Indian Miniatures 900-1700 A.D. Mughal Rajput Sikh Jain Pahari Rajasthan Basholi

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Seller: ancientgifts ✉️ (5,282) 100%, Location: Lummi Island, Washington, US, Ships to: WORLDWIDE, Item: 383567318239 Indian Miniatures 900-1700 A.D. Mughal Rajput Sikh Jain Pahari Rajasthan Basholi. Indian Miniatures by Mario Bussagli. NOTE: We have 75,000 books in our library, almost 10,000 different titles. Odds are we have other copies of this same title in varying conditions, some less expensive, some better condition. We might also have different editions as well (some paperback, some hardcover, oftentimes international editions). If you don’t see what you want, please contact us and ask. We’re happy to send you a summary of the differing conditions and prices we may have for the same title. DESCRIPTION: Hardback with Dust Jacket: 158 pages. Publisher: Paul Hamlyn; (1969). Size: 7½ x 5½ x ¾ inch; 1 pound. Pictorial art ranks as one of India’s foremost arts with literature, the theatre, and music. At one extreme there are the great cycles of mural paintings, in temples and palaces, and at the other there are the miniature paintings which, in spite of their size, are still able to express profound psychological and spiritual values. They serve not only an important religious function, but also touch upon the most varied aspects of secular life, with poetic as well as descriptive significance. The full flowering of miniature art began when India came into direct and violent contact with Islam, and reached its highest peak of splendor during the Mogul Empire between the 16th and 18th centuries. During this prolific renaissance, illustrated manuscripts, album miniatures, portraits, celebratory and genre scenes made their way all over India and eventually to Europe. Mario Bussagli describes the history of Indian miniature painting over the last 1,000 years, and in the notes accompanying the plates draws our attention to details of composition and style so that we may fully appreciate the beauty and significance of these most refined and delicate paintings. CONDITION: NEW. New hardcover w/dustjacket. Hamlyn/Cameo (1969) 158 pages. Unblemished except VERY slight edgewear to dustjacket. Shows absolutely no signs of ever having been read. Pages are pristine; clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, bound tightly as new. Very minimal wear consistent with new stock from an open-shelf book store. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! Selling rare and out-of-print ancient history books on-line since 1997. We accept returns for any reason within 30 days! #2073a. PLEASE SEE IMAGES BELOW FOR SAMPLE PAGES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK. PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW. PUBLISHER REVIEW: REVIEW: Reputed for their accurate details, brilliant colors, variant themes, intricate designs and perfect realism, the Indian Miniature paintings have fascinated art connoisseurs the world over. The history of this form of painting is as old as the civilization itself. The form of Indian Miniatures that we see today carry years of influence of various other art forms. The Jain Miniatures of the early Medieval period (approximately 13th to 16th century), developed through the Mughal (Persian), Rajput and Pahari (Himalayan) influences. Later on, the Europeans also left their indelible mark on these paintings. The more prominent among the various schools in Indian Miniature Paintings are the Jain paintings, Rajasthani, Mughal, and the Pahari schools. These are then further classified into the various other forms, such as the Basholi, Kangra, Kalighat and the Sikh styles. The rich heritage of Indian miniature painting has long been the delight of collectors and art historians. The collectibles presented illustrate fascinating myths and poetic scenes. Religion and secular literature provided the artists with sources of inspiration. Legends like Vishnu and Krishna were presented as a glorifying incarnation. In the eighteenth century new scenes were introduced. Miniatures are centered around energetic rhythms of hunting, festival celebrations or royal visits to holy men. Love scenes are nowadays a classic. Miniature artists claimed they were capable of putting in motion, the breeze which throws aside the veil from the face of the beautiful. PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS: REVIEW: This is part of the Cameo series of books on art and antiques originally published in 1966 in Italy; and eventually republished in 1969 by Octopus Books of London. Printed on a heavy coated stock, it includes 73 full color plates. Visually spectacular, it is also a very intellectually gratifying and educational read. It contains a remarkable survey of the East Indian art of