I meet a fine Lady, too late in my life Can play an ugly part To entice and excite my loins Dr.
Will Durant American historian has written glowingly about Hindu art: From the time of Mohenjodaro to the present, through the vicissitudes of five thousand years, India has been creating its peculiar type of beauty in a hundred arts.
The record is broken and incomplete, not because India ever rested, but because war and the idol-smashing ecstasies of Moslems destroyed uncounted masterpieces of building and statuary, and poverty neglected the preservation of others.
Probably no other nation known to us has ever had so exuberant a variety of arts. At Elephanta the Portuguese certified their piety by smashing statuary and bas-reliefs in unrestrained barbarity; and almost everywhere in the north the Moslems brought to ground those triumphs of Indian architecture, of the 5th and 6th centuries, which tradition ranks as far superior to the later works that arouse our wonder and admiration today.
The Moslems decapitated statues, and tore them limb from limb; they appropriated for their mosques, and in great measure imitated, the graceful pillars of the Jain temples. Ferguson had counted some thirty southern temples any one of which, in his estimate, must have cost as much as an English cathedral.
Here, Ferguson adds, "the artistic combination of horizontal and vertical lines, and the play of outline and of light and shade, far surpass anything in Gothic art.
The effects are just what the medieval architects were often aiming at, but which they never attained so perfectly as was done at Halebid. But this was a common achievement of the Hindu artisans. At Ellora, a place of religious pilgrimage.
Here the tireless builder cut a hundred feet down into the stone to isolate the block - by feet - that was to be the temple; then they carved the walls into powerful pillars, statues and bas-reliefs; then they chiseled out of the interior, and lavished there the most amazing art: Finally, their architectural passion still unspent, they carved a series of chapels and monasteries deep into the rock of three sides of the quarry.
Richard Lannoy - author of several books including, The Speaking Tree: A Study of Indian Culture and Society has pointed out that the caves of India are the most singular fact about Indian art, and he is right, for they serve to distinguish it from that of other civilizations. These sanctuaries were cut from nearly-perpendicular cliffs to a depth of a hundred feet: The two largest structures of the kind are staggering in their dimensions.
He was perhaps the first European to boldly proclaim his Hinduness.
He had a wide effect upon Europe's understanding of Hinduism. He must concentrate his vision and his thought on the magic diagram or yantras, till he perceives through the geometrical outlines the form he is to sculpture.
This concentration of the artist is one of the highest and completest form of concentration. Glimpses of Indian Culture - By Dr.
Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Indian art historian, a remarkable critic, scholar and mystic, late curator at the Boston Museum, who dazzled the Western world with his message concerning the spiritual greatness of Indian art.
A pioneer historian of Indian art and foremost interpreter of Indian culture to the West. The outstanding distinction lies in the fact that Buddhist doctrine is propounded by an apparently historical founder.
Beyond this there are only broad distinctions of emphasis.
An enormous moat, twelve miles in length, surrounds the temple; over the moat runs a paved bridge guarded by dissuasive Nagas in stone; then an ornate enclosing wall; then spacious galleries, whose relief's tell again the tales of the Mahabharata and Ramayana; then the stately edifice itself, rising upon a broad base, by level after level of a terraced pyramid, to the sanctuary of the god, two hundred feet high.
Here magnitude does not detract from beauty, but helps it to an imposing magnificence that startles the Western mind into some weak realization of the ancient grandeur once possessed by Oriental civilization.
The Dance of Siva: In the process of comparing both the European and Oriental traditional philosophy of art, a task, it would seem, which had convinced him of the perennial value of the traditional point of view since the works of art as in the case of the Indian sub-continent and its environs appeared to him to endure and increase in value down through the ages.
Tenth century Hindustan was also too far advanced than its contemporaries in the East and the West for its achievements in the realms of speculative philosophy and scientific theorizing, mathematics and knowledge of nature's workings. Hindus of the early medieval period were unquestionably superior in more things than the Chinese, the Persians including the Sassaniansthe Romans and the Byzantines of the immediate preceding centuries.
The followers of Siva and Vishnu on this subcontinent had created for themselves a society more mentally evolved - joyous and prosperous too - than had been realized by the Jews, Christians, and Muslim monotheists of the time.
Medieval India, until the Islamic invaders destroyed it, was history's most richly imaginative culture and one of the five most advanced civilizations of all times. No artists of any historical civilization have ever revealed the same genius as ancient Hindustan's artists and artisans.
Ernest Binfield Havell principal to the Madras College of Art in the s and left as principal of the Calcutta College of Art some 20 years later. His major ideas about Indian art theory are to be found in his two works, Indian Sculpture and Painting and, more important, The Ideals of Indian Art The Ideals of Indian Art was written with the express purpose of changing the prevailing European indifference to Indian art and bringing about a proper appreciation of its aesthetic qualities.
Only an infinitesimal number of Europeans, even of those who pass the best part of their lives in India, make any attempt to understand the philosophic, religious, mythological and historical ideas of which Indian art is the embodiment.About the Author Randall Englund RANDALL L ENGLUND, M.B.A.
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