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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

The Art of India: From the Indus Valley to Independence

4-Session Daytime Course

Monday, November 16 to December 7, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0491S

Cave painting of Bodhisattva Padmapani, in Ajanta, ca. 2nd century, B.C.


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.


From its origins in the ancient civilization along the Indus River to the present, the complex culture of South Asia has given rise to some of the world’s most remarkable artistic creations. In four sessions, Robert DeCaroli, professor in the department of history and art history at George Mason University, highlights the artistic traditions and historical changes within the Indian subcontinent from the earliest archaeological evidence to the onset of colonialism.

NOV 16  Origins of South Asian Culture

Explore the beginnings of South Asian culture in the Harappan civilization, the emergence of the Vedic tradition, and the development of the first large-scale empires in the Gangetic Basin. The early history of the Jain and Buddhist traditions are also discussed.

NOV 23  Kingdoms, Caves, and Temples

The arrival of the Kushan kings initiates a new burst of creative fervor that continues in the reigns of their successors, most notably among the renowned Satavahana and Gupta dynasties. The session considers new forms of figural art and the splendors of rock-cut architecture, and introduces the grand tradition of Hindu art and architecture.

NOV 30  Southern Dynasties and Northern Newcomers

Developments in the southern portions of the subcontinent are examined, with special attention to the Pallava and Chola courts, whose grand temples and spectacular bronze work are still a source of wonder. Also discussed are the new kingdoms formed in the north, whose rulers often embraced a new religious tradition, Islam.

DEC 7  The Mughal Court, the British Raj, and the Nationalists

Few moments in world cultural history can match the splendor of the Mughal court at its height. Yet as this empire’s power faded, a new group of foreign merchants and mercenaries brought European ideas to South Asia. The colonial period and the eventual rise of nationalist movements are discussed, with special attention to shifting traditions in painting and architecture.

4 sessions

World Art History Certificate core course: Earn 1 credit*


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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 core course credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.