miniature paintings, over one thousand years of history. A remarkable, elegant, and visually stunning publication. REVIEW: 73 Plates in beautiful full color throughout the book with 158 pages. Pictorial art is one of India's main arts. Mario Bussagli describes the last 1000 years of Indian miniature painting. Translated by Raymond Rudorff from the Italian original printing of 1966 in Milan, Italy. Cameo edition. READER REVIEWS: REVIEW: Magnificent! Perhaps too small be to called a “coffee table” book, but the quality and content are certainly in that realm. This is a wonderful, high quality book produced in the U.K. in English for distribution world wide. The full color plates are simply magnificent, and the images are of the most fabulous examples of Sardinian and Etruscan sculpture. A real visual extravaganza. High quality binding and great color prints! It is a wonderful reference for those interested in the history of ancient art and antiquities, with wonderful pictures even for whose who just want to admire the incredible richness of the art of East Indian miniatures. Still a wonderful reference despite being produced in 1966 (the ancient art remains absolutely unchanged). Truly enlightening with rapturous photographs, this was considered a classic and authoritative source when it was first published, and it remains so today. REVIEW: History of India's miniature painting over last 1000 years. Includes colorful paintings of gods and astrological signs as well as serving as an introduction to Indian culture. ANCIENT INDIA: The cities of Northern India's Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world, date back at least 5,000, probably 10,000 years. Aryan tribes from the northwest invaded about 1500 B.C.; their merger with the earlier inhabitants created classical Indian culture. The whole of the Punjab Region of present day India and Pakistan was part of the Indus Valley Civilization. Harappa and Mohenjodaro are sites where extensive remains of the Indus Valley Civilization have been found. The origins of this culture have been traced backwards to at least 7,000 B.C. to what is known to archaeology as the Mehar Garh civilization. Well developed in the ancient arts, they started wheel thrown pottery some 1500 years before the Persians learned this art. In the millennia to come this region became part of ancient Kingdom of Kush and the Achaemeaian Persian Empire, conquered by Alexander the Great and subsequently part of the Seleucid and Bactrian Greek Empire; conquered by the Scythians who in turn were overcome by the Parthians who struggled against the Roman Empire for centuries. Parthia was eventually conquered in the third century by the Sassanians. India gained control of the area through the 7th century, after which the region became part of the Muslim Empire under the great caliphates; then part of the Mogul Empire, and finally part of the British Commonwealth. The early history of this entire region is quite fuzzy, though it is mentioned in some of the 6th century B.C. inscriptions of Darius the Great at Beghistun as part of the Great Achaemenian Empire of Persia. The picture becomes sharper with the invasion of Alexander the Great, where a written history of the region is commenced by Arrian, who wrote in Greek an account of Alexander's Asiatic expeditions. Alexander had hardly left India when the region came under the sway of the Buddhist King Chandra Gupta who reigned 321-297 B. C. In 323 B. C. Alexander the Great died at Babylon. One of Alexander's generals, Seleucus Nicator, with Egyptian support established the Seleucid Dynasty which included a region including all or parts of Iran, Afghanistan, North Pakistan and Northwest India. About 20 years later Seleucus attempted to recover much of the formerly Greek territory held by Chandra Gupta, but ended up settling for a treaty in exchange for 500 elephants. Chandra Gupta was succeeded first by his son Bindusara and then by his famous grandson Asoka (269-227 B. C.). Asoka's fame rests chiefly on his position as the great patron of Buddhism. As such he has often been compared to Constantine the Great, the royal patron of Roman Christianity. The Greeks eventually gained influence over the area when under the Bactrian Greek King Demetrius II (180 - 165 B.C.) they overthrew allegiance to the Seleucids of Syria, crossed the Hindu Kush range and established their rule in what is now Central Asia, Afghanistan and Punjab. The most important Indo-Greek kings was Menander (Milinda) (155 BC - 130 BC) who is famous for converting to Buddhism. The Indo-Greeks were replaced by a group of Central Asian tribes known as the Scythians in the first century B.C. The Scythians then fell to the Parthians who had lived east of the Caspian Sea, whose empire stretched from the Euphrates to the Indus. During