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Oxford Readings in Indian Art

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Item Code: NAH703
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Author: B. N. Goswamy
Language: English
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9780199469420
Pages: 557
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10.0 inch X 7.5 inch
Weight 1.10 kg
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Book Description
About the Book

The World of art is complex and challenging more so in India because the documentation here is remarkably thin whatever exists is widely scattered and difficult to gather. Addressing these issues, this volume brings together an astounding body of material consisting not only of speculations or theories, but also of original, primary sources. Between the pages we hear sages speak of the interrelationships of the arts, practitioners records measurements of units of time and space, iconographers lay down measurements of units of time and space, iconographers lay down rules and practices, artists record their experiences, and patrons recount their delights.

Oxford Readings in Indian Art traces the long, rich varied tradition of reflection on Indian art. Organized into thematic section, the contributions range from texts on iconography and aesthetics and excerpts bearing upon our understanding of patronage and artistic practices, to information on artists and early writings that have shaped our thinking on Indian art.

Slowly as one dips into these sources, one can hear the past speak and see the arts of India, which have been lost of history, come alive.

About the Author

B.N. Goswamy, acclaimed art historian, is currently professor emeritus of art history at Panjab University, Chandigarh India. He has held several distinguished poition: he has been visiting professor at many universities in Europe and the USA, including Heidelberg University, Germany ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich), Switzerland; the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, the University of California, Berkeley and Los Angeles, and the University of Texas at Austin, in the USA. He has been the recipient of the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, and the Tagore National Fellowship. He was honoured by the president of India with the padma Shri in 1998 and the Padma Bhushan in 2008.


The putting together of a volume like this is a task. While there is evident need for under- standing what the practice and the state of the arts in India in the past was, and for that to go to original sources which can serve as 'Readings', doing this is not easy. For the sources are scattered; facts have be gleaned, slowly; statements made directly are few; much has to be read between the lines; and interpretations tend to vary. No histories of art appear to have been written in early India; no biographies of artists exist, nor have artists left any notebooks or memoirs of their own. Much knowledge, having been preserved within families and passed on orally from generation to generation, remains hidden. The hard information we have from the past, as far as the arts are concerned, comes to us thus in the form of whispers that one can sometimes barely hear.

The limitations are clear. And yet, with some effort, a picture, somewhat hazy perhaps, can be reconstructed. For doing this the sources-primary, original, authentic, reasonably dateable, or securely dated-that one has to go back to and draw upon, are of diverse kinds and differ from period to period. To take some examples from ancient India, there is that seminal text, Bharata's Natyashastra, which has extensive passages on how the arts come into being and how they affect, even shape, minds. The Puranas-Agni, Markandeya, Linga, Shiva, among them-s-even though essentially religious texts in character, yield information, for instance, on iconography, and contain legends in which the arts sometimes figure. There are shilpa-shastras, the equivalent of manuals on art, which go into the making of images or structures-Chitrasutra, Chitralakshana, samarangana Sutradharo, Manasara, Abhilashaitartha Chintamani, Mayamata, among them-and contain most valuable passages on materials, processes, iconography, iconometry. Related to these in some manner are works that, strictly speaking, come from the fields of the performing or literary arts-the sahitya Darpana for instance, or the Abhinaya Darpana-but have a clear bearing on the visual arts. Works of literature, among them plays like Bhasa's Pratima Nataka, or Kalidasa's Abhijnana Shakuntalam, and cycles of stories such as the Kathasarita Sagara, provide insights into or descriptions of works of art. All of these have been drawn upon. Some things remain insistently obscured from sight, but there are others that come into full, sharp view.

