Guest Blog Post by Student Ambassador:

Adrianna Estrada (8th Grade)


Much of India’s arts are classified as ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ (ICH). UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization) deems important aspects of various cultures as Intangible Cultural Heritage, such as oral traditions, festivals, and traditional craftsmanship and folk art.  India ranks number ten for intangible cultural heritage elements inscribed by UNESCO worldwide.

Historical Influences in Indian Art:

The major themes for Indian art began to appear during the Harappan period, about 2500 BC. Some Harappan images look like later images of Vishnu and Shira. With the arrival of the Indo-Europeans around 1500 BC, new and novel artistic ideas began to emerge. Around 500 BC, Buddhism started to spread across the region, and with it, brought still newer themes and different drawing styles. In the earlier stages of Buddhism in India, people drew stupas, as a symbolic representation of Buddha.  The image of Buddha in the stupas around India might be hard to visualize as a person, but the art of likeness was rudimentary at the time.  

By the time the conquests of Alexander the Great had arrived, a great and important impact on Indian art resulted. Alexander left colonies of Greek soldiers in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is presumed that some of these soldiers were Greek sculptors. Their Greek style sculptures caught the attention of Indians, and subsequently, the first life-size stone statues in India date were created around 200 BC, right after Alexander. During the Guptan period around 500 AD, the Silk Road came to be. This increased trade with East Africa and brought a lot of wealth to India. With the influx of money, artists carved the Great Cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora. Statues and scenes from the life of Buddha became very popular as well during this time period. Later, the Muslims arrived and brought with them  their complex geometric patterns and building styles. 

Two Forms of Indian Folk Art:

Patachitra– ‘Pata’ indicates ‘Vastra’ or  clothing and ‘Chitra’ means painting. Patachitra art is created on cloth, and is a very special form of art in Orissa, India. The canvas is made from a fine gauze-like cloth which is composed of fortified tamarind paste, chalk powder and gum. After drying the canvas the painter draws the most intricate designs on it; then finishes the designs by coloring them with natural dyes. Patachitra dates back to the 5th century BC.




Bengal Pat– The indigenous art form that developed in Bengal came to be known as Bengal Pat. The paintings are made with dyes from spices, soot, and different Earthen minerals. The traditional colors that are used in Bengal Pat are red, indigo, green, black and ochre. This art form often depicts stories that minstrels used to sing about from of the past. The stories eventually were transcribed onto cloth scrolls to display the past in a most beautiful way.