the first two centuries A.D. Kushans from Central Asia (Zoroastrians) established an empire which stretched to the River Ganges, ruling former Greek territory that covered Afghanistan, Pakistan and north-western India. The Zoroastrian Sassanian Empire from Iran emerged to crush the Kushan and Parthian Empires, the Sassanians in turn displaced by Muslims from Arabia in 633 A.D. For the next hundred years Islam spread throughout Afghanistan, Punjab, Sindh, Central Asia, North Africa, and finally even into Spain. Mahmud of Ghazni (998-1030 A.D.) was the first Turk to invade the region, attaching Punjab to his Central Asian empire, including Lahore to the Multan in the east; and Gujarat in the south. One of the greatest Islamic Kingdoms, the Abbbasid Caliphate with its capital in Baghdad, was recognized by the Ghaznavids who ruled (at the time this coin was struck) not only Lahore but also Kabul, Ghazni, Kandahar, Multan, and Kashmir; and whom also played the main part in the expansion of Islam into South Asia. The Ghaznavids were succeeded by Afghans from Ghor - the Ghurids Dynasty 1148-1206 A.D. The last Ghurid ruler of Afghanistan brought the whole of northern India under Islamic rule. However, the empire disintegrated when he was assassinated in 1206 A.D. The next great power of the region was a Muslim Turko-Mongol warrior named Timur (the “Earth Shaker”), who created a single unified empire that included much of Central Asia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and much of Pakistan including Lahore, and added Delhi to his empire in 1398 A.D. Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur - the Tiger (a descendent of Timur), invaded Afghanistan and seized power from the existing Muslim rulers, forming the foundation and first capital of the Mughal Empire, taking Lahore in 1524 A.D. In 1526 at the Battle of Panipat, Babur defeated the last Lodhi called Ibrahim who had ruled Delhi, Bihar and Punjab. Babur used guns, matchlocks and mortars which have not been seen in South Asia before. With this victory, he gained control of Delhi and Agra, and eventually advanced deep into South Asia. The objective of the Mughal Empire was to colonize the whole peninsula of South Asia, even if it meant compromising with the religion of Islam by making alliances with non-Muslims, so as to bring the vast continent of different nations under a single unified administration. The task was completed by the British Raj, who virtually inherited the Mughal administration and ruled through 1947 when the Indian subcontinent gained its independence as India, West, and East Pakistan. [AncientGifts]. ANCIENT INDIA: The evidence for human activities in India go back to the Paleolithic Age, roughly between 400,000 and 200,000 B.C. Stone implements and cave paintings from this period have been discovered in many parts of the South Asia. Evidence of domestication of animals, the adoption of agriculture, permanent village settlements, and wheel-turned pottery dating from the middle of the sixth millennium B.C. have all been found in the foothills of Sindh and Baluchistan, both in present-day Pakistan. One of the first great civilizations--with a writing system, urban centers, and a diversified social and economic system--appeared around 3,000 B.C. along the Indus River valley in Punjab and Sindh. It covered more than 800,000 square kilometers, from the borders of Baluchistan to the deserts of Rajasthan, from the Himalayan foothills to the southern tip of Gujarat. The remnants of two major cities--Mohenjo-daro and Harappa--reveal remarkable engineering feats of uniform urban planning and carefully executed layout, water supply, and drainage. Excavations at these sites and later archaeological digs at about seventy other locations in India and Pakistan provide a composite picture of what is now generally known as Harappan culture (2500-1600 B.C.). The major cities contained a few large buildings including a citadel, a large bath--perhaps for personal and communal ablution--Differentiated living quarters, flat-roofed brick houses, and fortified administrative or religious centers enclosing meeting halls and granaries. Essentially an urban city culture, Harappan life was supported by extensive agricultural production and by commerce, which included trade with Sumer in southern Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). The people made tools and weapons from copper and bronze but not iron. Cotton was woven and dyed for clothing. Wheat, rice, and a variety of vegetables and fruits were cultivated. A number of animals, including the humped bull, were domesticated. Harappan culture was conservative and remained relatively unchanged for centuries. Whenever cities were rebuilt after periodic flooding, the new level of construction closely followed the previous