From the period that followed, unparalleled, in respect of the information it contains, is the Akbar period work Abu'l Fazl's Ain-i Akbari-which has a whole chapter on the 'Arts of Writing and Painting'. Notices of art appear in chronicles or memoirs, names of individual painters start emerging in this period, and an emperor like Jahangir devotes space in his Tuzuk for the work that his most gifted artists did for him: men like Abu'l Hasan and Mansur. There are no detailed lives of the painters, but some painters and calligraphers begin to turn from shadows into substances as much from notices of them in other peoples' writings, however brief, as from their portraits that have survived. There were early visitors from the Islamic and Buddhist worlds-Fa Hsien, Alberuni, Taranath, among them-who observed and wrote about the arts in India. Writings from the Persian world which directly impacted or bore relevance to what was going on in respect of techniques and processes followed in Mughal India Bihzad's notes, Sadiq Beg's composition on the 'Laws of Painting' -are useful to draw upon. Truly valuable at the same time are the accounts left by European travellers and officers who came to India in a steady stream, from Jesuit priests and merchants and physicians to ambassadors to the Imperial court-Domingo Paes, Fernao Nuniz, Garcia da Orta, Father Monserrate, Johannes de Laet, William Finch, Thomas Roe, Bernier, Tavernier, Thevenot; somewhat later, Polier, Moorcroft, William Barr, von Orlich, and others-and the observations, some enthusiastic, others somewhat superior and cynical, they made on the arts in India. Their understanding of the grammar of these arts, and of their aesthetics, might have been partial, but their observation was sharp.

Writing anything close to the history of art in India, or aspects of it, began no earlier than the early years of the twentieth century, but a fair body of material came together then. There were scholars who translated old but nearly lost texts and added their own comments on them; others took stock of what was on the ground and helped to deepen understanding; still others who brought little known, or virtually unnoticed, developments in the arts into the foreground, Gopinath Rao, Manmohan Ghose, P.K. Acharya, Ananda Coomaraswamy, J. Ph. Vogel, Vincent Smith, E.B. Havell, Abanindranath Tagore, J.c. French, Goetz and Kuhnel, Stella Kramrisch, N.C. Mehta, among them. Excerpts from their writings go legit- imately into the 'Readings' that this volume consists of.

What has been set forth above might convey to the reader an idea of how things have been gone about, but there are other things that have also been researched, other sources drawn upon. In any case, the materials gathered have been organized under six sections: Early Textual References to Art; Icons and Their Measurements; Aesthetic Theory; Artists and Patrons; The Arts in Practice and as Observed; and Early Art Historical Writings.

There is much overlapping in this ordering, and it is admittedly somewhat arbitrary. But we hope that it makes for some convenience of consultation. With the same consideration in mind, each section is introduced, or preceded by, what can be called 'head-notes'.

A few things need to be stated about this effort. What is put together here is, in the nature of things, excerpts from sources, illustrative rather than exhaustive. The intention clearly is to lead the researcher/reader to those sources and by no means exhaust them. Other scholars might easily have gone for other sources or selections, and, naturally therefore, other readings. Some passages here run into several pages and there are others- inscriptions, colophons, and the like-that consist of no more than a few lines. But then that is of the essence of the material. An effort has been made, not always successfully, to provide some dates although perfectly secure dates, at least as far as early India is concerned, are the exception rather than the rule.

Two things in the end. This volume concerns itself essentially with the visual arts and not the performing or the literary. Spreading out into those other fields would have required another volume. Likewise, the final section on Early Art Historical Writings, stops suddenly, and indefensibly perhaps, with the year 1947. What followed after that, we are aware, is filled with other riches, but those, again, deserve to go into another volume. Meanwhile, it is hoped that what is put together and presented here would provide some insights, as also factually prove of some value to those whom the arts of India continue to interest.


