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Indian & South Asian Drawings

India and South Asia have a rich and diverse heritage of drawing rooted in native and foreign traditions. The birthplace of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, this region’s drawings often depict the deities and leitmotifs of these respective religions. Indian and South Asian drawings are also influenced by Persian art from the 16th century and the period of British colonial rule. British settlers carried on the tradition of natural history drawing in India to document the exotic native species of flora and fauna.

One of India’s most appealing drawing styles features elaborate, colorful, and temporary geometric drawings made on the ground with rice flour, chalk, or white rock. Known as Kolam, these traditional Indian drawings are created outside of Indian homes as a welcoming invitation to both human and divine visitors. Kolams celebrate the impermanence of life as they are destroyed over the course of the day by wind, rain, and foot traffic.

Quick Facts

  • Vast Kolams are created for special occasions including weddings. These ceremonious drawings can encompass an entire street block and may include additional pigments rendered from red brick and limestone
  • Kolam designs are traditionally passed from mother to daughter, sometimes dating back centuries
  • Today, artists such as Sudobh Gupta and Atul Dodiya carry on the tradition of drawing in India, reflecting on both the native traditions as well as the legacy of British colonialism

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