Ancient Indian art is religious in nature. Most of the murals, paintings, and sculptures convey a sense of religious study and invoke the gods and goddesses in their various forms. Ancient Indian literature is also religious in nature though there are points of divergence between Indian art and literature. As Basham (1954) points out, “ Indian literature was the product of men and women who lived ascetically and were in self-denial having given up worldly pleasures whereas Indian art was the product of artisans and secular craftsmen” . The latter though they worked under the guidance of priests and followed their instructions, loved the world with an intensity that reflected in the art forms that they were making.
The spirit of Indian art had much to do with the times that the artworks were made and they are as much a reflection of the ebb and tide of history as they are of the reigning deities of the time. Further, the art reflected the conceptions of beauty that the artisans and people felt for the inner truth that they were expressing.
As Nehru (2004) states, “ The ancient Indians loved beauty also, but they always sought to out some deeper significance in their work, some vision of the inner truth as they saw it” .The early period of Indian art is full of naturalism and a sense of belonging to nature and this may have been partly because of the influence of the Chinese on Indian culture. Thus, Indian art can be said to have been the expression of the higher selves of the artisans and their patrons. One striking feature of Indian art is the joy de Vivre expression that is manifest in the works and that says a lot about the Indian culture and history of those times.
In the next section, we look at Buddhist Art and discuss the same. The development of Buddhist art is marked by a series of phases which were characterized by evolution from “ happy fleshy figures with little spirituality about them, but later they developed in grace and religious feeling” (Brown, 1949).
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