India is a country in the South Asian continent. India has a rich history and legacies of the past. It is a diverse country and has seen the influence of many rulers. The country has been under the Mughals as well as the Britishers. Majority of the population is Hindu and the country has seen a collaboration of such influence in its art. In India, women hold an auspicious place in society. The Indian art has been interpreted in various ways in the contest of women.
Seema Bawa in Gender in Early Indian Art: Tradition, Methodology, and Problematic examine the role of gender as a constituent element within both Indian art as well as its interpretations. Nudity and sensual depictions within ancient and medieval Indian art were depicted as derogatory and immoral within colonial interpretations such as those by Fergusson. Fergusson saw Indian art as deficient and effete. Some nationalist historians used such depictions to emphasize the positive role of the feminine and females in a general while for some, female images in Indian art were ‘obscene’ and ‘embarrassing’. (P. P. Dhar, 2011)
According to Annapurna Garimella (1997), scholars utilize gender to represent India, simultaneously making comparisons and ranking it as a hierarchy. The scholars implemented gender as one of their dominant modes of representation in achieving intellectual colonization.
The interpretation of Indian art as feminine by scholars such as A. Cunningham, V.A. Smith was an attempt to show the civilization as inferior to that of the superior and masculine west. They highlighted and condemned the immoral and irrational elements in Indian art to glorify the Western artistic tradition. The view of Alexander Cunningham that Indian art was a product of feminine decadence simply endorsed colonial prejudice against the civilization. (Seema Bawa, 2011)
Nationalist scholars such as A. Coomaraswamy marginalized the sensual aspects of Indian art and highlighted the visibility of goddesses within both the textual and artistic traditions and seek to recover the female figures and the feminine.
Representation of Women
Several scholars such as Ardeleanu-Jansen (1993) now agree that the figurines do not exaggerate the female body or necessarily represent fertility. The lack of clothing on the figurines has also been interpreted as evidence for a fertility function or a cultic function, rather than as a reflection of Indus dress. However, nudity does not imply eroticism or fertility. It may signify age (youth) or lower status in ancient art e.g. dancing girl (Meskell 1999). (Clark Sharri 2003).
Even though nuns have been donors and patrons of the art, their presence in visual arts is scarce. For instance, the 11th century artifact depicts a woman who is a poetess and devotee of Shiva, Karaikal Amayyar. She is represented with her extreme fasting showing knobbly knees, shoulders with a fearsome face suggesting similarity with Shiva.
Such histories are worth considering. Indian art and sculptures hold a special place. They are made with symbolic significance. Many of such materials are present at TrueGether which has a wide collection of styles influenced by India. It is also a good alternative to Shopify.