Art Directory India

Evolution of Indian Art from the prehistoric era to modern times


Evolution of Indian Art from the prehistoric era to modern times

Art of India is mainly based on the pre-historic events, cultural and spiritual work. India has multiple art forms viz. painting, stone carvings, textiles, poetry, woven silk, dance, singing and so on… The origin of Indian art is pretty difficult to say but based on the historian’s recent findings the carvings done on the stones and the metals which can survive Indian climate provide remains of the ancient Indian art form which historian’s concealed it to be from 3 Millennium BC. Modern Indian art is a mixture of the culture and religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam.

Rock Art

Rock relief, engravings, and painting come under rock art. Bhimbetka rock shelters are the famous archaeological rock painting site in India which is located in Madhya Pradesh. It is enrolled under UNESCO world heritage and the paintings are believed to be done by early men who used to live in that area 30,000 years ago. The painting depicts human life along with animals, huts made of stone which varies from ages. This painting is made of red wash powder mineral called the Geru form of iron oxide.

Another famous archaeology site for Rock art is Mahabalipuram which is located near Chennai, famous for rock relief cravings and rock engravings cravings done by Pallavas dated between 7th and 8th-century CE. Carvings of battle moments on the huge rock, Mandapa, Ratham along with giant open-air rock relief of Ganga decent on earth, Shiva, Vishnu, Durga in seashore temple.

Terracotta figurines

Next level of evolution in the art form is Terracotta figurines, which were commonly found in Indus valley civilization(5000 BCE – 1500 BCE ), Mohenjedaro(2500 BCE) the last known civilization of Indus valley. Archaeologist found Terracotta figurines like a dancing girl, monkey, cow, bear, and dog. Apart from this most common figurative art form found is small carved seals and the steatite seals.

Mauryan art form dating (322 BCE – 185 BCE) is famous for rock-cut architecture, the famous pillars of Ashoka, the bold and mature style iron casting first of its kind which is not rusted till date. Lion Capital of Ashoka which has four Lions adopted as Emblem of India after independence, along with Terracotta figurines of humans and animals.


Gupta art forms date back to 320 CE – 550 CE as it is considered as the golden era for Hinduism. During this period painting was widely spread along with emerging of Hindu god sculptures. The Shikhara style of temple architecture and Mandapas (hall) were established during the Gupta period.

Pallavas and Cholas dynasties art forms date back to 3 CE – 1300 CE. The UNESCO world heritage Mahabalipuram which is constructed by the Pallavas is a form of Rock art and Rock relief where the Cholas are well known for the marvelous temple architecture.
The 1st sculpture found in India is from Indus valley civilization at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa which dated between 3300–1700 BC was Lord Nataraja’s idol in bronze.

Mughal art

The Mughal art form is mainly focused on the painting of the kings and queens. Painting during 1590 period incorporated with Indian flora and fauna along with Persian style. The art during Akbar time includes the Vibrancy and inclusion of the Akbar kingdom with Persian miniature and Rajput painting and the Pahari style which is also considered as an early modern art. Many years later company style watercolor painting was used during British rule.

Modern Indian Art

The moment for Indian painting started in the 19th-century with the likes of protagonists such as Raja Ravi Varma who started painting on the western tradition and techniques using oil paint and easel paint. The Ravi Varma work is an example of the fusion of Indian tradition with techniques of European academic artwork. His art played an important role in the nation’s consciousness.
Modern Indian art showcases the influence of western-style and also it is often inspired by Indian art forms. Majority of modern Indian artists are able to gain international recognition.

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