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Indian Art and Calligraphy: An Immersive Exploration

6-Session Weekend Course

Sunday, February 23 to March 29, 2020 – 10:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Code: 1K00XM
$195 Member
$225 Non-Member
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Vasanta Vilasa "a poem on Spring", (detail), 1451, Guajarat, India, (Freer Gallery of Art)

Experience how the interplay of art, language, and music shaped the culture, religions, and history of India and the South Asian subcontinent. Join artist and museum docent Sushmita Mazumdar in the Freer|Sackler Galleries and in the classroom for a unique series that combines detailed looks at artworks and objects from a variety of periods and regions with the opportunity to try your hand at authentic calligraphy inspired by them.

Feb. 23  The Seated Ganesha

Sketch a 12th-century stone sculpture of the Hindu god Ganesha and hear how centuries-old Marathi songs from India’s West influence how people worship the god today. Then, learn to write two of Ganesha’s names in Sanskrit and Marathi using the Devnagari script.

March 1  The Vasanta Vilasa

View the beautiful Vasanta Vilasa, a 15th-century scroll embellished with 84 verses in the Devnagari script that celebrate springtime and Kama, god of love. Later, hear love songs from Bollywood movies and capture your favorite lyrics in the modern version of the scroll’s script.

March 8   The Tibetan Shrine Room

In a lamplit gallery filled with the sound of chants, encounter more than 200 pieces of Tibetan Buddhist art that evoke the sacred precincts of the Himalayas. In the classroom, view a Tibetan prayer flag and write its text in Bengali script.

March 15  A Quatrefoil Box

On a 17th-century spice box of pure gold decorated with gleaming enamel, sinuous lilies and furling leaves sway beneath the bud of a ruby finial. Similar delicate flower inlays adorn the iconic Taj Mahal. Lean to write the name of that fabled monument to love in two Northern Indian languages: Urdu, using the Persian script, and Hindi, in Devnagari script.

March 22   The Bodhisattva White Avalokiteshvara

View the elegant 14th-century sculpture of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, a popular guardian deity of the Kathmandu Valley in the Himalayas of Nepal. Then, write the god’s Sanskrit name in the Devnagari script.

March 29  The Child Saint Sambandar

Examine a 12th-century bronze sculpture of the child saint Sambandar who lived in the region that is now the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where his joyous songs in praise of Shiva are still sung. Afterward, explore the written Tamil language in calligraphy.

No experience in calligraphy or drawing is required. A supply list may be downloaded from this page no later than 2 weeks prior to the first session.

6 sessions; 3 hours each

S. Dillon Ripley Center
Room 3040
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)