  Acknowledgements xv
  Introduction XVII
1 The Hymn of Creation', from the Rig-veda 3
2 References to the Physical Attributes of Deities in the Rig-veda 5
3 Silpas or Hymns for Producing Art 6
4 An Image of a Woman Made Out of Gold by the Bodhisattva in the Kusa-Jataka 7
5 References to the Bodhisattva's Inherent Skill in Architecture, and the Act of Decorating Buildings, from the Maha- Ummaga Jataka 9
6 Bharata's Identification of a Sculpture of His Father, through Its Lakshanas 11
7 Mention of Craftsmen and Artisans in the Description of the Crowd That Welcomes the Buddha to Kapilavastu 15
8 A List of Sixty-four Arts from Yashodhara's Commentary on the Kamasutra ofVatsyayana 17
9 Sixty-four Kalas from the Shaivatantra 21
10 The Art of Painting and the Artist Used as Metaphors in the Context of Buddha's Teachings 22
11 Separated from Shakuntala, King Dushyanta Commissions Her 24
12 The 'Birth' of Painting as the Heavenly Apsara Urvashi 27
13 The Interrelationship of the Main Branches of the Arts, Elucidated by Markandeya in the Chitrasiura 29
14 The Divine Origins of Chitra, as Expounded by Brahma 31
15 The Bodhisattva's Accomplishment in the Arts 33
16 A Painter Fools Everyone by Painting a Life-like Image of His Own Corpse in a Tocharian Jataka 35
17 A Reference to the Celebrated Painter Mani in the Persian Epic E15 38
18 A King and His Friend Attempt to Guess the Identity of a Woman through Her Attributes as Painted in the Murals in the Palace 41
19 The Striking Realism of a Queen's Portrait Raises Suspicion in the Mind of the Patron King 45
20 A Princess Identifies Her Beloved, Only Encountered in a Dream, from a Painting Made by Her Friend 47
21 A Painted Peacock Feather Is Mistaken for a Real One by a King 49
22 A Prince Falls in Love with a Beautiful Stone Statue of a Woman 50
23 A Story of the Origin of the Arts, in the [ain Context 52
24 A Competition between the Artists of Turkey and China 53
25 The Emperor of China Is Helped by His Minister's Skill in the Art of Painting 56
26 Different Artisans Drawn on the Playing Cards Specifically Designed for Akbar, as Described by Abu'l Fazl 61
27 A Portrait of the Princess of China Causes All Men to Fall in Love with Her 63
28 The Uniting of Separated Lovers as a Theme in Paintings 65
1 Forms of the .lmages of Different Devas: Rama, Varaha, Narasimha, Shiva, and Others 69
2 Characteristics of the Image of Vasudeva and Other Gods: Iconography and Measurements 71
3 Passages Relating to Varieties of Lingas and Benefits from Their Worship 74
4 Measurements of the Five Kinds of Men from the Churasutra 76
5 Shiva Reveals His Many Forms, in the Tantric Text Shiva Rahasya 78
6 Different Temple Structures Listed and Explained by Varaha Mihira 81
7 The Necessary Qualifications of Architects, and the System of Measurement To Be Followed, as Expounded in the Manasara 83
8 The Manasara's Instructions on the 'Chiselling of the Eyes' of Idols to Prepare Them for Worship 87
9 Description on the Making of the Images of the Buddha 92
10 Prescriptions Concerning the Making of Images, Etc., as Given in the Sukranitisara 94
11 Svarupas of Diverse Hindu Deities, and Some Measurements 96
12 Directions from the Sariputra on the Making of the Images of the Buddha 98
13 Buddha's Own Recommendations about How Images of His Should Be Made: Measurements and Other Details 101
14 Iconographic Details for the Images of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, as well as Hindu Deity Ganesha, from the Sadhanamala 105
15 The Fourteen Dreams ofTrishala, as Described in the Kalpa Sutra 107
16 Prescriptions for the Images of Jain Deities 111
  The Eight Rasas Explained 117
  The 'Laws of Dance': Expressions, Gestures, Glances, Hand Positions, Etc. 127
