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Indian Art - Aesthetics and Symbolism

            Indian Art has been through many winds of change. Artwork from the earliest Indus Valley civilizations and the Harappan period spawned a revolutionary new wave, thus inspiring many to carry on the somewhat crude (to western eyes) but amazing blend of skill, mastery and imagination that became the hallmark of popular Indian folk art. This essay will highlight some of the aesthetic differences of Indian and Western art, from a technical, stylistic and symbolic point of view. The principles of beauty and artistic taste of early Indian art, and indeed its people, from the simplest commoner to the highest ruler are close to the polar opposite of what its perceived to be in the west. Where there was the seemingly super-human alpha male, pale white muscular statues of Greco-Roman gods who are seemingly perfect in proportion, towering intimidatingly over land or sea and exercising their right to power with the very wrath they ensue with their scepters and command of the elements, there was also the effeminate, somewhat 'queer' overweight, heavily adorned and often seated depiction of Hindu gods in Indian art. One might argue that what inspired this unique and indeed very 'human' depiction of Indian deities based on their personality is their concept of RASA (sentiments) and BHAVA (emotions). .
             Traditionally, western aesthetics are based on a certain idiosyncratic creative flair and goal of awe and inspiration. On a personal artists' level, there's a strong sense of self-gratification and celebration, attaching themselves to their work. The RASA theory on the other hand, relies on the fact that any creative form of expression is to spiritually transcend their individual self and achieve a state of liberation (Moksha) via a state of pure bliss (Ananda), brought out by desire (Kama) and form (Rupa). Through emotion (Bhava) for your duty as an artist combined with the relevant technical skill/knowledge attained from a teacher (Guru), the artist is supposed to experience one of the nine RASAs (tastes, sentiments) and execute the work.

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