th century as well as its successors, some painters came to highlight and their work was very much appreciated by collectors.


    Indian and Inan artists work collectively in the Mughal period


    Both Akbar and his successors in power became interested in the European prints that 16th century Jesuit missionaries lead to India. Those prints, as well as the emergence of Mongol paintings in the Europe of the 18th century conducted to the incorporation of oriental elements in Western painting and served of course also as inspiration to the Indian artists who takes advantage of this aesthetic and stylistic interchanges that helped shape Indian painting as it is today.




    The “East Indian Company” commissioned plastic art productions.

    Works made by Indian artists for British merchants, science investigators as well as for officials matters linked to the East Indies Company, reflect the interest in methods of scientific research generalized in eighteenth-century Europe, Indian artist were commissioned to reproduce realistic examples of local flora and fauna and portraits of distinguish personalities.

    Indian artists adapted very well to the new challenges and interpreted the forms of the European artistic conventions such as; shading, perspective and a discreet chromatics palette, as well as a sense of estrangement between the spectator and the work. These paintings with interest in the animal genre continue for a long time.


    animal theme representation during the east Indian Company dominance


    During this period emerge an interest towards the portrait representation, tendency that helps to document people and important events. The portrait style Cameo become a very popular and demanded commission art , until the demand for this type of work declined from 1848, when the East India Company began to dissolve and a new medium, photography almost  replaced in large part the painting as a procedure for documenting people and places of the now officially-colony of the British Empire.


    Most common painting features develop in India through time.

    – The adaptive capacity of its artists.

    – Their love for nature and animals.

    – The attention to detail in their work.

    – The use of incredible Visual games between the elements of the group.

    – Most frequent use of the three-dimensional volume instead of chiaroscuro.

    – Realist and naturalist shaded drawn.


    India painting from the Museum for Sacred art



  • Ceramic and pottery in the ancient art of India.

    Krishna killing the horse demond

    Ceramics and pottery in the ancient art of India

    About the beginnings of the ceramic in the ancient art of India highlight the Neolithic period in which develops what may be called the first great civilization between 2500 and 1500 BC in the area which is known as “River Indus area” covering what is today Pakistan and also the northeast of India. This area was exploited widely by its inhabitants who developed a large number of items intended for the settlement and bearing capacity of the population.

    Since ancient times the Hindu River constituted an important trade route between the Mediterranean area and what is known as the Far East. From the Neolithic period have been found utensils made in materials such as quartzite and Flint which have been carved to adapt them better to more manageable and useful ways. Draw attention from this period the black and Red pottery in Adichanallur and also in the Brahmagiri area.

    Types of pottery of the Neolithic age in India

    – Red ceramic, area of the Rajasthan Banas (Hematite).

    – Grey pottery from the basin of the Ganges.

    – Polished black pottery found in the area of Jariana and Delhi.

    At the beginning of the 6th millennium BC were built in the Hindu River bank houses of adobe (mud bricks), the pottery in this period was obtained from materials that are naturally found in the area and was primarily aimed at practical applications to contain liquids such as water, oils and fats of animals as well as for the production of utensils for cooking and eating. Several containers to hold grain and small seed in unglazed ceramic clay with little or no decoration have been found as well.


    Ceramic of Lotal. Hindus Valley


    Others vessels from the collection obtained have geometric; animals and plants decorations that were apparently intended in some cases for rituals. There are also ceramics whose form seems to intend more everyday use as a personal object like some ceramic toys From Mohenjo Daro and Harappa.

    The Indo Valley ceramic’s style was extended by the whole area of South Asia and as the time was by influenced also the style of the entire region. Ceramics in the form of cups, dishes for serving food and also some vessels with inscriptions in Indian writing (as the one of Ras al – Junayz) clearly show how important the ceramic and pottery was in the everyday life of this ancient civilization.

    Ceramic with commercial porpoise was recovered as well, these objects include the jars, probably intended to contain wine for what have been suggested a specific production destined to satisfy the demand of these ceramics objects in viticulture.


    ancient ceramic toys from Hindus River. India


    Cities of India that stand out in the production of pottery in this period

    – Sorath Harappa in Gujarat.

    – Mohenjo Daro.

    – Harappa.

    – Balakot.

    – Dholavira.

    – Miri Qalet

    – Nausharo

    – Sotkah Koh.

    Figurines of terracotta depicting female figures appeared in the area of Harappa and were more stylized than the old and bulky goddesses of fertility. Necklaces and inlays of precious metals were found in some of them.

