Art, Culture, Literature and Architecture

Harappan art 2500 1800 BC

  • Also known as the bronze age
  • Architecture refers to designing of and construction of buildings where are the sculpture is a three-dimensional work of art
  • In architecture ,various types of materials are used that is a stone , wood, glass, metal  etc .where as sculpture is made of single piece of material.
  • Architecture involves study of engineering And Engineering Mathematics and depends upon measurements, where as sculpture involves creativity and imagination , may not depend on measurements.


  • Are a square or rectangular or circular or triangular piece of material mainly stone with an average size of 2”x2” .dominantly square seals were found on them ,we find pictographic scripts along with animal Impressions which are yet to be deciphered.
  • Seals are made up of steatite (a river soft stone ) . Evidences of Copper Gold and Ivory seals has also been found in some instances
  • 5 signs or symbols on an average are present on a seal
  • Direction of writing is right to left
  • Seals are decorated with animal motif such as Unicorn bull , rhinoceros ,tiger ,elephant, goat, buffalo, etc (except cow)
  • Inscription of human figure are present on both side of the seals,even in some cases they are present on all 3 sides.

Significance /purpose of seal

  • mainly used as unit of trade and Commerce
  • Also used as amulets for productive and spiritual purpose(mainly Copper),dead bodies found had a hole for wearing them
  • Also used as an educational tool
  • Example Pashupati seals and Unicorn seals

II -Terracotta figures (sculptures)

  • Terracotta are fired baked clay
  • These figures are handmade using punching methods
  • For example mother goddess ,toys cards with wheels, birds and animals etc

III-Bronze sculptures

  • Bronze casting was practised on a wide scale under Harappan art
  • The technique used for Casting is known as “lost wax technique”
  • Under this technique at first wax figures are covered with a coating of clay and allowed to dry. Then it is heated and molten wax is allowed to drain out through a tiny hole at the bottom of the clay cover .the hollow mould is then filled with bronze or any other metal . Once the metal is cooled the clay is removed
  • Evacuations where it was prominent
  1. Kalibangan presently Rajasthan
  2. Daimabad presently Maharashtra
  3. Harappa

Example -Bronze dancing girl

It is a naked girl wearing only ornaments which include bangles , armlets  & necklace the left hand is on the hip. It is made using lost wax technique

Others stone sculpture

  • Bearded priest
  • Male torso (red sandstone)


  • Red and black pottery(painted pottery)
  • It consists of mainly wheel made wares. Very few are handmade
  • The more common is plain pottery
  • Under red and black pottery red colour was used to paint the background and black colour to draw design of trees, birds, animals, human figures and other geometrical patterns

Uses of pottery

  • For household purpose (storage of water ,food grains )
  • For decoration -miniature vessel used for decoration
  • Used for perforated pottery
  • Large hole at the bottom and small holes all over the wall and was probably used for straining liquor .


  • They are made up of a large variety of material ranging from precious metals, gemstones, bone and even baked clay
  • Necklace armlets and finger rings were common and worn by both males and females .while women wore a earings and anklets evidences of dead bodies Burried along with ornaments have also been found.
  • Harrapans were also conscious of fashion ( as different hairstyles ,wearing of a beard etc have been found
  • Cinnabar was used as a Cosmetic lipstick, Face paints and even eyeliner were also known to them.
  • Spinning of cotton and wool was common among Harappan


  • Houses were build of baked bricks, of fixed size.
  • Use of stone and wood in building has also been found
  • The concept of two storied houses were also present
  • Public Bath was a common feature example great bath at Mohenjo Daro ,it had galleries and rooms on all sides.
  • Granaries was another important creation which used to be located in Citadel .there construction was so intelligent that strategic conduct and platform can be found.
  • Drainage system of Harappa was note worthy .there was a temporary cover to drains,underground
  • Roads use to cut at right angles



  • Origins of Indian theatre not very well known
  • Drawings on caves show that dance, music and drama were an intrinsic part of the life of the people
  • Sitabengona and Jogimara (Ramgarh, MP) have structures that are possibly the oldest theatres of the world
  • IVC: a seal shows a person beating drum while other disguised as a tiger
  • A few hymns of the Rig Veda are in the monologue and dialogue form
  • Natyashastra evolved some guidelines for drama

