Last week we discussed Art Nouveau and, therefore, we have to follow it up with the movement it gave rise to and influenced greatly, Art Deco.

The story of Art Deco occurs against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties in the U.S. and a scarred Europe recovering from World War One. While the U.S. wasn’t faced with rebuilding after the war, it did have to rebuild its economy after the Great Depression of 1929.

Chrysler Building in Manhattan, New York

Art Deco is a form of Modernism that flourished in the United States and Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. The origins of Art Deco began two decades earlier in Paris. “La Societe des artistes decorateurs” or the Decorative Artists Society was founded following the Universal Exposition of 1900. Early members, including architect Hector Guimard, believed in the importance of France’s decorative arts and marketing their achievements for business purposes. These artists also displayed their creations at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Art in Paris in 1925.

Bevis Hiller – author as depicted in the Spectator magazine

The Decorative Artists Society inspired the name “Art Deco,” but the term did not become popular until the publication of “Art Deco of the 20’s and 30’s” by Bevis Hillier in 1968.

Détail  – de la station de métro du Palais-Royal by Hector Guimard

A founder of the Decorative Artists Society, Hector Guimard (1867-1942) was a French architect famous for designing modern facades for the entrances to Paris Metro stations during the Art Nouveau movement (1890-1905). His style was curvilinear, characteristic of Art Nouveau.

Radio City Music Hall

Among many examples, two American buildings represent Art Deco—New York’s Chrysler Building and Radio City Music Hall. The Chrysler Building was designed by architect William Van Alen between 1928 and 1930. He initially worked for William Reynolds (cigarette tycoon), but his plan was later acquired by Walter P. Chrysler (automotive tycoon). For a short time, this 77-story skyscraper dominated the Manhattan skyline and enjoyed fame as the world’s highest building.

Exterior of Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall is a landmark in New York City’s theatre district. The site was leased by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and was not ideal for his dream to construct a new Metropolitan Opera House because of the 1929 stock market collapse. In a partnership with Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and S.L. “Roxy” Rothafel, Rockefeller constructed the Radio City Music Hall. An unknown designer named Donald Deskey, specialist in carpets and furniture, got the job of decorating the new entertainment hall. His Jazz Age furniture theme is an extant example of Art Deco design.

Art Deco hotel lobby in Miami’s South Beach

Other Art Deco style furniture adorns the lobbies of the boutique hotels of South Beach in Miami, Florida. This hotel district was refurbished in the 1980s and has become a hub of international culture. When you walk into a hotel in the Art Deco district, the interior design and the furnishings are true to Art Deco style.

Rockefeller Centre in Manhattan, New York

Another memorable example of Art Deco architecture in the Big Apple is the 10-building complex of Rockefeller Centre. This massive complex takes up six square blocks between Manhattan’s Avenue of the Americas and Fifth Avenue, home of world class shopping. Rockefeller Centre is also the home of the annual Christmas tree lighting in New York City.

A Rene Lalique Algues Large Opalescent Glass Plate, Art Deco Period

A three-dimensional example of Art Deco is found in the glass creations of the Frenchman, Rene Lalique. While he was a classic artist of Art Nouveau, he produced a special series of Art Deco glasses and bowls with geometric, floral, and stylized bird decorations.

Miami Art Deco buildings

The Art Deco style is evident in many places in the U.S. of the 21st century, especially in buildings and homes which retain the authentic decor of the 1920s and 1930s.

Marine Drive, Bombay – Art Deco buildings

Saptarshi Das

Born in 1977, the extremely talented and committed artist, Saptarshi Das, graduated from the Indian College of Art and Draftsmanship in 2000.

His concerns and commitment to causes are encapsulated in his own words:

“For the past two years I have been concentrating on conceptual works with new mediums, like food grains. My works deal with the socio- economic realities of present India, where disparities between the rich and poor are strategically submerged by the glittering skin of globalization.”

