Art 711: Seminar in Indian Art: Creation of an Iconic Sculpture Fall 1999

Jaffe room 201: Wednesday 2-5

Professor Michael W. Meister, office: Jaffe 308


South Asia has had a long figural tradition, but its religious art did not begin to focus on the human form without a period of exploration. This seminar will explore Indian sculpture from ca. 250 BC-700 AD and the issue of what is an icon.


The University of Pennsylvania's South Asia Art Archive ( ) is located at the east end of the South Asia Reference Room on the fifth floor, west end, of the Van Pelt library. This archive contains ca. 70,000 photographs of sculptures and monuments in India. To gain access to this archive please contact the South Asia bibliographer, David Nelson, or his staff.


Books available from the Penn Book Center (130 S. 34th St.):

Davis, Richard. Lives of Indian Images. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Eck, Diana. Darshan: Seeing the Divine Image in India, 3rd ed. New York: Columbia University Press.

Harle, James. The Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Zimmer, Heinrich. Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


Other Readings: Additional readings or references will be distributed or placed on reserve as needed (here is only a preliminary sample)

Hanfmann, George M. A., Classical Sculpture. Greenwich, Conn., New York Graphic Society, 1967 (introduction).

Kramrisch, Stella. Indian Sculpture. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1981 [New York, Oxford University Press, 1933].

Maxwell, T.S. Vishvarupa, Delhi : Oxford University Press, 1988.

Meister, Michael W., ed., Discourses on Shiva: Proceedings of a Symposium on the Nature of Religious Imagery, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984.

---------, "Man and Man-Lion: The Philadelphia Narasimha," Artibus Asiae 56 (1996): 291-301.

Nodelman, Sheldon, "How to Read a Roman Portrait," Art in America 63 (Jan./Feb. 1995): 26-33 (reprinted in Eve d'Ambra, Roman Art in Context, Prentice Hall,1993, pp. 10-26).

Renou, Louis. Religions of Ancient India. New York, Schocken Books, 1968.

Srinivasan. Doris Meth. Many Heads, Arms, and Eyes : origin, meaning, and form of multiplicity in Indian art. Leiden: Brill, 1997.



1908 Havell, E. B. (Ernest Binfield). Indian sculpture and painting, illustrated by typical masterpieces, with an explanation of their motives and ideals . London, J. Murray.

1911 Smith, Vincent Arthur, 1848-1920. A history of fine art in India and Ceylon, from the earliest times to the present . Oxford: Clarendon Press.

1913 Coomaraswamy, Ananda Kentish, 1877-1947. The arts & crafts of India & Ceylon. London, Edinburgh, T.N. Foulis.

1927 Coomaraswamy, Ananda Kentish. History of Indian and Indonesian art. London : E. Goldston ; New York : E. Weyhe.

1953 Rowland, Benjamin, 1904-1972. The art and architecture of India: Buddhist, Hindu, Jain. London ; Baltimore, USA : Penguin Books.

1955 Kramrisch, Stella, 1898-1995. The art of India, traditions of Indian sculpture, painting and architecture. London, Phaidon Publishers.

1976 Craven, Roy C. A concise history of Indian art. New York: Oxford University Press.

1984 Huntington, Susan L The art of ancient India; Buddhist, Hindu, Jain. New York : Weatherhill.

1986 Harle, J. C. The art and architecture of the Indian subcontinent. Middlesex, England : Penguin..

1997 Dehejia, Vidya. Indian art. London : Phaidon Press.

The most recent full survey of Indian sculpture is the new Grove Dictionary of Art in the Fine Arts Library reference room and on-line at (To use the on-line version from a U. Penn. connection, click on "Subscribers enter here" at the upper right).


First Assignment:

Western notions of Indian sculpture tend to focus on the plethora of divine images masking and ornamenting the great temples of medieval India, their myths, and their "unchanging" symbolism. Perhaps the finest introduction to this Indian (as well as Western) point of view is Heinrich Zimmer's set of lectures, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization. Please read quickly through this and write your thoughts on how he introduces and uses Indian sculpture.