ARTH 104/SARS 201: Arts of Asia: South Asia
Spring 2001
Instructor: Anna Sloan

This course will survey the arts of South Asia, from the earliest remains of Indus Valley civilization through the contemporary period. As a class we will focus on the following themes: 1) the processes by which artists find a visual language to tell stories or express abstract ideas; 2) the relationship between art and devotion in India; 3) processes of cultural synthesis and assimilation; 4) the relationship of visual forms produced in urban environments to those produced in rural settings; and 5) an awareness of the attitudes and agendas that have contributed to interpretations of South Asian art over the past centuries.


Required Books:
Dehejia, Vidya, Indian Art (London, 1997).
Eck, Diana, Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India (New York, 1998).

Recommended Reference Books:
Harle, J.C., The Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent (New York, 1990).
Zimmer, Heinrich, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization (Princeton, 1974.)

***all other readings will be on reserve in the Fine Arts Library.


Lecture Topics and Assignments:

Jan 16: Introduction to South Asiaís Continuity and Diversity

Jan 18: Indus Valley Civilization

Response Paper: Survey web sites devoted to the Indus Valley. Is archaeology objective? What is at stake in interpretations of the past? (1-2 pages, Due Jan 23)

Reading: Dehejia, pp. 25-38 and for the latest research on the Indus Valley, see the website of Jonathan M. Kenoyer and Richard Meadow (

Jan 23: Historical Approaches to Indiaís Past

Reading: Donald Stadtner, "New Approaches to South Asian Art," Art Journal 49 (1990), pp. 359-362.

Jan 25: The "Asokan" Pillar

Reading: John Irwin, "Asokan Pillars: A Reassessment of the Evidence: Parts I-IV," Burlington Magazine: Part I, (Nov 1973), pp. 706-20; and Part IV, (Nov 1976), pp. 734-53. Optional: Part 2, (Dec. 1974), pp. 712-27; and Part 3, (Oct 1975), pp. 631-43.

Feb 6: Urban and Sub-urban Art under the Mauryas

Reading: Dehejia, pp. 39-48.

Feb 8: The Stupa and Buddhist Narrative Art

Reading: Demi, The Buddha and Buddha Stories; Dehejia, Ch. 3: pp. 50-76; Dehejia, "On Modes of Narration in Early Buddhist Art," Art Bulletin 72 (1990), pp. 374-92.

 Feb 13: (cont.) The Stupa and Buddhist Stories in Stone

Response Paper: Media survey. Clip representations of dual alliances in the modern political sphere or examples of marketing aimed at two different populations. Write a brief description and analysis of your examples. (1-2 pages, Due Feb. 20)

Feb 15: Philadelphia Museum of Art Visit (meet at 11:00 in the Indian sculpture gallery, 2nd Floor)

Formal Analysis: comparison of sculpture from Mathura and Gandhara (5 pages, Due Feb 27)

Feb 20: Kushan arts at Gandhara and Mathura

Reading: Dehejia, Ch. 4, pp. 77-100.

Feb 22: Buddhist Cave Architecture

Reading: Dehejia, Ch. 5, pp. 102-124.

Feb 27: Buddhist Cave Architecture, continued: Painted Caves at Ajanta

Reading: Walter Spink, "The Splendour of Indraís Crown: A Study of the Mahayana Developments at Ajanta," Royal Society of Arts Journal (October, 1974), pp. 743-67.

Feb 29: No class (substitute Sunday, March 4, 2:30 pm, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Van Pelt Auditorium: renowned Bharata Natyam dancer, actress, and choreographer Mallika Sarabhai will present a dance performance created around the themes of the Indian paintings in the concurrent exhibition at the museum, "Intimate Worlds."

Response Paper: On the basis of the performance and exhibition, how is the medium of dance similar to or different from the medium of painting? (1-2 pages, due Mar 8)

Mar 6: Midterm

Mar 8: Manifestations of the Divine: Images in Ritual Practice

Reading: Diana Eck, Darsan

Mar 13 and 15: Spring Break

Mar 20: The Temple:

Reading: Michael W. Meister, "Fragments from a Divine Cosmology: Unfolding Forms on Indiaís Temple Walls," in Gods, Guardians, and Lovers, ed. V. Desai and D. Mason (New York, 1993); Dehejia, Chs. 6 and 7, pp. 136-182.

Mar 22: The Image in Context: Temple Worship, Festival Practice, and the Museum Podium

Reading: R. Davis, "Loss and Recovery of Ritual Self Among Hindu Images," Journal of Ritual Studies (Winter 1992), pp. 43-61; Dehejia, Ch. 10, pp. 231-246.

Mar 27: Islamic Interactions in India I

Reading: R. Eaton, "Temple Desecration in Pre-Modern India," Frontline, vol. 17, issue 25 (Dec 9-22, 2000) []; R. Eaton, "Temple Desecration and Indo-Muslim Sites," Frontline, vol. 17, issue 26 (Dec 23, 2000-Jan 5, 2001) [http;//]; Dehejia, Ch. 11, pp. 249-272.

Mar 29: Islamic Interactions in India II

Response Paper: Design an architectural structure that fulfills the functional requirements of a mosque, and expresses power and/or identity. You may include drawings, but must describe the components of the structure and its conception in words as well (5 pages, Due Apr 10).

Apr 3: Free Library of Philadelphia, Rare Book Room, 11:00 Ė 12:00 am (20th St. and the Parkway)

Apr 5: Indian Painting Traditions: the Great Synthesis

Reading: Dehejia, Ch. 11, pp. 249-272.

Apr 10: Form as Genealogy: the Patronage of the Mughals

Reading: Glenn Lowry, "Humayunís Tomb: Form, Function, and Meaning in Early Mughal Architecture," Muqarnas 4: 133-48.

Response Paper: Collect media images that incorporate visual forms and symbols to appropriate their power, legitimacy, or identity. (1-2 pages, Due Apr 19)

Apr 12: Painting in Akbarís Atelier: the Second Great Synthesis

Reading: P. Soucek, "Persian Artists in Mughal India: Influences and Transformations," Muqarnas 4 (1987), pp. 166-81.

Apr 17: Nur Jahanís Patronage, the Embroidery Trade, and the Floriated Surfaces of Mughal Architecture

Reading: J. Dickie, "The Mughal Garden: Gateway to Paradise," Muqarnas 3 (1985), pp. 128-37.

Apr 19: The Meaning of the Taj Mahal

Reading: W. Begley, "The Myth of the Taj Mahal and a New Theory of Its Symbolic Meaning," The Art Bulletin 61 (1979), pp. 7-37.

Apr 24: India On Canvas and Through the Lens: Representations of India in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Reading: Dehejia, Ch. 16, pp. 379-406.

Apr 26: Tradition and Modernity in 20th Century Art and Architecture

Reading: William J.R. Curtis, "Authenticity, Abstraction, and the Ancient Sense: Le Corbusierís and Louis Kahnís Ideas of Parliament," Perspecta 20 (1983), pp. 181-94; Dehejia, Epilogue, pp. 408-424.



***Please see me or email me well in advance regarding scheduling conflicts. WATU students should turn in drafts to the Writing Fellow on the due date, and have one week from that date to turn in the final draft.