Saptarshi Das has a slew of glittering exhibitions to his credit:

Solo show titled ‘Picsale’ held at Gallery Ragini, New Delhi, in 2012; Two-man show ‘The ordinary inspires’ held at Gallery Ragini, New Delhi, in 2013; the 5th Beijing International Art Biennale, China, 2012; the 5th Edition of India Art Fair, India, 2013; ‘The Contemporary Walk’, Gallery Ragini @ The Claridges, New Delhi 2013; the 9th Bharat Bhavan International Biennale of Print Art 2011, India 2011; the India Art Collective (Online Art Fair), 2011; “Red Room” Group Show in Gallery Ragini, New Delhi, 2011;”Nirvana” Group show in India Habitat Centre, New Delhi,2011; Friends of Fine Arts, Group Show at Birla Academy, Kolkata, 2010; “META 4″ group Show, at Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, India 2010; 4th Group Exhibition at Academy of Fine Arts, India 2005; 3rd Group Exhibition at Academy of Fine Arts, India Kolkata 2003; “Young Faces” Birla Academy Kolkata, India 2003; A.I.F.A.C.S. Annual Exhibition India 2002; 2nd Group Exhibition at Lalit Kala Academy, India New Delhi 2002; 1st Group Exhibition at Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, India 2002; State Academy (West Bengal) Annual Exhibition, India 2002; Annual Exhibition at Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, India 2001; Annual Exhibition at Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, India 2000;College Exhibition (Indian Collage of Art & Draftsmanship) 1998, 1999; 2000 Best Exhibit award from Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, India 2001.

Saptarshi Das’ Digital Prints on paper are stunning.

MyGrain: Saptarshi Das

This is what Saptarshi has to say about his artworks with food grains:

“The series MyGrain conveys the message of food security for all, with agricultural prosperity and a well mannered distribution system in society. I tweak the traditional form of art using food grains by encapsulating them with transparent resins permanently, and shaping them into contemporary image forms. The works in this series stand in a single word “ MyGrain” which is a hybrid word like hybrid crops, or seeds like Monsanto, BT Cotton, Kargeel etc. and refers, as a whole, to the problems and the demands for food or grain for every individual. I have purposely worked with poor quality images (pixilated or low resolution) depicting poor citizens of the society; so that in a macro level the audience can find the proper images from a certain distance while in a micro level one can discover the original material: food grains.

Despite the economic performance, with over 200 million people who are food insecure, India is home to the largest number of hungry people in the world. In the ranking of the Global Hunger Index 2008 it covers position 66 out of 88 ranked countries and has an “alarming“ (23.7) food security situation. The major problem in the country is the high prevalence of underweight children under five, which is a result of low nutrition and the educational status of women.

My works deal with the socio-economic present realities of India, where disparities between the rich and poor are strategically submerged by the glittering skin of globalization. On the one hand people suffer from the lack of grains, while on the other, a minority enjoys all the luxuries and pleasures. While the rich waste enormous amount of food the majority lives below poverty line.”


Behind The Landscape


21st Jan – 29th Feb


06:00pm – 08:00pm


Instituto Cervantes, Building No. 48, Hanuman Road, Near Hanuman Mandir, Connaught Place, Central, Delhi NCR

Miguel Angel Garcia – Behind The Landscape is a solo exhibition that comes as part of the series that is – Plastic Art And Architecture. In art, one of the most common issues is the landscape. Miguel’s work here is to understand the intricacies, inner space and the overall ideology; from an artists point of view.

Miguel Angel Garcia, a photographer and visual artist who has formed his work on the experimentation and fusion of disciplines and techniques around the world image.Many of his new projects are highlighted by an intense documentary work. His primary focus is on showcasing the landscapes, depicting meanings of the images into layers, as a synthesis and reflection on what each photograph shows and hides.

Timings: 6 – 8pm (weekdays)
11 – 7pm (weekends)
Monday closed

Price: free entry

Vineet Kacker: New Solo


3rd Feb – 29th Feb


11:00am – 07:00pm


Art Positive, F – 213/B, Old MB Road, Lado Sarai, Near MCD Community Center, Mehrauli, South, Delhi NCR

Vineet Kacker’s new solo exhibition – ‘Should I look for You, Should I lose myself’, will be showcased at Art Positive Gallery, curated by Anu Bajaj, director of the gallery.  This new exhibition of his takes inspiration from the artists personal interaction with mystical philosophy.  Focusing on ceramic art, after his formal training, there will be a video exhibition along with display of ‘Silence Violence’, exploring the seeds of violence and silence that is there in all of us.