Folk Theatre vs Classical Sanskrit Theatre

Table 1

Classical SanskritFolkModern
Place of performanceNormally performed privately or semi-privately – in palaces or rich homes, or in temple courtsPerformed in open grounds or in pandalsAuditoriums
AuditoriumDesign of auditorium described in Natyashastra.
StageUse features like back-stage, front-stage, wings and curtains
ThemesPlays written by dramatists – well structured. Themes of love, grief, myths etcFolk legends and myths. Later themes focusing on social conditions became importantDramas began to take up social themes, voice political unrest, express resentment against alien rule
ActingActors use rich gesture language and facial expressions to communicate effectively atmosphere and situationSpontaneous, simple and sometimes crude. Combines music, dance and  acting
Other characteristicsStandard formMore regional in form

Prominent folk theatre forms

  • Kerala
    • Mudiyettu
      • Ritualistic dance drama
      • Performed annually in Kali temples
      • Signifies triumph of good over evil as Kali vanquishes the demon Darika
      • Included in UNESCO list of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity (2010)
    • Krishnattam
    • Kudiyattam (Sanskrit theatre)
    • Theyyam
  • Assam
    • Anika Nat (one act play)
  • Rajasthan
    • Bhavai
    • Khyal (dance drama)
  • Haryana
    • Saang
  • Kashmir
    • Jashin
  • Himachal Pradesh
    • Karyala
  • Maharashtra
    • Tamasha
  • TN: Therukkothu
  • Bengal, Orissa:yatra
  • Goa: Zatra
  • UP: Nautanki
  • MP: Macha
  • North India in general
    • Rasleela
    • Ramleela

Important Dramatists


  • Asvaghosa – Buddhacharita
  • Kalidasa – Abhijnanasakuntalam, Meghduta, Kumarsambhava
  • Bhasa – Madhyamavyayoga
  • Shudrak – Mricchkatika
  • Vishakahdatta – Madrarakshasa
  • Bhavabhuti – Mahaveercharita


  • Dinbandhu Mitra – Neeldarpan
  • Aga Hashra Kashmiri (aka Indian Shakespeare?)
  • Bhartendu Harishchandra
  • Jaishankar Prasad
  • Habib Tanveer – Mitti ki Gadi, Charandas Chor
  • Mohan Rakesh – Ashadha ka ek din
  • Dharamveer Bharti – Andha Yug
  • Vijay Tendulkar – Shantata Court Chalu Ahe, Ghasiram Kotwal
  • Girish Karnad – Tughlaq, Yayati

Puppet Theatre

  • Rajasthani Kathaputli
    • Legend of Amarsingh Rathore is very popular
  • Orissa: Sakhi Kundhei
  • Assam: Putla Nach
  • Maharashtra: Malasutri Bahuly
  • Karnataka: Gombeyatta
  • TN: Bommalattam
  • Kerala: Tolpavakoothy
  • AP: Tholu Bomalata

Modern Drama

  • New theatre movement was initiated in Bengal and Maharashtra
  • Influence of Europeans
  • European plays translated and staged
  • Themes: Dramas began to take up social themes, voice political unrest, express resentment against alien rule
    • Deenbandhu Mitra’s Neeldarpan took the theme of the plight of the indigo plantation workers
    • Krishnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar’s Kichaka Vadha relected nationalist sentiments
  • Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) became a part of the mass struggle of peasants, youth and workers
    • It was the cultural wing of the CPI
  • Parsi theatre aimed at entertainment
  • Maharashtra
    • Indian National Theatre
    • Prithvi Theatre

Government Initiatives

  • National School of Drama, 1959


Different schools of art compared

Table 1

OriginEarlier Persian blend. Became Indian under Akbar.Originated in the sub-Himalayan kingdoms of 19th century.Early 16th century. Various sub-schools existedDone traditionally by the women in the villages near the town of Madhubani. It originated as floor and wall paintings.

