Indian art is a subject
which shows the maximum
creative endeavour of the
Indian mind and hands. It
has a long history and is a
subject of great importance
as expressing the soul of
india. Indian art was late
in coming to its own on the
stage of world art but now
its form and meaning have
established themselves in
the eyes of both scholars
and lovers of beauty.
According to the author
Indian art is to be studided
at two different levels, viz-
external form and inner
meaning. By looking at
these two with equal insight
one may be able to recover
the true significance of the
Indian mind as expressed
The surviving records of Gupta civilisation present to us a brilliant
picture of advancement in literature, religion, philosophy, social and
human ideals, and none the least in art, which ensemble is a mirror
of all that was graceful, elegant, sweet and noble in that culture. The
glories of the Gupta age have been made permanent through the visible
creations of its atts. Forno other period of Indian history is the cultural
material so rich and so amply documented in its literature and art as
for this age. The period of three centuries, circa 325—650 A. D., witnessed
an unprecedented artistic activity in India revealed through some of the
most beautiful creations of art. Following a period of strenuous effort
art now attained a higher status and form with the tremendous outburst of creative activity that gave birth to a national style of art distinguished by common characteristics and activity from numerous centres.
Under the mighty and illustrious emperors of the Gupta dynasty—
Samudragupta (c. 325—375 A. D.), Chandragupta Vikramaditya (c. 375—
413 A. D.), Kumiaragupta (413—455 A. D. ), Skandagupta (455—467 A. D.)—
Indian literature, religion, art and culture attained the pinnacle of their
glory, and spread not only to every nook and corner of India, but
also outside, towards the north across the Himalayas into Central Asia,
and towards the south-east across the ocean into the islands of Indonesia
ot what was then known as Dvipantara. This cultural efflorescence—
accompanied by an economic prosperity — was the direct result of a spiritual earnestness the like of which had seldom been seen before in India.
It was an age of all-round perfection, in domestic life, in administration,
in literature, as seen in the works of Kalidasa, in art creations and in
religion and philosophy as exemplified in the widespread Bhagavata movement which identified itself with an intensive cult of beauty.
Various fine arts that constituted the life-breath of the people’s culture,
viz., sculpture, painting, poetry, drama, dance and music, all came to
have the stamp of a new aestheticism that demanded for an essential concord
of material and moral perfections.
The permanent spiritual values of life had been cast into an
aesthetic mould that we call art. Different forms of att, viz., sculpture,
painting and terracotta attained a maturity, a balance and a naturalness
of expression that have remained unexcelled. In this Golden Age of
Indian history—as the Gupta period is rightly styled—men and women
were deeply att-conscious; they evinced a passionate desite fot beautiful forms and shared in a universal activity to create what was noble and elevating. Some of our most beautiful monuments representing the
very acme of India’s artistic achievement are a cultural heritage of the
Gupta period. Amongst them the immortal Ajanta frescoes take precedence.
This all-embracing artistic activity covered almost the whole country.
New provincial centres, as Mathura, Sarnath, Pataliputra, became the seat
of the new intellectual and spiritual movement, and the economic prosperity of the age gave refreshing outlook on life and culture. The
Divydvadina pictures the continent of Jambiidvipat as the land of populous and peaceful cities teeming with happy millions, of vast and nume-
tous capitals, towns and villages separated by intervals of space hardly
greater than a cock’s flight.
Under ideal conditions of social and ‘political life art and culture
flourished as never before. The contemporary citizen lived and moved
‘in an abiding consciousness of beauty. His soul deeply moved by the
‘surrounding beauty of forms recreated the same effect of charm in
the visible symbols of art. Richly ornamented temples and sculptures,
images and terracottas, numerous as they are, impress us with the high
quality of their workmanship. Many details of Gupta life are preserved
‘in art, and great and small objects of stone and clay besides their moving loveliness also appear as documents of social culture.
Elegance and balance are the outstanding features of Gupta att.
There is nothing great ot small which the hands of the Gupta artist
touched and did not adorn. The great frescoes conceived and executed on an epic scale, and the charming and lyrical pieces of smaller terracottas, both were the results of a common art inspiration through
which the spirit of renaissance made itself eloquent. In this revival the
house and the monastery both played their part and vied, as it were,
with each other in creating and enshrining lovely objects, both as
articles of daily use and as images of deities for worship. The importance
of art and drama, dance and music in the lie-scheme of a people is
always a fascinating subject worthy of study, but seldom is its value
greater than for the Gupta period.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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