Lines And Colours


31st Jan – 28th Feb


11:00am – 07:00pm


Aakriti Art Gallery, F 213/A, Old MB Road, Lado Sarai, Mehrauli, South, Delhi NCR

A solo art exhibition by artist Ram Kumar, Lines and Colours, is curted by Pragya Shukla. The month long exhibition will be showcasing a collection of art work by Ram Kumar, including small formal works and work done with ink and pastel colours, over the last five years. Panning across India, the exhibition will go from Delhi to Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata.

Ram Kumar is known to be amongst the first generation of artists, post independence. He began his journey after studying from Sharada Ukil School Of Art, after which he travelled to Paris, to train under Andre Lhote and Fernand Legar.

Roots By Anita


29th Jan – 25th Feb


11:00am – 07:00pm


Art Laureate, F–213A, Lado Sarai, Saket, South, Delhi NCR

Art Laureate present a solo exhibition – Roots, by Anita. Taking inspiration from trees, who are rooted to the ground, yet reach for the sky; Anita’s work takes strong connotation from the same phenomena. Taking instances from the past, grandma’s stories, mud utensils and village folk tales, the exhibition is a depiction of contemporary philosophy.

A Trio Sculpture Show


9th Feb – 25th Feb


11:00am – 07:00pm


Chawla Art Gallery, Square One Mall, C-2, Ground Floor, District Centre, In Square One Mall, Saket, South, Delhi NCR

A trio sculpture show by –  Prodosh Das Gupta, Ankit Patel and  Tapas Sarkar, the display comes as a distinct opportunity for the art lovers and art connoisseur to feast their eyes to a range of sculptures. The key to the exhibition is the varied style by both masters and contemporary artists on bronze.  With each sculpture, one can observe the complicated search, by the artist, of aesthetic possibilities.

Tales Of Life And Beyond


21st Feb – 27th Feb


11:00am – 06:00pm


Lalit Kala Akademi, 35, Ferozeshah Road, Rabindra Bhawan, Mandi House, Near Doordarshan Building, Connaught Place, Central, Delhi NCR

Tales Of Life And Beyond, is an exhibition that will be showcasing the solo artwork by Parul.  From a very young age, she was drawn to the imaginary world that surrounds us, and in her work here one can notice the expression of the same, using vivid colourful hues. Different tones of human emotions ranging from happiness to bliss, hope and despair can be seen reflecting on the canvas.


Spires In The Sky


20th Feb – 13th Mar


10:00am – 07:00pm


Gallery Gitanjali, E – 212, 31st January Road, Mala Fontainhas, Near Panjim People’s, Panaji, North, Goa

Spires In The Sky is a lyrical meditation of the Churchscapes of Goa by Sadguru Chendvankar. The visual poetry in Sadguru’s paintings, with their compositional symmetry and almost geometrical rhythm, have for long evoked a visceral yet meditative response in the viewer. The elegance of his composition lies in his ability to create layer by layer, an endearing yet intriguing landscape of the land he loves, not just as a place, but as a state of mind.

An Institute in himself, the septuagenarian Sadguru has been a mentor to generations of Goan artists for over 3 decades. A printmaker by training and an expert in cold ceramics, Sadguru enjoys exploring different mediums and this reflects in his body of work. He has studied at the J.J. School of Art in Mumbai and has won several acclaimed awards.


Terra cotta, also known as ‘baked earth,’ has been employed as an art medium since ancient times in cultures throughout the world. The natural clay of its composition gives the terra cotta its characteristic orange-brown or reddish-brown colour. Depending on the clay, the colour will vary, but it may also be readily found in yellow, gray, or other shades. Terra cotta is fired upon drying in order to harden for use. Though not inherently waterproof, terra cotta, even during the period of antiquity, could be waterproofed by burnishing its surface before firing and later applying a glaze which allows the item to become completely waterproof.

