The rich and diverse cultures of India are represented in exquisite detail in this book, which begins with a simple question: what is Indian art? The answer is as complex as the history of a nation that is only sixty years old and a civilization that is one of the oldest in the world. The vocabulary of Indian art is syncretic and is shaped by a variety of religious influences such as Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist. Persian, Turkish, Central Asian, Chinese, Japanese, as well as a host of European artistic traditions have also left their imprint on India. And the stunning topography of the subcontinent—the majestic Himalayas in the north, the dramatic deserts of Rajasthan, the fertile Gangetic plain, a southern coastline washed by the waves of the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal—continues to shape the Indian artistic imagination.
Each thematically organized chapter in this book delves into such topics as religion and myth, epics, festivals, courtly and village life, and the natural world. The gorgeous close-ups of paintings, textiles, and sculptures in metal, ivory, and wood illuminate the aesthetics and workmanship, as well as recurrent motifs that are distinctly Indian. The objects are all part of the extraordinary Indian Art collection in the British Museum. The beauty of the smallest details are magnified and contextualized through the accompanying essays written by an expert on Indian art and culture.