The History of Indian Art and Architecture from Protohistory to Eighteenth Century

-  Prof Naman P.Ahuja

This first year course is intended to be a broad survey that equips students with an introduction, an essential chronology and a general historical context for the history of Indian art which they can use as a base to explore the many other optional courses available in the School. The first one-third of the course begins with Protohistoric cultures in the extended Indus Valley, the Ganga Valley and the megalithic cultures of the Deccan, proceeds to the earliest historic arts of the Mauryas, their various successors, the development of the stupa cult and its expression at Sanchi and Amaravati, the sculptural arts from the Kushan centres at Mathura and Gandhara and ends with the Gupta and Vakataka periods. The second section of the course briefly surveys the development of Indian temple architecture and sculpture at key sites like Ellora and Elephanta, Modhera and Mount Abu in Western India, Khajuraho in Central India, Bhubaneshwar in Orissa, Mahabalipuram and Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu and the Hoysala sites in Karnataka. The last section of the course will introduce the arts of the earliest Islamic kingdoms and Sultanates at Delhi, the architecture of Vijaynagar, pre-Mughal painting styles as seen in key manuscripts like the Laur Chanda, Chaurapanchasika and the Jain Kalakacharyakatha and on to the arrival of the Mughals and the development of their arts of the book. Briefly, the course will look at some key Mughal buildings and will end with the decorative arts of the Mughal period. While it is not necessary to have any prior knowledge of the art-history of India, students will certainly find the pace of the term easier with a little pre-reading that equips them with a religious and general historical background.


Some suggestions include:

• Diana L. Eck, Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India, Anima Books Pennsylvania, 1981, Second edn. 1985 (and widely reprinted).

• Bamber Gascoine, The Great Moghuls, Jonathan Cape, London and Dass Media, India, 1971 (and reprinted several times since).

• Gavin Flood, An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press (South Asian paperback edition by Foundation Books, New Delhi: 1998)

• Susan L. Huntington with contributions by John C. Huntington, The Art of Ancient India, Weatherhill, New York, 1985.

• Annemarie Schimmel, Islam: An Introduction, State University of New York Press, 1992 (translated from the German, Der Islam. Eine Einführung, 1990, Stuttgart)

• Romila Thapar, The Penguin History of Early India from the Origins to AD 1300 Penguin Books 2002

• Heinrich Zimmer, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization, (ed. Joseph Campbell), Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series VI, (first published in 1946, and widely reprinted since, including Indian editions)

• W. Zwalf, (ed.) Buddhism: Art and Faith, British Museum Publications, 1985.