From Mohenjo-Daro, modern Pakistan, 3rd-2nd millennium BC ‘Timeless’ There are two broad traditions of sculptural representation in Indian terracotta art

As a pottery material, terra cotta has a long history that stretches back to the period of 3000 B.C. to the ancient site of Mohenjo-daro and areas of Mesopotamia. Though the earliest bricks made of clay were left to bake in the sun, objects were eventually fired as a true ceramic for a variety of uses that include functional items like pitchers and pots to funerary statues that were placed in tombs. Though widely used in Mesopotamia and later by Europeans and Pre-Columbian peoples of the Americas, the Chinese used terracotta extensively. In addition, some of the earliest plumbing piping was composed of terra cotta.

Pre-columbian art – Mochica erotic terracotta

While a telltale material for making garden pots today, terra cotta has long been used as a roofing material; the ancients used terra cotta to make roof tiles. Advances in terra cotta production made it appropriate for use in architecture; unglazed terra cotta was a popular architectural material for making facades during the Victorian period for example. Even since the ancient period in many parts of the world terra cotta was used for ornamentation, particularly as relief sculptures. Free-standing sculpture was also widely used among historical artisans.

Bishnupur Terracota art – Bengal, India

There are many well-known art works and artefacts composed of terra cotta. One of the most astounding works of terra cotta is the terra cotta army of Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang; the extensive terra cotta army is made up of more than 8,000 life-size warriors, horses, chariots, and weaponry which were buried along with the emperor around the year 209 B.C.

The tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang contains an estimated 7,000 lifelike clay soldiers, accompanied by weapons such as bronze swords and bows and arrows

The Kantajew Temple terra cotta structure and designs of Bangladesh are also world-famous and date to 1722. Birmingham, England’s Bell Edison Telephone Building is famously designed with architectural terra cotta and red brick. Terra cotta adornment can also be found in China’s Forbidden City.

Kantajew Temple. Kantaji Temple Dinajpur Bangladesh

As an art medium, terra cotta has long been favoured as a sculpting and ceramic material because it is easy to mould and is an easily procured natural material. Though a staple of ancient art design, terra cotta is still widely used around the world as an art medium today.

The Bell Edison Telephone Building (17-19 Newhall Street), Birmingham


Art Nouveau, or the French term for “New Art,” is a colourful movement in the arts that captivated Europe during the transition from the 19th century to the 20th century. In other languages, Art Nouveau had other names, such as “Stile Liberty” in Italy and “Jugendstil” or “youth style” in German.

Art Nouveau Cover

Right before art lovers would begin riding in motor cars, watching moving pictures, and bracing for the First World War, they would flip through bright magazines of Art Nouveau styles. This cultural movement included decorative and applied arts, architecture, and painting during the years 1890 to 1905.

The Scream – Munch

An early example of the paintings of Art Nouveau is Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” This painting was created in 1893 and later displayed during the artist’s first Paris show at La Maison de l’Art Nouveaux gallery. This location was the interior design house for which Art Nouveau is named. Now “The Scream” hangs in the National Gallery in Oslo, Norway.

Art Nouveau design

Photographic images of paintings, prints, architecture, interior design, and decorative works were displayed as photographic images in Art Nouveau publications. These magazines, including “Art Nouveau” magazine, were distributed around Europe due to advances in printing.

A large and rare example of Van de Velde’s only poster design, drawn in 1898

The print manifestations of Art nouveau are important for understanding the movement. The lithograph “Tropon” by Henry van de Velde (1898) shows the distinct colour choices of an Art Nouveau Print with brilliant ochre, dull green, and orange, combined with the letters of the word “tropon.” This simple composition combines a new style of colour choices with the curvy lines.

According to the “Grove Dictionary of Art,” Art Nouveau also served as an important link between Neoclassicism, which focused on classic art periods including Greek, Roman, and Renaissance themes, transitioned art to the modernist movements. Art Nouveau ended at the same time as Cubism and Surrealism were beginning.

What sets Art Nouveau apart from the Neoclassicist forms of art is the attempt by its artists to create a truly new form of art that did not mimic the past. The movement also sought to create an international style.

Art Nouveau in Paris – even today

When tourists visit Paris in the 21st century, it is easy to look around and see the lasting impact of Art Nouveau designs, including prints, pictures, signs, and wallpaper in public places and in the windows of cafes and brasseries.

Brussels Art Nouveau

In European hotels preserved from this time period, architecture and interior design examples survive today much like the boutique hotels of Miami’s South Beach preserve the Art Deco style of buildings and interior design.

