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Indian Art

Lively colors and textures suggest the abundance of nature.



India’s climate is varied. Life is different in the tropical lowlands than on the dry plains or in the Himalayan foothills. But plentiful fruits, flowers, animals, and birds have been a sign of health and good fortune across India since ancient times.

Indian art commonly captures a feeling of nature’s bounty. Even stone sculptures are full of details. Many of them, now the gray of plain stone, would have been painted bright colors. Seen in a temple or shrine, the sculptures would be draped with dazzling fabrics. Cloth hangings, like the one shown here, would brighten doorways and walls.

The gods are responsible for the generosity of nature. In return, the faithful leave plentiful offerings of each god’s favorite foods at their temples. These offerings are an important part of worship for Hindus and Jains. In a way, the lively colors and textures of the art in a temple are like offerings for the eyes.

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1. The blue-skinned god Krisha receives offerings from his followers in a lush landscape. (Click on the image for a larger view.)
2. Every inch of this stone arch has carvings that almost seem to pulse with life.
3. Goddesses play an important role in Hindu beliefs. They usually have large breasts and a small waist, a reminder of the fertility of the earth.


January 2004