Indian art, term for the art of India, which today, after around 200 years of archaeological and art-historical research, is one of the most important complexes of world art.
In a broader sense, Indian art is the art that has been created on the Indian subcontinent, especially in today’s states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well as partly in Afghanistan and Nepal in more than four millennia, depending on the landscape and cultural phase and religious affiliation has different, but mostly related works.
The vast majority of Indian art is religious. Her outstanding achievements are the visualization of the most intimate contemplation (as in the Buddha images) as well as the representation of dynamic movement, especially dance, but also erotic poses (erotic art). Associated with the spread of Buddhism and Hinduism across parts of Central, East and Southeast Asia, Indian art largely influenced the art of these countries.
According to pharmacylib, the earliest artifacts, which come from the northwest of the Indian subcontinent (Harappa culture), had no influence on further development. Therefore, Indian art in the narrower sense encompasses the archaic to the classical (3rd century BC to 6th century AD) as well as the late classical-medieval styles (7th-13th centuries) with the main works of the Buddhist and Jainist styles and Hindu art in various regional forms. Since the 12./13. The Indo-Islamic period (excluding parts of South India as well as Sri Lanka and Nepal) began in the 19th century, with its peak in the Mughal period, followed by the modern era, which was shaped by European influences.
Architecture and sculpture
Around 600 BC, the “northern black polished ware”, a fine ceramic with a shiny metallic coating, prevailed over older forms (India, history). Religious art has been around since the 4th century BC. To count mostly female terracotta statuettes, probably originating from the folk cults, initially hand-formed, later partly modeled. Their stylistic characteristics (jewelry applications, eye shape) point to the emergence of local art schools such as Mathura. The first monumental sculptural and architectural works of Indian art were left behind by the Maurya ruler Ashoka. These are the highly polished monolithic edict columns made of cunar sandstone with bell capitals and crowning animal figures of the highest plastic maturity (lion capital from Sarnath) as well as the Barabar caves with the same polish, created or influenced by Persian-Achaemenid artists.
Early Buddhist / early Hindu period
Under the dynasties of the Shunga of Magadha and Ujjain, the Mitra of Mathura and the early Satavahana of Andhra, the archaic artistic styles of the Buddhist stupas of Bharhut and Pauni (both 2nd century BC) and the stupas of Sanchi (beginnings in the 2nd century BC), the cave structures of Bhaja and Pitalkhora with the earliest caitya halls and viharas (monasteries), on whose facades large-format rock reliefs depict predominantly mythological scenes, and the first stone cult images of Hindu art (including the Balarama in Mathura) as well as the folk religions (Yakshas and Nagas).
While Buddhist relief art conveyed religious teachings and legends (Jatakas), but dispensed with the anthropomorphic representation of the Buddha, in Hinduism the images of gods with their characteristic iconographic attributes, hand and arm positions (mudra), symbolic animals (Vahana) or the like in the center of artistic creation. Presumably, folk-cult Hindu temple buildings made of perishable materials or open places of worship served to accommodate cult images of the time. Characteristics of the archaic sculpture style are block-like, yet vital body shapes, angular poses and flat modeling of the faces as well as a flat relief cut. The clothes and jewelry of the figures were shown in detail, tendrils and lotus rosettes have been the decorative elements on stupa fences that have been common since then.
The phase of the early Satavahanas and Kshatrapas from the end of the 1st century BC. Until the 1st / 2nd The century AD led to the development of late archaic rock architecture and sculpture in the N-Dekhan (e.g. Karla, Nasik and Kanheri), the stupa buildings in eastern Andhra (Amaravati) and the establishment of the Hindu cult of images. Shiva and later also Vishnu emerged as the main deities. Theologically complex cult images emerged such as the five-headed Shiva (Pancavaktra) from Bhita (Uttar Pradesh), the linga with Shiva figure from Gudimallam (Andhra Pradesh). Parallel to this development, the first anthropomorphic images of the Buddha and Mahavira appeared in the previously aniconical art of the Buddhists and Jainas, which only knew symbols of the revered being, the founder of the Jain religion, on relief panels. The turn to image worship, which was significant for the rest of India’s cultural history, was accompanied by a less archaic new plastic style, which is characterized by swelling body shapes. In Mathura, many fragments of sculptures and buildings, some with donor inscriptions from the Kshatrapa, testify to the artistic boom.
Kushana Period (around 2nd to 3rd centuries AD)
In the two art centers Mathura and Gandhara, the early Hindu, Jain and Buddhist cult of images came to full fruition. Gandhara, a region in northwest Pakistan, produced almost exclusively Buddhist art. Cult images and scene reliefs of the Buddha legend worked in gray slate as well as syncretistic protective deities of Bactrian-Indian origin were used to furnish the cult facilities. The technique of stucco and clay sculpture and wall painting on plaster was mainly used in brick buildings, which came to Afghanistan (Hadda, Termes) via Gandhara and to Central Asia in the following centuries, taking up Iranian-Sassanid influences (Bamian, Fondukistan).
The Gandhara art, influenced by western antiquity, represented a special development within Indian art. Stylistically, it had no far-reaching consequences for Indian art, but it did for the Buddhist art of Central Asia that emerged in the subsequent period. In Mathura, on the other hand, cult images of purely Indian characteristics were made from the reddish Sikris sandstone in the service of all Indian religions. From the need for iconographic diversity and according to theological regulations, the sometimes multi-headed and multi-armed Hindu images of gods with their characteristic features as well as the images depicted in canonical standing (sthanakamurti) and sitting postures (asana) as well as meditation gestures(mudras) emerged Buddhas and Mahaviras or the five transcendent Buddhas (Jinas, Tathagata). Outside the Kushana empire, Amaravati and Nagarjunikonda emerged as art centers and radiated out to the Buddhist art of Sri Lanka.