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The Art of India

Taj Mahal


IAD's Art of India

IAD has received a lot of correspondence recently from India. India is now ranked #5 on the list of countries visiting IAD and the country deserves to have a page devoted to resources both online and on IAD. The art of India is unique, ornate, filled with bright colors, and rooted in religion and tradition. On this page you will learn about Indian art of the past as well as the present.


India on IAD

  • The Festival of Colours, (also called Holi) is a popular Hindu spring festival observed in India.

  • Puppetry in Indian History - The ancient village of Pinguli in the Konkan region of Maharashtra has been home for nearly five hundred years of a wide variety of ritual performance arts.

  • Art of India - Art teacher Sky McClain shows off her Art from India art show on IAD.

  • Gaurav Agrawal the Art Prodigy - High school art student from Raipur, India shows off his work.

  • Madhubani Wall Paintings - The Madhubani Painters are women from the Mathil region of India. This is a short lesson at the high school level.

  • Etching by Kowta Rammohan Sastri - Mr. Kowtasriprakasa from India e-mailed me a picture done by his deceased father, Kowta Rammohan Sastri.


Artist Dhananjay Mukherjee sent me this [above] as a sample of his work. He calls it The Tune of Green God. He lives in New Delhi, India. Contact him to purchase his paintings. (Click on the image for full size)


Brief History of India

The people of India have had a continuous civilization since 2500 B.C., when the inhabitants of the Indus River valley developed an urban culture based on commerce and sustained by agricultural trade. This civilization declined around 1500 B.C., probably due to ecological changes. [1]



Mahatma Gandhi by India artist Kowta Rammohan Sastri, 1905 -1976 (Submitted by Sriprakasa Kowta) Click on the image for full size.


The first British outpost in South Asia was established in 1619 at Surat on the northwestern coast. In 1857, Great Britain began administering most of India directly. Beginning in 1920, Indian leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress political party into a mass movement to campaign against British colonial rule.


On August 15, 1947, India became a dominion within the Commonwealth, with Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister. Enmity between Hindus and Muslims led the British to partition British India, creating East and West Pakistan, where there were Muslim majorities. This is one of the reasons for the current hostility between India and Pakistan. India became a republic after forming its constitution on January 26, 1950.

Four major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated in India and are still practiced today. Krishna and Radha are also practiced. (See paintings representing Krishna below) The Indian Constitution declares Hindi to be the official language of the Union. English enjoys a special status and remains the additional official language of India. Each state has its own official language. The 8th schedule of the Constitution of India lists 22 official regional languages.


Mohandas Gandhi (See image on the left) is often called Mahatma or "Great Soul." In India, he is also called Bapu and officially honored as the Father of the Nation. His birthday, October 2, is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Non-Violence.


Perhaps the best website on the internet we could find dealing with the history and culture of India is on PBS's The Story of India. You can find their section on the fine arts of India here. Their performing arts frequently overlaps the fine arts in India.


[ Indian Art and Culture | Folk Art | Textiles and Crafts | Contemporary Art | Lesson Plans ]


Art and Culture - Dance and Music


Krishna by Ramesh Gorjala, mixed media on canvas, 2009. Submitted by Sriprakasa Kowta. Contact Sriprakasa to purchase this painting. Click on the image for full size.


"The eighth incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, the preserver of the universe, Krishna is one of the most important and widely worshiped gods in India. In addition to being venerated as an avatar (human manifestation) of Vishnu, some traditions within Hinduism also acknowledge Krishna as the supreme being. Among the common representations of him is as a young man playing the flute and a baby stealing butter." [2]


Harappa is a great website featuring the Ancient Indus Civilization, with an introduction to the ancient Indus Valley civilization of the Bronze Age, (2600 to 1900 BC.) and includes over 1,200 illustrated pages. They are slowly converting their site to a new location and design. The new website looks like it will be a must-see site by teachers and homeschoolers when it is complete. The current site includes special sections on Images, Movies, Sounds, and Harappa and Mohenjo Daro. They also have a slide show, Around the Indus in 90 Slides, which includes an essay written by Jonathon Mark Kenoyer, and a brief tour. You can also see A Walk through Mohenjo Daro, Around the Indus in 90 Slides 2, and the Terra Cotta Figures from Harappa.


