HHindu art and Hinduism - A diverse body of religion, philosophy, and cultural practice native to and predominant in India, characterized by a belief in reincarnation and a supreme being of many forms and natures, by the view that opposing theories are aspects of one eternal truth, and by a desire for liberation from earthly evils.

Hinduism originated in northern India and spread to the south and later to the mainland of Southeast Asia and Indonesia. The religion has no founder but developed over a period of centuries out of India's various pantheistic cults. Nor is it based on a single text. There are countless writings, tales, myths and legends.

One key feature of Hinduism is the notion that all living beings form part of an eternal cycle of reincarnations from which humanity can only break free with immense effort. The existence of the world is also seen as part of this cycle. Creation came about, it exists and it will once more be destroyed. In the course of time a new world era will dawn again. This process continues throughout eternity. Three gods are central in Hinduism: Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. They form a divine trinity. Of these, it is Vishnu who preserves creation and Shiva who is the destroyer. The Hindu divinities are worshipped both in temples and in the home.

Making generalizations about the visual culture of any group of people is a crude endeavor, especially with a culture as diverse as that of Hindus. With this thought in mind, know that this survey, as any must be, is tremendously limited in its breadth and depth.


Examples of Hindu art:



India or Bangladesh, West Bengal, The Goddess Durga Killing the Buffalo Demon, Mahisha (Mahishasuramardini), Pala period (c. 750-1200), 12th century, mudstone, height 5 5/16 inches (13.5 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.





see thumbnail to leftIndia, Tamil Nadu, Standing Parvati, Chola period (880-1279), c. first quarter of the 10th century, copper alloy, height 27 3/8 inches (69.5 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Shiva.






India, c. 950, Siva as the Lord of Dance (Nataraja), copper alloy, 30 x 22 1/2 x 7 inches (76.2 x 57.1 x 17.8 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art. See dance.



see thumbnail to leftSouth India, Tamil Nadu, Chola dynasty, Brahma, 10th century, granite with traces of gesso and red pigment, Worcester Art Museum, MA.



Nepal, c. 1000, Androgynous Form of Siva and Uma, copper alloy with semiprecious stones, 33 x 14 1/2 x 5 inches (83.8 x 36.8 x 12.7 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art. See Shiva.




India, Tamil Nadu, Shiva as Lord of Dance (Nataraja), Chola period (880-1279), c. 11th century, copper alloy, height 26 7/8 inches (68.3 cm), diameter 22 1/4 inches (56.5 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.





see thumbnail to leftIndia, Amorous Couple "Maithuna", 10th-13th centuries, sandstone, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.



South India, Chola dynasty, Somaskandamurti, 11th-12th century, bronze, Worcester Art Museum, MA. Somaskandamurti is a manifestation of Shiva, seated on Mount Kailasa, the mountain throne of the gods. The multiple aspects of Shiva are combined in three personages: the god himself, his consort Parvati, and his son Skanda. This type of representation is peculiar to South India, where it originated during the Pallava period (about fifth to ninth century).



Jagaddeva (Indian, active about mid-12th century), The Goddess Sarasvati, 1153, marble, 47 1/4 x 19 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches (120.2 x 50.2 x 29.7 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Sarasvati, the Jain goddess of knowledge, learning, and music, is identified in the inscription on the base of this artwork. It states that the nobleman Parasuruma commisioned the piece in 1156 from the master builder Jagaddeva to replace one dedicated in a temple in 1069 and damaged in 1153. Such information is very rare; most Indian sculptures are anonymous and undated.



see thumbnail to leftSouth Indian, Chola dynasty, Parvati, Consort of Shiva, 12-13th century, bronze, Worcester Art Museum, MA.






India, Orissa, Loving couple (Mithuna), probably Eastern Ganga dynasty, 13th century, ferruginous stone, height 72 inches (182.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.




see thumbnail to leftIndia, Orissa, Seated Ganesha, 14th-15th century, ivory, height 7 1/4 inches (18.4 cm), width 4 3/4 inches (12.1 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Ganesha.


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Also see apsara, avatar, bhakti, Brahma, ethnic, flag, garba griha, gopuram, karma, mandala, mudra, Mughal dynasty, nirvana, Ramayana, Shiva, samsara, sikhara, Sri Lankan art, vimana, Vishnu, and yaksha.







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