Although a great deal of Indian secular art was produced, it was essentially made of perishable material and has not survived. What has survived in the medium of stone is religious art. In both Buddhist and Hindu art, symbolism in gesture, posture, and attribute contains many levels of meaning. In images of the Buddha, different hand positions (mudras) signify religious states, such as the Enlightenment (Nirvana), Meditation, and Preaching. In Hindu sculpture, deities (see Vishnu, Krishna, and Shiva) are frequently represented with many hands to indicate their power to perform multiple deeds at the same time, and the hands each carry their characteristic attributes. With the exception of Mughal art and architecture, which demands separate treatment, the major trends in Indian art–Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain–are discussed within this article.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.