Harappā was an ancient civilization located in the Indus River Valley in Pakistan and dating back to before 2000 BC. Archaeologists have found the remains of a city and evidence of a possible link between Indian and Sumerian cultures.

Ancient India: Art and Archaeology- Monuments of India. Includes a lengthy index of monuments.

The Applied History of Art and Architecture Educational Foundation - Dr. Katherine Bolman's micro-lessons on ancient India. Very comprehensive!

Exploring Ancient Cultures - from University of Evansville -- introduction to ancient Indian history and culture.

Ancient India - Created by The William Penn Charter School Sixth Grade. Nice site for kids.

A Timeline of India- From Dr. Kamat's Potpourri. See also his Timeline of Indian Art. See other timelines for Indian culture

Brief introduction to India -- A concise history of India from InterKnowledge.

Art History Resources - Christopher Witcombe's page of resources on India.

Taj Mahal - This educational site includes the architecture, calligraphy, history, and garden of the Taj Mahal. See also the site by PBS.

Art of India - Visual and performing arts - a brief introduction. Comprehensive arts – painting, crafts, music, dance, performance. India from very early days, starting with the Indus period has boasted of a well developed heritage in all forms of arts, including architecture, literature, sculptures, painting, music, dance forms, and theatre.

Art From India (Archive) - This web site has been supported by the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia. Choose a reading level. Animals, court scenes, religious art and more. Quality images.

Architecture of India - Nice overview of architecture of India. Also see Great Buildings and Nice photographs by Günther Eichhorn [Archive].

India: The Living Arts - From Canadian Museum of Civilizations. Use the pull down menu to see where you want to begin. The images are all high quality.

India Revealed (Archive) - Indian Heritage: Images of Fine Art and Sculpture - Click on Sculpture tour or Sculpture index link at bottom. Site by Shishir Thadani. More sites by Shishir Thadani: India Resource: History and Culture - and Indian Arts and Culture (Archive).

Himalayan See Exploration for Kids - stories. You can also find art of India and Tibet. Paintings, sculpture, and textiles are on Sacred Traditions.

Manas: India and It's Neighbors - site has music, dance, art, architecture and more. Learn about the history, politics, religion of India and more. Web site created by: Vinay Lal Associate Professor of History, UCLA.


Krishna by Ramesh Gorjala, mixed media on canvas, 2009. Submitted by Sriprakasa Kowta. Contact Sriprakasa to purchase this painting. Click on the image for full size.


Mughal India: Interactive web site. Great site for learning about Taj Mahal and miniatures - Check the Art Chest (a bit of science in section on pigments) and file cabinet (many images there). You can click and learn about paintings, coins, weapons, jewelry and models from The British Museum's collections. Don't miss "the Staff Room" - Several lessons are included.

Objects from India (Archive) - Find out about clothing, toys, religious objects, food, music, pattern and more. Page created by: Sir Robert Hitcham's Primary School, College Road, Framlingham, Suffolk, United Kingdom.

Savifa Guide of Internet Resources of South Asia - The University of Heidelberg's resource page on India. Each region of India is listed. The links go to actual resources rather than just web sites.

The Sensuous and the Sacred: Chola Bronzes from South India - Visit the menu on the Flash animation as well as below. Learn about the naming of the bronze sculptures and the process. Learn about Hinduism - some background information.

Worlds of Wonder & Desire [Archive] - Indian Paintings from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Exhibit traced the evolution of Indian painting from the 12th to the early 20th century and showcased the museum’s rich holdings of South Asian painting.

Kamat's Potpourri: The Arts of India - by K. L Kamat. The Arts of India are the illustration of the religious life of the Hindus. See what all this site has to offer.

Kamat's Potpourri- Gatekeeper of Indian Art - More often than not, the Hindu temples have painted or sculpted guardians at the entrance. Dr. Kamat takes a look at the gatekeepers as depicted in various art forms. See what all this site has to offer.
Philadelphia Museum Collections Indian Art- Thumbnails link to larger images with detailed information of each work. Indian and Himalayan Art. (Site has changed. Search Collection - Art of India or India. Search will bring up many images of works from India).

Art India.Net - Performance Art. find out more about music and dance of India. This site is chock full of information.

