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Styles & Periods
Indian Art

Art of the Indian subcontinent reflects the environments of the massive Himalayas, the fertile Indus and Ganges river valleys, and the tropical, forested Indian peninsula. Climate ranges from tropical to glacial, and Indian civilization spans 5,000 years. Indian art is an amalgamation of indigenous and outside influences, and is the cultural repository of one of the world’s oldest and most complex civilizations. Indian art amazes, not only in its diversity, but also in its continuity. India was the birthplace of Buddhism in the sixth century B.C.E. Buddhism has deeply impacted art, not only in India, but the world over. Stupas were erected to hold sacred relics, and sculptures in stele form depicted the seated Buddha. Hinduism eventually dwarfed Buddhism’s influence in India. Hindus erected great cave and rock temples, such as Elephanta, in the sixth century, and Hindu art spread to the south. The Moslem invasion of India inhibited the development of Hindu architecture after the 13th century, but revitalized painting, as Indian artists reveled in the interplay between foreign influences. This is most evident in the paintings at Punjab, which celebrate Krishna, an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. In these paintings, the love of the lush and the sensuous, first found in ancient Indian sculpture, reach full fruition. The paintings demonstrate elements of spiritual and earthly love so important to Indian cultures, and the sinuous, luxuriant rendering of the human figure is unparalleled. The sensuousness, continuity, balance, diversity and spontaneity of Indian cultures are all expressed in its various art forms.

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