Art Nouveau architecture – the curvilinear in art

The Art Nouveau movement produced new themes in architecture. Curvy lines known as curvilinear in art, asymmetrical shapes and forms, surfaces with leaf and vine decorations, and other patterns characterize Art Nouveau buildings.

Hector Guimard, Parisian metro, 1902

Architect Hector Guimard’s work shows how Art Nouveau produced works for the public enjoyment. Guimard designed decorative entries to Paris Metro subway) stations still visible today.

Stairway of Tassel House, Brussels – created by Victor Horta

In another expressive form, Victor Horta created ornate staircases in Brussels homes, especially the “Maison and Atelier” staircase. In Barcelona, Spain, Antoni Gaudi created La Casa Mila in 1905 to 1907. His free forms are asymmetrical and reflect the absence of straight lines.

Casa Milà, popularly known as La Pedrera, is a most unusual building, constructed between 1906 and 1912 by Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) in 1984

The Casa Mila shares the absence of symmetry that soon found new expressions in other art forms. For example, in the first Cubist works of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, symmetry is noticeably missing. In Picasso’s “The Three Women,” human forms lack geometric proportions and breaks with tradition in the same way as Gaudi’s architectural style.

Gamble frontdoor – A Greene and Greene design, the Gamble House made extensive use of Art Nouveau

The brilliant interior design that started in this time period is evident today in the United States of America. Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) is the son of Charles Tiffany. Louis began creating his famous lamps at the turn of the century. He performed commissions for noted Americans such as Mark Twain and Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Tiffany ceiling light

Tiffany’s work is preserved at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. As an artist and designer, Tiffany was very prolific in the creation of lamps, drawings, paintings, stained glass windows, mosaics, ceramics, and jewellery.

Tiffany Studios Ceramic “Mushroom” Vase

The famous jewellery house, Tiffany & Company, founded by Charles Tiffany, is the same firm for which Louis became the first design director in 1902 in the middle of the Art Nouveau period. Today, Tiffany & Company sells magnificent pieces of jewellery and other collectibles to the rich and famous.

Tiffany Jewellery Bracelet Charms


Rajyashree Randhawa is not a trained painter, but an artist whose passion for painting has drawn her to paint from a very early age. She is happy to be able to have been able to pursue her childhood love when she grew up.

Rajyashree has a natural flair for colour and her palette is vibrant and lines bold and sure. She likes to draw on natural beauty. Her work is diverse – ranging from Hindu deities to images of nature.

Her background is as interesting as her output. After her formative years at Calcutta International School, Rajyashree took time to travel all round the world. It is from her travels that she picked up many ideas, but her themes then turned to her native forms and hues.

A multi-faceted person, the Rajyashree most people know is that of a sporting personality. She played tennis at the South Club – for long the Mecca of Indian tennis.

She also ran her own beauty parlour, along with her mother.

Rajyashree’s sporting side is now complemented by her marriage to one of India’s top golfers, Bunty Randhawa. And she is the proud mother of a son, Rajvir.



19th Feb – 5th Mar


01:00pm – 08:00pm


The Harrington Street Arts Centre, Flat No. 5 and 25B, 2nd Floor, Street No. 8, Harrington Mansion, Opposite The American Consulate, Ho Chi Minh Sarani, Central, Kolkata

The Harrington Street Arts Centre presents Sketches, Scribbles, Drawings by K.G.Subramanyan. The exhibition will showcase recent works by the artist that highlights the different aspects of human life. K.G.Subramanyan is one of the well-known artists in the country and is regarded as a pioneer of Indian modern art. The artist has been bestowed with several prestigious awards including the Padma Vibhushan in 2012.

Entry is free.

Art Exhibition By Bani Abidi


15th Feb – 27th Feb


03:00pm – 07:00pm


Experimenter – Contemporary Art Gallery, 2/1 Hindustan Road, Near ICICI Bank, Gariahat, South, Kolkata

Experimenter , the contemporary art gallery presents ‘The Man Who Clapped for 97 Hours’ — an art exhibition by Bani Abidi. This watercolour and video installation exhibition traces the economic, cultural and demographic changes in her home-town Karachi. Bani Abidi is a Pakistani artist and did her graduation in fine arts from the National College of Arts, Lahore. She has exhibited her works at some of the well-known art galleries across the globe, including Guggenheim Museum, New York;  Gallery TPW – Toronto; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and The British Museum, London, among others.