pattern. Although stability, regularity, and conservatism seem to have been the hallmarks of this people, it is unclear who wielded authority, whether an aristocratic, priestly, or commercial minority. By far the most exquisite but most obscure Harappan artifacts unearthed to date are steatite seals found in abundance at Mohenjo-daro. These small, flat, and mostly square objects with human or animal motifs provide the most accurate picture we possess of Harappan life. Some also have inscriptions generally thought to be in the Harappan script, which has eluded scholarly attempts at deciphering it. Debate abounds as to whether the script represents numbers or an alphabet. The possible reasons for the decline of Harappan civilization have long troubled scholars. Invaders from Central and Western Asia are considered by some historians to have been the "destroyers" of Harappan cities. However this view is open to reinterpretation. Other plausible explanations are recurrent floods caused by tectonic earth movement, soil salinity, and desertification. It is certain that a series of migrations by Indo-European-speaking semi-nomads took place during the second millennium B.C. Known as Aryans, these preliterate pastoralists spoke an early form of Sanskrit, which has close similarities to other Indo-European languages, such as Avestan in Iran and ancient Greek and Latin. The term Aryan meant “pure” and implied the invaders' conscious attempts at retaining their tribal identity and roots while maintaining a social distance from earlier inhabitants. Although archaeology has not yielded proof of the identity of the specific identity and origin of the Aryans, the evolution and spread of their culture across the Indo-Gangetic Plain is generally undisputed. Modern knowledge of the early stages of this process rests on a body of sacred texts: the four Vedas (collections of hymns, prayers, and liturgy), the Brahmanas and the Upanishads (commentaries on Vedic rituals and philosophical treatises), and the Puranas (traditional mythic-historical works). The sanctity accorded to these texts and the manner of their preservation over several millennia--by an unbroken oral tradition--make them part of the living Hindu tradition. These sacred texts offer clues in piecing together Aryan beliefs and activities. The Aryans were a pantheistic people, following their tribal chieftain or raja, engaging in wars with each other or with other alien ethnic groups, and slowly becoming settled agriculturalists with consolidated territories and differentiated occupations. Their skills in using horse-drawn chariots and their knowledge of astronomy and mathematics gave them a military and technological advantage that led others to accept their social customs and religious beliefs. By around 1,000 B.C., Aryan culture had spread over most of northern India and in the process assimilated much from other cultures that preceded it. The Aryans brought with them a new language, a new pantheon of anthropomorphic gods, a patrilineal and patriarchal family system, and a new social order, built on the religious and philosophical rationales of varnashramadharma. A precise translation of the concept of varnashramadharma into English is difficult. But it is the bedrock of Indian traditional social organization. The word can be broken into three components which correspond with its three fundamental concepts. First is varna (originally, skin "color," but later taken to mean social class). Second is ashrama (stages of life such as youth, family life, detachment from the material world, and renunciation). Last is dharma (duty, righteousness, or sacred cosmic law). The underlying concept is that present happiness and future salvation are contingent upon one's ethical or moral conduct. It follows therefore that both society and individuals are expected to pursue a diverse but righteous path deemed appropriate for everyone based on one's birth, age, and station in life. Originally this encompassed a three-tiered society. The three tiers were: “Brahman” (priest), “Kshatriya” (warrior), and “Vaishya” (commoner). However the concept eventually expanded into four social tiers in order to absorb the subjugated people, “Shudra” (servant). It could be argued that there was a fifth tier when the outcaste (“Harijan”) peoples are considered. The basic unit of Aryan society was the extended and patriarchal family. A cluster of related families constituted a village, while several villages formed a tribal unit. Child marriage, as practiced in later eras, was uncommon. However the parents' involvement in the selection of a mate, dowry, and bride-price were customary. The birth of a son was welcome because he could later tend the herds, bring honor in battle, offer sacrifices to the gods, inherit property, and pass on the