  Aesthetic Experience as Annotated in Abhinavagupta's Commentary on the Natyashastra 134
  An Approach to Aesthetics through a Combined Study of Rhetoric and Drama 137
  The Six Fundamental Rules of Painting Elucidated 139
1 A Description of Materials and Methods of Making Images 143
2 Recipes for Lepas or Plasters To Be Used for Construction and Repair 145
3 The Guide to the Lost Wax Technique Used to Cast Idols 147
4 A Summary of the Contents of the Mayamatam 149
5 The Method of Plastering Walls in Preparation for Painting 151
6 Rules for the Correct Technique of Painting 154
7 The 'Epistle' of Maulana Sultan Ali 157
8 Detailed Description of the Netra Mangalya, or the Ceremony of 'Eye Opening' of a Sacred Image 162
9 A Chapter on Pratima Lakshana-the Characteristics of (Sacred) Images-Guides Sculptors on Materials and Methods 168
10 Reference to the Oris san Artist's Process as It Was in Eighteenth Century 171
11 Two Official Documents on the Production of Paper at Daulatabad 172
12 The Process for Obtaining Peori Yellow Pigment 174
13 Methods of Extracting Dyes Explained 176
14 Documentation of the Process of Making Paper 179
15 A List of Botanical Sources of Coloured Pigments, Used for Making Dyes 181
16 Procedure for Making Sialkoti Paper 184
17 Faxian's Description of the Chariot Procession of Buddha at Pataliputra 186
18 Xuanzang's Account of Stupas and Images of Buddha in Gandhara 188
19 Alberuni's Observations on the Materials Used for Writing and Painting in India 190
20 Domingo Paes Describes the Vijayanagara Empire 193
21 Opulence of the Kingdom of Vi jay an agar a as Observed by Fernao Nuniz 196
22 An Early Description of the Elephanta Caves 198
23 Taranath's Record of the History of Some Accomplished Indian Artists 200
24 An Extract from a Letter by the Dutch Painter Cornelis Claez de Heda 202
25 William Finch Observes the Frescoes on the Walls of Royal Buildings at Lahore and Agra 203
26 Jesuit Priests Present a Painting of the Madonna at the Court of Akbar 206
27 Akbar's Visit to a Jesuit Chapel in Agra, as Recorded by Monserrate 211
28 Johannes de Laet's Estimation of the Wealth of the Mughal Monarchs 213
29 Thomas Roe's Encounters with Jahangir, and the Mughal Emperor's Interest in Western Art 215
30 Francois Bernier's Letter Describing the Art of Painting as Practised in Different Cities of Mughal India 217
31 Tavernier's Detailed Description of the Mughal 'Peacock Throne' 219
32 Travelogue of Thevenot as He Travelled through Different Parts of India, Observing the Arts and Monuments 221
33 Forbes's Appreciation of the Art at Elephanta and Ellora 225
34 The Artist William Hodges's Thoughts and Observances on Indian Architecture 227
35 The Process of Production of Paper at 'Hurry Ha!' as Witnessed by Edward Moor 229
36 A Description of the Temples at Barolli 231
37 References to the Art of Painting under the Kangra Ruler Sansar Chand from William Moorcroft's Correspondence and Journals 234
38 Frescoes at Mandi Described by Vigne 236
39 Details of the Frescoes in the Palace at Wazirabad 238
40 References to Murals from the Journals of William Barr 240
41 Leopold von Orlich's Encounter with the Court Painter of Maharaja Sher Singh 242
42 Reference to a Local Artist, in the Letters of Emily Eden 243
43 Paintings of Kangra and Chamba Observed and Described by an Austrian Soldier and Traveller 244
1 Details of Artists and Artisans in the Accounts of the Padmakesara Temple at Konaraka, from the Time of Its Construction 251
2 A Letter of the Famed Persian Painter Bihzad 255
3 A Royal Warrant Appointing Bihzad as the Head of the Royal Library of Shah Esma'il 257
