The origin of fine arts in India goes a long way back. India being a rich culture, the fine arts dates back to the beginning of civilization itself. India is known for its vivid history, co-existent plentiful of religions and path breaking philosophies. The importance of art has always constituted the fulcrum of India’s social and cultural hierarchies. As India’s history is segmented into various periods, similarly art in ancient India too is classified in accordance with those periods. Periods like, Hinduism and Buddhism, Islamic era, pre-independence period, post independence period and modern era. Every period has its unique blend of wonderful exhibition of Indian art. With changing times and changing periods, the form of art has also changed and every time it has managed to surpass the glorious works of previous age.
Art in ancient India began with rock paintings done by primitive men and women in their caves. When historians studied the remains of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, they formed an impression of a highly accomplished and intelligent culture. A heightened sense of aesthetic awareness and accomplished craftsmanship was visible in the architecture and artifacts found during excavations on these sites. The Harappan seals also revealed a detailed understanding of human and animal anatomy on deep study. The tradition of symbolism in Indian art was also clear from them.
Ancient India figure sculpture art form was first discovered in the famous figure of a dancing girl. This piece of sculpture was recovered through excavations in Mohenjodaro. The use of symbols in art forms was popular at this time. Symbols were rampantly used as tools of artistic ex-pression to visualize abstract thought and spiritual philosophy.
Ancient Indian temple architecture, murals, sculptures and paintings are also treasures, which mirror the nature of ancient Indian art. Fire altars, which were erected in temples during the Vedic period, are considered brilliant, in terms of mathematical and astronomical demonstrations. They depict a high degree of intellectual knowledge and aesthetic sensitivity at the same time.
In ancient India, each phase was unique in the field of architecture, painting, literature and art. Different influences both external and internal drove the evolution of Indian art from time to time and place to place. Hindus, Buddhists, Mughals and the British, all ruled over India in different phases and influenced its art. The paintings depicted in the caves of Ajanta and Ellora are the signing example of rich legacy of Indian paintings. Few of the paintings have been found in stone-carved forms in the Stone Age, popularly known as pre-historic age. Paintings are one of the foremost platforms for uninhibited artistic ex-pression.
Multiple invasions and intercultural exchanges gave Indian art vast scope for change and development. Ancient Indian religion with its deep-rooted tradition of visual philosophy also shapes its art in a diverse pattern, which was as varied as the Indian landscape. This resulted in a unique art, which was imaginative, humanizing and spiritual..
Indian art has kept evolving over thousands of years. Ancient India is credited to develop fascinating art forms like painting, dancing and sculpture etc. Probing further, we find the origin of ancient Indian art goes back to prehistoric rock paintings. We find excellent demonstration of town planning in Harappa and Mohenjodaro. Thinking of it, our ancestors were much more evolved and advanced as far as architecture is concerned. One of the famous archaeological discoveries was of a dancing girl from Mohenjodaro. It was an extraordinary example of sculpture in ancient India. Each era in the Indian history is unique as far as art is concerned.
A crucial period in the ancient India was dedicated to rock-cut caves and temple architecture. Places like Elephanta, Ajantha, Ellora, Salsette, Mahabalipuram and Aurangabad etc are blessed with rock-cut caves. Buddhists, Hindus and Jains were at the forefront of creation of these caves. Indian people were always great admirers of different art forms. The fact that different art forms managed to survive and evolve during the course of Indian history tells a lot about importance of art in India. Indian artists always had great artistic sensibilities. It is evident in the way human and animal figures have been carved and chiselled. The terracotta and bronze sculptures further testify to this fact.
Ancient Indian art forms are not just restricted to architecture, painting and sculpture. Folk and tribal art tradition in India is a wonderful example of culture and tradition of different social groups of India. Despite the onslaught of modernity, these traditions have managed to retain their essence and charm. What is most appealing about tribal art is that it is attuned to the rhythms of the nature. These art forms are simple expression of people that were further developed by fairs and festivals. The tribal art is based on local deities, myths, legends and epics. In that way, tribal art symbolises mutual dependency and co-existence of life and creativity. It is not merely an art for tribal people. It is in fact, a way of life that they live.
The arrival of different cultures on the Indian Territory further enriched the beautiful ancient Indian art. Right from the very beginning, India has always attracted foreign influences. Many of them stayed here long enough to find themselves assimilated with actual Indian culture and that explains variations found in the landscape of Indian art. Indian art form accepted the best of these cultures and that resulted in a completely new form of art. Persian and Mughal art is fine example of such historical events.
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