Horizon’s – Art, Culture & Lifestyle of India - The Horizons - where you can explore the exciting and rich world of Indian art and culture. Learn more about dance, music and art. Also see their art gallery.

Asian Art- Online journal - The study and exhibition of the arts of Asia See Window of the Sacred World and other exhibitions.

Indian Mythology - The site contains terminology many stories, and a picture gallery. This is one link I obtained from CD by Karen Chace - a wonderful asset for the art teacher.

Tales of the Punjab: told by the People - Many of the tales in this collection appeared either in the Indian Antiquary, the Calcutta Review, or the Legends of the Punjab. Scroll down to the contents. Many stories with line illustration. Another site available on CD by Karen Chace.


Folk Art - Folk Art Painting [top of page]

Madhubani Painting - (women’s folk painting). An on-line exhibit of folk paintings by women artists who live in the Madhubani district of Northern India. University of Florida. Links for more information - Check Women Artists for images (Good research information from Dr. Kailish K Mishra)

Shalin India - (Review the archive of the site for more images) Folk art of Madhubani from the Mithila region of north Bihar, India. There are different styles developed by different castes of the region. Commercial site - but nice examples (site for Shalin Craft). Mithila Folk Art Painting and more - from Indigo Arts Gallery. This commercial site changes frequently.

Mithila Brahmans – online ethnography -- Mithila is an ancient cultural region of North India lying between the lower ranges of the Himalayas and the Ganges River. See the Art Gallery Gallery of Mithila Art.



Hanuman by Gorjala


Hanuman by Ramesh Gorjala, mixed media on canvas, 2009. Submitted by Sriprakasa Kowta. Contact Sriprakasa to purchase this painting. Click on the image for full size.


Janakpur Women's Development Center-- a talented group of women were selected Maithil Paintings, an Exhibition

Madhubani paintings – University of Virginia (See complete list of paintings)

Kamat's Potpourri: The Folk Arts of India - The site focuses on "Kinnarijogi" the Folk Artist.

Dollmaking of India - Lots of good information about India and Indian culture, too. See Costume Dolls and Indian Masks, too. A commercial site - but worth the visit.


Textiles - Pattern - Crafts - Prints [top of page]

Textile Arts of India - From the Tai Gallery. These textiles were an essential part of the spice trade. They were brought from India first by the Indians and Arab traders and later by the Europeans to trade for pepper and nutmeg.

McClung Museum – Prints and patterns of India - Over 50 textiles from the collection of Elsa Sreenivasam, Professor Emerita of Textile Design at Iowa State University, are the focus of this exhibition. Scroll down for selections from this exhibit.

Crafts in India - See all of the different crafts this site has to offer. Wood boxes, pottery, furniture and more.

Kamat's Potpourri: Handicrafts of India - Includes about 40 links to jewelry and Terra-cotta.


Contemporary Art [top of page]

Contemporary Art of India See Tyeb Mehta - work is in high demand. More of Mehta's work can be found on line. Browse other artists to find suitable ones to share with students.

Gallery Espace - Contemporary Indian Art.

Indian - Indian art and crafts. List of artists Browse and select suitable art for your students.

Shahzia Sikander - Pakistani artist (now living in the US) Specializes in Indian and Persian miniature painting, a traditional style that is both highly stylized and disciplined. Art21


Lesson Plans

Focus on India - Excellent elementary through middle school lesson ideas from Beaconsfield Primary School in Western Australia, Pauline O'Brien, art teacher.

India and Art in the Classroom (Archive) - This lesson uses the medium of Holi to teach children about natural colors.

India's Invincible Durga - A lesson by Crayola. See also their lesson, Honoring Ganesha in India, India’s Majestic Taj Mahal, and Mehndi Hands.

Mithila Folk Art Painting - Unit plan for secondary students. Includes image library and resources - very thorough plan. By by Kay Corcoran, 6th grade teacher at Del Mar Middle School in Tiburon, California.

Puja Guide for Educators - Smithsonian Lesson Plan-- Puja (Archive) is the act of showing reverence to a god or to aspects of the divine through invocations, prayers, songs, and rituals.

Additional plans on India (Archive) - From Mr. Donn's Ancient History Page.

PBS's The Story of India - With six history lessons.