Entry is free.

Vietnam New Perspectives: Art Exhibition


28th Jan – 6th Mar


12:00pm – 08:00pm


Milan Mela Ground, 3, JBS Haldane Avenue, Near Science City, E.M Bypass, East, Kolkata

Alliance Française Du Bengale and International Kolkata Book Fair presents ‘Art Crosses Boundaries: Vietnam In India’ – an art exhibition that brings to you six contemporary Vietnamese artists  that gives a sneak peek into comprehensive panorama of Vietnam’s artistic scene. The artists whose art works will be on display include Nguyen Quy Kien, Pham Huy Hung, Tao Thi Thu Huong and Nguyen Xuan Lang among others.

Emerging Artists: Exhibition


1st Feb – 31st Mar


12:00pm – 07:30pm


Ahuja Museum For Arts, 26, Ground Floor, Lee Road, Near Forum, Park Street, Central, Kolkata

Ahuja Museum for Arts presents ‘Emerging Artists’- an exhibition of paintings showcasing the different aspects of nature and urban life. On display will be paintings by artists such as Avijit Mukherjee,Farhad Hussain, Rathin Mitra,  Amal Ghosh, Avijit Sil, Sasanka Ghosh, Swapan Sarkar, Saugata Das and Sayak Mitra. From sketches to acrylic paintings, art lovers will get to enjoy different kinds of art forms at this exhibition.


Since we discussed beads and beadmaking techniques in art in the last week, it is only a natural progression to talk about bone – which is a related subject. Bones, shaped and worked upon, have been used as beads in various forms. In this article we shall address bones and the techniques used on them to create art.

Beads made of bone

The practice of rendering bone into a work of art dates back to the prehistoric past. Bone carving has been associated with many civilizations around the world that favoured it as an art medium. Art works featuring animal bones were typically associated with ceremony, ritual, and religion.

Bone sword

Artisans sometimes made cuts in the bone or carved intricate designs into it. Bone may have been fashioned into ornaments for the home as well as jewellery worn by men, women, and children. Artisans developed many techniques for working with bone to render it into their desired forms or to employ their patterned designs.

HMS Agamemnon and USNS Niagara Laying Atlantic Cable

Scrimshaw is one of the most widely known types of bone art. Aside from bone, artisans–often sailors or whalers–would use ivory, as well, to carve the natural material or to decorate it with scrollwork or engravings. Scrimshaw material was usually a by-product of marine life.

Scrimshaw desk display piece on mammoth ivory

The art of scrimshaw was favoured by whalers as a pastime during their long voyages, some of which could last several years while they hunted for whales in the far-off southern seas. The bones of baleen and sperm whales were some favourite types of bone used by scrimshaw artists.

Historians assert that the practice of scrimshaw dates to roughly the mid-1700s aboard voyaging whale ships. The practice continued until whaling became banned. Artisans, known as scrimshanders, often employed common tools to form their designs. Items like sailing needles or small knives were used to make elaborate designs. These designs might reflect the likeness of a fellow sailor or a sweetheart.

Scrimshaw Lighthouse

Some depicted marine scenes such as islands, whales, or ships. Scrimshaw is not widely practiced today and those who do work in the form use alternate material instead of ivory or bone. Many of the best examples of scrimshaw are housed in museums. Scrimshaw artefacts are extremely collectible today.

Ivory Double Dragons Tusk Mammoth Ivory Tusk art Carving 10,000 Years Old Wooley Mammoth Ivory Carving

Ancient artisans during the prehistoric era favoured mammoth bones and tusks for carving or forming into jewellery. Many native cultures the world over employed bone for wearing as jewellery. These roughly-hewn ornaments might have a spiritual component that connected the human who wore it to an animal spirit. Native Americans often wore the bones of animals for reasons of ritual and religion. Moreover, bone could be fashioned into functional items needed by the culture.