Essentially a folk tradition

17th century under the patronage of Tanjore’s Maratha rulers
TypeMostly in miniature formMostly done in miniature form
ThemesDocument of life at the Mughal court, battles, hunt, arrival of embassies, festivities

Portrait paintings developed under Jahangir

Love of man for woman. Symbolised by Krishna and RadhaStrongly influenced by the contemporary literary and musical forms, and draw upon their motifs

<details below>

Nature and Hindu religious motifsUsually portrayed deities. Vishnu,Shiva and Krishna
Exceptional PointWas originally practiced by Brahmins and Kayasthas. Later SC women also adopted it. But the themes of the two are different. While higher castes depicted mythological themes, SCs experimented with day-to-day scenes.
CharacteristicsRealism is the keynote of this style

Artists had made contacts with Western art. Influence can be seen.

Bold and intense – Basohli

Delicate and lyrical; Tones subdued and lines exquisitely fine – Kangra

Decorate in their composition and colour scheme

Landscape lacks the naturalism of the Mughal school


Two dimensional imagery. Colors derived from plants.

No space is left empty. Gaps are filled by painting flowers, plants animals and even geometric shapes.

Snakes are a prominent featureArtists adhered strictly to iconography as these paintings were made for ritual and worship and not for display as is mostly the case today.
TechniqueUsed wider canvasTraditionally done as murals on mud walls. Now is also done one cloth, paper and canvasMade on jackwood pasted with unbleached cloth to which a mixture of limestone, chalk powder, gum and honey are applied in layers on a sketch of the icon. Extra coats given to raise some parts of the painting. Jewellery etc are put.
Major ArtistsBasawan, Daswanth, Kesudasa, MansurJagdamba Devi, Mahasundari Devi
Major WorksAkbarnama illustrations; rare birds and animals – Falcon (CS Museum, Bombay), Red Blossoms – floral paintingJodhpur and Nagaur paintings.
Major schoolsBasohli, Guler, KangraMalwa, Mewar (Ragamala paintings), Marwar, Kishangarh, Jaipur, Bundi, KotahBharni style, Kachni style
PatronsAkbar, JahangirRaja Kripal Singh (Bahsoli)Sarabhiji 2, Shivaji 2, Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar

Rajasthani Art Schools

Mewar (Ragamala)

  • themes from the life of Krishna and his frolic with the gopis; heroes and heroines of Hindi poetry.
  • Scenes from Bhagvata and Ramayana
  • Landscape lacks the naturalism of the Mughal school


  • Genuine Rajput style evolved under this school
  • Equestrian portraits of the royal house and the nobility.
  • Show bold types of expression with broad, fish eyes in human faces
  • This school is essentially Hindu


  • Raslila was painted. It became ‘an earthly erotic amusement’

Manjusha Art

  • Manjushas are temple shaped boxes containing eight pillars
  • The boxes often contain the paintings of gods, goddesses and other characters
  • The boxes are used in Bishahari Puja
  • This is practiced in the Bhagalpur region of Bihar


  • Channapatna toys
    • Wooden toys from Karnataka
  • Nirmal Toys
    • Wooden toys made in the town of Nirmal in Adilabad district
  • Tanjore doll
    • Bobblehead made of terracotta



  • Drawn using rice powder by female members in front of their home
  • Mainly in South India


  • North India. Using sand colors, flour or flowers

Other fine arts

  • Mehandi
  • Pichhwai
    • Intricate paintings that portray Lord Krishna
    • Exist in the town of nathdwara in Rajasthan
  • Tarakashi
    • A type of metalwork from Cuttack

Indian Art Awards

  • Kalaimamani
    • By Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nataka Manram
  • Kalidas Samman
    • Presented by the MP govt
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship
  • Shilp Guru
    • By GOI to a master craftsperson. Started in 2002.
  • Tulsi Samman
    • By MP govt. In fields of art, theatre, dance and music.
  • Varnashilpi Venkatappa Award
    • By Karnataka govt for excellence in painting




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