India Arts and Culture

Culture

Located in South Asia according to OXFORDASTRONOMY, India covers an area of more than three million square kilometers, bordered to the north by China and Nepal, to the west and northwest by Pakistan, to the east by Myanmar (Burma), to the northeast by Bhutan and Sikkim, to the southwest with the Arabian Sea, south with the Indian Ocean and southeast with the Bay of Bengal.

The official language of the country is Hindi but the Constitution of India recognizes 15 different linguistic areas. Furthermore, English is spoken practically throughout the country.

78% of the population is Hindu, 11% Muslim, 2% Sikh and 1% animist. There are also minorities who practice Christianity, Judaism, and some other religions.

The vast expanse of India makes the climate very different depending on the area in which we are. On the coasts the climate is temperate, in the interior the climate is continental and in the Himalayan zone the temperatures are extreme with perpetual snow.

Also part of India are the Minicoy Islands and the Laccadive group in the Arabian Sea and the Adamán and Nicobar archipelagos in the Bay of Bengal.

Arts

The first Indian artistic manifestations are those embodied by the Harappan culture (in Pakistan) in ceramics and engraved stamps. During the Vedic period (1500 to 700 BCE) the four Vedas texts were orally composed. Later, in the Maurian Empire, the development of the arts took place, and the composition of the most important texts of Indian culture: the Majabhárata and the Ramaiana.

Indian art and culture are largely influenced by the religions that predominate in this country, especially Buddhism.

In terms of architecture, stone and decorative themes such as palmette, zoomorphic capitals, principles of Buddhist doctrine and lions symbolizing Buddha are mainly used.

It is at this time when Buddhism develops and the typical constructions of this religion begin to appear, as well as representations of Buddha, whether symbolic or human (in the form of a monk with his right shoulder uncovered and the palm of the hand extended towards the faithful to show that they are not afraid).

The Muslim invasion also leaves its mark on the art of India, which is why we find Islamic elements such as minarets and vaults along with mandapas and kudú arches, typically Hindu.

The rule of the Mughal Empire emerged and materials such as white marble and precious stones began to be used in construction. These two styles, the Islamic and the Mongolian, come together giving rise to unique constructions in the world such as the Taj Mahal or the Red Fort in Delhi.

Indian painting is mainly developed on frescoes, textiles, and manuscripts. The subjects represented are usually religious motifs, great feats or elements of nature.

The colors used were characterized by being bright and intense.

The Indian literature was originally developed in manuscripts engraved on palm leaves or parchment, kept on wooden plates and wrapped in fabrics, which has allowed them to be preserved over time.

Architecture

Among his most recognized architectural works are the Taj Mahal, The Lotus Temple, The Great Sanchi stupa, Ranakpur, among others.

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

In the 16th century, Babur, a descendant of Genghis Khan and an Islamic religion, founded the Mughal dynasty, a Persian word that replaces “Mongol” to eliminate the negative connotations that this word had.

The construction of the buildings was conceived around a dominant axis of prayer, oriented towards Mecca, the holy City of Islam.

Each of the Mughal sultans built a grandiose palace since it was customary that after his death it was transformed into his tomb and that of his wives.

These mausoleums, built in marble, had monumental entrances that were accessed after walking through long gardens. Among all these mausoleums, the most emblematic is the Taj Mahal.

It was built in Agra, North India, by order of Emperor Shah Jehan, in memory of his most beloved of his wives, Muntaz Mahal.

According to legend, Muntaz asked her husband to build a monument that symbolized the beauty of their love when he was already on his deathbed.

Construction of the building began around 1632 and ended in 1643. More than 20,000 workers participated in its construction.

It is said that when the building was finished, Jehan had the master builder’s hand cut off to prevent him from repeating a similar work.

The garden complex has a rectangular plan measuring 580 meters long by 305 meters wide. In the center of this rectangle is a 300-meter square garden, the main axis of which runs from south to north, from the gate to the mausoleum.

Originally, the garden was made up of a multitude of exotic flowers and trees, all of them geometrically arranged and perfectly symmetrical. Thus, the number four, the sacred number in Islam, was the basis of the entire design.

The canals, symbol of the four rivers of paradise, had fountains and were surrounded by cypress trees. These canals intersect in the center forming a pond of white marble water lilies, somewhat raised from the ground, symbolizing the AlKawthar, the heavenly pond of abundance mentioned in the Koran. This was intended so that the mausoleum would be reflected in its waters.

The mosque and jawab were made of red sandstone, which contrasts with the whiteness of the Makrana marble in the mausoleum, raised on a twenty-foot-high marble plinth. A stone slope protects the garden from river erosion.

Square in plan, the mausoleum has four identical facades, with chamfered corners and an impressive 33 m high arch on each one.

The beautiful dome located over the central hall rises on a drum surrounded by four octagonal towers, each topped by a small domed pavilion.

The geometric and floral decoration, inlaid with lapis lazuli, coral, amber and jade, frames all the openings of the building and is completed with verses from the Koran inlaid in black stone.

The material with which it was built is brick lined with white marble slabs, whose tone changes according to the daylight, thus creating a subtle variation that produces a feeling of tranquility.

The Great stupa of Sanchi,

The Great Stupa of Sanchi, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, central India, was built between the 3rd century BC. n. and. and early 1st century. The solid temple is surrounded by a stone wall with toranas (gates) on all four sides. The devotees surround the dome that represents the mountain of the world. The four-sided enclosure or harika at the top of the dome represents the heavens, and surrounds the yasti, or spiral with three chatras (discs) that allude to the axes of the Universe.

India Arts and Culture