Indian art covers art that has been produced by ancient Indian civilizations, ranging as far back as 3500 BC. It includes a variety of art forms, such as indian paintings, ancient indian sculpture, tapestries, pottery and textile arts. Geographically, it covers art from the entire Indian subcontinent, which includes what is now the countries of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the eastern portion of Afghanistan.
Indian art is characterized by a strong sense of design, which can be observed in both the traditional and more modern forms. Along the way, Indian art has been influenced by several religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Islam.
The earliest examples of Indian art are from the Indus Valley civilization. The main surviving form of art from the time is in the form of gold, stone and terracotta figurines, which is believed to be due to the use perishable organic materials such as wood.
Unlike Western Art, Indian art can mainly be found as a part of its temples. Paintings in India tended to perish quickly due to the climate in the region. The few paintings that did manage to survive tended to survive in the more arid regions of the country, as opposed to the hot, humid climate that can be found in large parts of the subcontinent. Perhaps the finest examples of temple paintings in India can be found at the Ajanta and Ellora caves in modern day Maharashtra, while the finest examples of temple sculptures are undoubtedly the Khajuraho temple in modern-day Madhya Pradesh.
Indian art has some very characteristic features. Deities across religions have idealized bodies, making them nearly indistinguishable from one another in a vacuum. However, each deity is distinguished from the other on the basis of their clothing, their weapons, their hand gestures and their mount. They are also given certain characteristics out of the ordinary, such as Brahma having four heads, or Buddha having long earlobes and a tuft of hair between his eyebrows.
One of the most notable styles of Indian art is Tanjore paintings. The style developed in the town of Thanjavur, with Tanjore being the anglicized version of the name. Tanjore paintings are characterised by rich and vivid colors, simple iconic composition, glittering gold foils overlaid on delicate but extensive gesso work and inlay of glass beads and pieces or very rarely precious and semi-precious gems. The subjects of the paintings are primarily Hindu gods, goddesses and saints, with the paintings serving the purpose of devotional icons.
Indian Art has been heavily influenced by the Islamic Art produced by the Mughal and Persian civilizations as a result of geographic proximity and a constant exchange of ideas and styles over the centuries.