4 Reference to Artists from the Account of Humayun's Reign, in the Words of His Chronicler Bayazid Biyat 259
5 Abu'l Fazl's Account of the Arts of Writing and Painting as Practised during the Reign of Akbar 261
6 Badauni's Reference to Two Artists from the Imperial Atelier of Akbar 268
7 A Selection of References Collected from Different Literary Sources on the Making of the Hamza Nama under the Patronage of Akbar 270
8 Mir Musavvir's Petition 274
9 The Painter Keshavadas's Petition 275
10 A Reference to Farrukh Husain, a Painter at the Court of Ibrahim II Adil Shahi of Bijapur 276
11 References to the Art of Painting in the Autobiography of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir 277
12 Jahangir's Interest in Portraiture as Recorded by the Scholar Mutribi 280
13 Reference to Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Patronage of Painting 282
14 Instructions Sent by Polier to His Indian Artist Mehrchand 284
15 Catalogues Maintained by the State of Bikaner: Record of the Contribution of Individual Artists to the Commissioned Manuscripts 287
16 Painter Shiba's Letter to His Patron, the Maharaja of Kangra 289
17 Entries Made in Pilgrims' Registers at Haridwar by Members of an Artist Family 291
18 Petitions Written by Artists, Addressed to Their Patrons 293
19 Details of the Construction of a Temple Commissioned by the Maharani of Marwar: Details on the Artisans and Labourers 296
20 Records Relating to the Craftsmen Employed by the Jagannath Temple at Puri 298
21 Donations by Artisans and Craftsmen Recorded in Inscriptions at the Sanchi Stupa 303
22 Two Inscriptions from the Bharhut Stupa Record the Donations Made by a Stone Worker and a Sculptor 304
23 Donation by an Artisan to a Stupa at Jaggayapeta in the Andhra Region 305
24 Votive Inscriptions from the Amravati Stupa 306
25 Record of the Donations Received in the Kanheri Caves of Maharashtra 307
26 The Migration of a Guild of Weavers from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh Recorded in an Inscription 308
27 A Brief Inscription from Ajanta Containing the Name of an Artist Apprentice 312
28 Extracts from an Inscription Recording the Employment of Different Artists and Craftsmen at the Rajarajeshwara Temple in Tanjavur 313
29 Deopara Stone Inscription Signed by the Sculptor 315
30 Inscriptions from a Hoysala Temple at Belur Record the Names of the Sculptors 316
31 An Engraver's Signature in an Inscription from Silimpur, West Bengal 319
32 Names of Artisans, Stone Cutters, and Labourers Documented in Inscriptions Found at Radhanpur, Gujarat 320
33 The Colophon of an Early Kalpasutra Manuscript 322
34 The Colophon of a Fifteenth-century Vasanta- Vilasa Scroll 323
35 Important Information Extracted from the Colophon of a Manuscript from Jaunpur 324
36 Inscriptions in the Hands of Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan on an Album of Persian Poetry 325
37 A Detailed Colophon of a Devi Mahatmya Manuscript from the Pahari Region 328
38 Name of the Scribe Recorded in the Colophon of a Deval Rani Khizr Khan Manuscript 329
39 Colophon of an Illustrated Anwar-i-Suhailli Manuscript 330
40 The Detailed Colophon of a Ramayana Manuscript Commissioned by the Khan-i-Khanan Abdul Rahim 331
41 Names of Artists, Place, and Date of Creation, from the Colophon of a Ragamala Series from 1591 CE 333
42 A Colophon from a Manuscript of the Anwar-i-Suhailli, Completed at Lahore 334
43 The Colophon of a Lavishly Illuminated Manuscript of the Khamsah of Amir Khusrau 335
44 The Colophon of a Nafahat al- Uns Written by Abdul Rahim during the Reign of Akbar, at Agra 336
45 An Inscription by Jahangir in an Illustrated Ramayana Manuscript of the Imperial Mughal Library 337
46 The Colophon from a Bustan Manuscript Written at Agra 338