Ancient shrine unearthed

Fishing hooks and spear tips, for instance, have been made from bone by various tribes like the Maori of New Zealand. In many parts of the world, native cultures still use bone to make tools and objects of art.

Maori bone fishhooks


In keeping with the spirit of the Surajkund Crafts fair – which is the largest one in the world, which is still on now and closing in three days – we have decided to write a little about the great history of Indian crafts and the glorious tradition of several kinds of handicraft work today.

Arts and crafts from the Indus Valley Civilization

The history of Indian handicrafts goes back to almost 5000 years from now. There are numerous examples of handicrafts from the Indus Valley Civilization. The tradition of crafts in India has grown around religious values, needs of the common people and also the needs of the ruling elites. In addition to this foreign and domestic trade have also played an important role in the evolution of different craft forms in India. The craft traditions of India have withstood the depredation of time and several foreign invasions and continue to flourish till date. It is mainly due to the open mindedness of the Indian handicraftsmen to accept and assimilate new ideas.

The Indus potter who made this pot decorated it with a snake and a flower

Going back to the Indus valley civilization we find a rich craft tradition and a high degree of technical excellence in the field of pottery, sculpture (metal, stone and terracotta), jewellery, weaving etc.

Sculpture of the Indus Valley Civilisation

The Harappan craftsmen not only catered to all the local needs but traded with the outside world via sea routes.

In the Vedic age (1500 B.C.), we find numerous references in the Vedas of artisans involved in pottery making, weaving, wood craft etc. The Rig Veda refers to a variety of pottery made from clay, wood and metal. There is a reference to weavers and weaving.

In the Mauryan age we find great development in the field of sculpture. In this period more than 84,000 stupas are said to be built in India, including the famous Sanchi Stupa, which has beautiful stone carving and relief work done on it.

Amaravati Stupa relief – The Shilpa Shastra in the oldest wood carving that can be found in India and this stone sculpture has set the standard as well as the guidelines for stone

Numerous sculptures from Bharhut, Mathura, Amravati, Vaishali, Sanchi etc show female figures adorned with a display of jewellery, which continues to inspire contemporary jewellery making. The period between 1st century B.C. and 1st century A.D. was a period of political confusion as a result of foreign invasions. The impact of this turmoil is visible in the amazing Buddhist sculptures from Taxila, Begram, Bamiyan, Swat valley etc.

Five gold Kushan items

During the Kushana period, jewellery, sculpture, textile making, leather products, metal working amongst many other practices were the main handicrafts that assimilated foreign influences and used them in accordance with the Indian setting.

The Ajanta and Ellora caves situated in Aurangabad exhibit incredible murals and paintings that reflect the magic of Tantric Hinduism

The Gupta age saw rapid advancement in the field of handicrafts and art forms. The murals at Ajanta and Ellora bear testimony to it.

Sculpture from the time of the Cholas – crafted with dignity and exquisite care
The Medieval period the handicraftsmen flourished in the field of pottery, weaving, wood carving, metal working, jewellery etc. The contribution of the Cholas and the Vijaynagar Empire in the field of bronze sculpture, silk weaving, jewellery, temple carving is simply unparalleled.

Mughal tabletop showing ethereal inlay work so characteristic of their time

The Mughal period was the golden period in the history of Indian art, craft and culture.

Antique Indian Silk with Silver Thread Brocade Textile. Mughal Dynasty

The Mughals brought with them a rich heritage. The Mughals introduced methods like inlay work, glass engraving, carpet weaving, brocades, and enamelling.

Mughal period Huqqa (water pipe) of emerald-green glass decorated with gold and yellow enamel


Suman Kalyan Ghosh is a Bengali artist who has worked and studied in many media – painting, graphics and also art history.

After completing his BFA in the Government College of Art and Craft in 1999, he went on to study for a Master’s degree in Graphics, in 2001, and for a further degree in Art History, in 2004, at the very famous MSU, Baroda.

Suman Kalyan is not a young artist of the sort we usually bring to you – but he is a student and hungry for the recognition of his style and his form of the abstract. Having completed his Junior Research Fellowship he is now a Senior Research Scholar at Rabindra Bharati University.

The vibrancy of his works and a certain contemporaneousness he brings to his paintings ensures his place with the Early Works Art Gallery.