Indian Art is the visual art produced on the Indian subcontinent from about the 3rd millennium BCE to modern times. A strong sense of design is characteristic of Indian art and can be observed in its modern as well as in its traditional forms.
Indian art can be classified into specific periods each reflecting particular religious, political and cultural developments.
Ancient period (3900 BCE-1200 CE)
Islamic ascendancy (1192-1757)
Colonial period (1757–1940)
Independence and the postcolonial period (Post-1947)
In historic art, sculpture in stone and metal, mainly religious, has survived the Indian climate better than other media, and provides most of the best remains. Many of the most important ancient finds that are not in carved stone come from surrounding, drier regions rather than India itself. Indian funeral and philosophic traditions exclude grave goods, which are a main source of ancient art in other cultures. Although India has been characterized by a complex mixture of religious traditions almost since prehistoric times, generally the prevailing artistic style at any time and place has been shared by the major religious groups.
Kalamkari is an ancient Indian art that originated about 3000 years ago. It derives its name from Kalam meaning Pen, and Kari meaning work, literally Pen-work.
In ancient India, the art of painting using organic colors and dyes was very popular, but this style of painting originated at Kalahasti (80 miles north of Chennai) and at Masulipatnam (200 miles east of Hyderabad). The paintings then used to depict Hindu Deities and the scenes from Hindu mythology. Masulipatnam being a muslim region, the weavers were involved in the block printing art whereas the artists from Kalahasti practiced painting Hindu mythological scenes.
The major themes of Indian art seem to begin emerging as early as the Harappan period, about 2500 BC. Although we’re still not sure, some Harappan images look like later images of Vishnu and Shiva, and the tradition may start this early.
With the arrival of the Indo-Europeans (or Aryans) around 1500 BC, came new artistic ideas.
Around 500 BC, the conversion to Buddhism of a large part of the population of India brought with it some new artistic themes. But at first nobody made images of the Buddha – only stupas (STOO-pahs), symbolic representations that didn’t look like a person.
Then the conquests of Alexander the Great, in the 320s BC, also had an important impact on Indian art. Alexander left colonies of Greek veteran soldiers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and these soldiers attracted Greek sculptors (maybe some of the soldiers were sculptors). Their Greek-style carvings attracted attention in India – the first life-size stone statues in India date to the 200s BC, just after Alexander.