47 The Colophon from an Illustrated Vijnaptipatra Scroll 339
48 The Colophon from a Ragamala Series 341
49 The Colophon from a Gulistan Manuscript, Written by Ruknuddin Mas'ud, a Poet and Physician of the Mughal Court 342
50 The Colophon of a Ragamala Manuscript Illustrated by the Eminent Mewar Painter Sahibdin 343
51 Three Sectional Colophons from a Manuscript Containing Three Different Texts 344
52 The Colophon of a Basholi Rasamanjari Series from 1695 CE 346
53 An Inscription from a Painting of Lakshmi-Narayan from the Reign of Karan Singh of Bikaner 347
54 The Colophon of a Ragamala Manuscript Painted at Amber in 1709 CE 348
55 Three Colophons from Manuscripts Produced during the Reign of Maharana Sangram Singh of Mewar 349
56 Different Interpretations and Translations of the Colophon of a Pahari Gita-Govinda Series, Attributed to the Artist Manaku 350
57 The Colophon of a Madhu-Malati Manuscript from Kulu 352
58 The Colophon of a Series of Ramayana Drawings, Written by the Pandit Who Collaborated with the Artist 353
(The excerpts that appear in this part are taken from the following works)
1 Ram Raz, An Essay on the Architecture of the Hindus 357
2 B.H. Baden-Powell, Handbook of the Manufactures and Arts of the Punjab 359
3 George C.M. Birdwood, The Industrial Arts of India 363
4 Alexander Cunningham, Book of Indian Eras 365
5 T.H. Hendley, Memorials of the Jeypore Exhibition 1883 369
6 The Parable of Indian Art' 373
7 T.N. Mukharji, Art-Manufactures of India 377
8 Albert Grunwedel, Buddhist Art in India 380
9 Edmund W. Smith, 'Wall Paintings Recently Found in the Khwabgah Fathpur Sikri, Near Agra' 383
10 George Watt, Indian Art at Delhi 1903 390
11 J.L. Kipling, The Beast and Man in India 392
12 A.K. Coomaraswamy, The Indian Craftsman 396
13 J. Ph. Vogel, Catalogue of the Bhuri Singh Museum at Chamba 400
14 James Fergusson, History of Indian and Eastern Architecture 403
15 Christiana J. Herringham, 'The Frescos of Ajanta' 406
16 Defects in Indian Art Ware' 410
17 Festival of Empire and Imperial Exhibition' 415
18 A.K. Coomaraswamy, 'The Modern School of Indian Painting' 418
19 E.V. Havell, The Ideals of Indian Art 422
20 A.K. Coomaraswamy, The Eight Nayikas' 424
21 T.A. Gopinath Rao, Elements of Hindu Iconography 427
22 Abanindranath Tagore, Some Notes on Indian Artistic Anatomy 430
23 The Editor, 'Note on Previous Copyings of the Frescoes' 432
24 Laurence Binyon, 'The Place of Ajanta Paintings in Eastern Art' 434
25 George C.M. Birdwood, Sva 436
26 A.K. Coomaraswamy, Rajput Painting 438
27 A.K. Coomaraswamy, The Dance of Shiva 443
28 John Marshall, A Guide to Taxila 451
29 M. Auguste Rodin, 'The Dance o fShiva' 456
30 Laurence Binyon, The Court Painters of the Grand Moguls 459
31 L.D. Swamikannu Pillai, An Indian Ephemeris AD 700 to AD 1799 462
32 Rabindranath Tagore, 'The Creative Ideal' 465
33 Percy Brown, Indian Painting under the Mughals, AD 1550 to AD 1750 470
34 A.K. Coomaraswamy, Catalogue of the Indian Collections in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 480
35 Ernst Kuhnel and Herman Goetz, Indian Book Painting 484
36 N.C. Mehta, Studies in Indian Painting 490
37 Ivan Stchoukine, La Peinture Indienne a l'Epoque des Grands Moghols 493
38 Vincent A. Smith, A History of Fine Art in India and Ceylon 496
39 J.c. French, Himalayan Art 499
40 Muhammad Sana-ullah, 'Notes and Analyses' 509
41 Heinrich Zimmer, 'Some Aspects of Time in Indian Art' 514
42 E.J.H. Mackay, 'Further Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro' 516
43 Stella Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple 524
  Bibliography 529
  About the Editor 537


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