    Other handicraft objects are preserved such as; reproductions of miniature carts; sculptures with figures of animals like for example: rhinos, tigers, monkeys, elephants and buffaloes. They have been recovered in fairly good condition despite been so old.


    Decorated ceramic from ancient India


    Manufactured in a material apparently coming from the ground dirt steatite (also known as talc) were found in the form of tablets and their use is presumed could have been some sort of seal, the material they were made was molded and heated baked it to hardens and them cover with lacquer. They have representations of various animals and fantastic monsters in it, whose realism and detail reveals the influence of Mesopotamian culture.

    Since the destruction of the cities of the Indus around the 3rd century BC, practically has not been found anything in the ceramics of the India. It’s a gap in the history of art that is very difficult to clarify by scholars of the art of India, coincides with the so called Veda period.

    With progressing of time and constant cultural exchanges the ceramics in ancient India was enriched and evolved turning out to be very much appreciated. Its uses were expanded and their techniques were enriched up to the point of been consider great skilled. The great number of handicrafts, as well as varied designs found, showed that this ceramics industry was very important in agriculture or metallurgy in the 6th century. With the emergence of Jainism and Buddhism takes up again the ceramic a boom.



    Terracota objects from India


    India unglazed ceramic

    It is the oldest form of ceramic practiced in India, many of the evidence of these vessels were found even from the early days of the development of ceramics in this region and shows that it was widely used in different historical periods as well.

    Ceramics without glazing.

    • The ceramic with thin layer, where the pottery is decorated with incisions of drawings.
    • The technique of Sgraffito, (a painting technique where the artist scratches into the top layer of the paint to reveal areas of the surface underneath). The vase is polished and decorated with Engobe (white or colored slip applied to pottery for decoration or to improve the surface texture). Liquid red and white ceramic along with intricate patterns are applied while the contour has incisions.
    • The third is the ceramic highly polished, with strong and deep incisions of stylized an intricate symmetrical design incorporating often curves, geometric patterns, leaves, flowers, and animal shapes patterns. The ceramic without glazing is practiced throughout the country; each region has its own specialty. The Black pottery is another form of unglazed ceramic which resembles the Harrappan ceramic style.

    India glazed ceramic

    The time of glazed ceramics in India began in the 12th century, when Muslim rulers encouraged potters from the East to settle in. Examples of fine glazed ceramics of Persian models with Indian designs have a great beauty and detail in the finish. This technique adopted since them by Indian potters was and still is very popular and very well commercially appreciated.

    This type of ceramic with the characteristic of a white background on which the designs are in colors such as blue and green constitute a true works of art. They also used figurative, geometric designs or combination of both.

    India Terracotta

    Terracotta is medium reddish clay used in pottery and construction of buildings. This is the most famous and common style of ceramic that has been practiced in the India since ancient times.

    The following areas are the ones to highlight in the production of Terracotta.

    – Bihar.

    – Bengal

    – Gujarat,

    Women are usually the one which prepare during the holidays the clay figures for the rituals to ask for favors’ of their gods and goddesses.

    Moela in Rajasthan area has its own distinctive style of pottery; here the local deities are created with clay molded on a flat surface, which is painted with bright colors after cooked.

    Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh area, here potters create individually the parts of an object on the pottery wheel and then join them creating a single piece. After this process they give the finished details with the application of colors.

    Two important Indian artists in Terra cotta:

    – The artist Potter Tamil Nadu which is famous for its terracotta figures of the deity Ayyanar.

    – The artist Potter Gujarat who makes votive figures like horses with riders among others.

    Paper Mache

    Indian craftsmen carefully created numerous motifs and designs with Paper Mache, intricate and beautifully they made a variety of hand-crafted items for decoration and devotion using this technique. Although invented in China was also widely used in India since the time it was adopted in this country during the Mughal dynasty (15 to 16 Centuries).

    The basis of this pottery is thick paper paste made mashed and mixed with copper sulfate and rice flour paste. The mold is covered with a thin paper and layer of this mixture. After drying the decorators outline designs and finally it is lacquered and polished by applying bright colors. A touch of golden color is always in them as reminiscent of the roots of Persian design. This type of pottery is very much appreciated in India and each region has native peculiar features.

    Red sandstone sculptures in India

    Red sandstone is a sediment rock composed of grains of sand (quartz) cemented together with other materials such as: silica, iron oxide, clay and calcite. In India this sculpture reach mastery skills by the artisans in the Budhist period, remarkable sculpture aimed to religious rituals and veneration crowd India’s regions and were exported to Asia as well.


    Sand stone and Paper Mache objects from India