family name. Monogamy was widely accepted although polygamy was not unknown. Even polyandry is mentioned in later writings. Ritual suicide of widows was expected at a husband's death. This possibly might have been the origin of the practice known as “sati” in later centuries. In the practice of “sati” the widow actually burnt herself on her husband's funeral pyre. Permanent settlements and agriculture led to trade and other occupational differentiation. As lands along the Ganges were cleared, the river became a trade route. The numerous settlements on the river banks acted as markets. Trade was restricted initially to local areas, and barter was an essential component of trade. Cattle were the unit of value in large-scale transactions, which rather limited the geographical reach of the trader. Custom was law, and kings and chief priests were the arbiters, perhaps advised by certain elders of the community. An Aryan raja, or king, was primarily a military leader. He was entitled to a share from the booty following successful cattle raids or battles. Although the rajas had managed to assert their authority, they scrupulously avoided conflicts with priests as a group. The rajas suborned their own interests to those of the priests. Between about 1500 and 800 B.C the Aryans began to penetrate eastward from their original settlements in the Punjab region. The Aryans gradually cleared dense forests and established "tribal" settlements along the Ganges and inland Jamuna plains. By around 500 B.C., most of northern India was inhabited and had been brought under cultivation. There developed increasing knowledge of the use of iron implements, including ox-drawn plows. This in turn facilitated a growing population that provided voluntary and forced labor. As river-based and inland trade flourished, many towns along the Ganges became centers of trade, culture, and luxurious living. Increasing population and surplus production spurred the emergence of independent states. These states had fluid territorial boundaries over which disputes frequently arose. Rudimentary administrative systems headed by tribal chieftains were absorbed by larger regional republics or hereditary monarchies. These devised ways to appropriate revenue and to conscript labor for expanding the areas of settlement and agriculture farther east and south. These emergent states collected revenue through officials, maintained armies, and built new cities and highways. By 600 B.C. sixteen such territorial powers stretched across the North India plains from modern-day Afghanistan to Bangladesh. They included the Magadha, Kosala, Kuru, and Gandhara. The right of a king to his throne, no matter how it was gained, was usually legitimized through elaborate sacrifice rituals and genealogies. These were concocted by co-conspiring priests who ascribed to the king divine or superhuman origins. This period also gave birth to two of India’s most significant epics (comparable perhaps to the Odyssey or the Iliad, or even the Bible in the West). The victory of good over evil is epitomized in the epic Ramayana (“The Travels of Rama”). A second epic, Mahabharata (“Great Battle of the Descendants of Bharata”), spells out the concept of dharma and duty. The Mahabharata records the feud between Aryan cousins that culminated in an epic battle in which both gods and mortals from many lands allegedly fought to the death. The Ramayana recounts the kidnapping of Sita, Rama's wife, by Ravana. Ravana was a demonic king of Lanka (Sri Lanka). The kidnapping is succeeded by a rescue of Sita by her husband Rama. Rama was aided by animal allies. The epic concludes with Rama's coronation, leading to a period of prosperity and justice. These epics remain dear to the hearts of Hindus and are commonly read and enacted in many settings. By the end of the sixth century B.C., India's northwest was integrated into the Persian Achaemenid Empire and became one of its satrapies. This integration marked the beginning of administrative contacts between Central Asia and India. Indian accounts to a large extent ignored Alexander the Great's Indus campaign in 326 B.C. However contemporaneous Greek writers recorded their impressions of the general conditions prevailing in South Asia. Thus, the year 326 B.C. provides the first clear and historically verifiable date in Indian history. A two-way cultural fusion between several Indo-Greek elements occurred in the next several centuries, especially in art, architecture, and coinage. North India's political landscape was transformed by the emergence of Magadha in the eastern Indo-Gangetic Plain. Magadha’s capital city was Pataliputra, near modern-day Patna, in Bihar. In 322 B.C. under the rule of Chandragupta Maurya (who ruled from 324 to 301 B.C.), Magadha began to assert its hegemony over neighboring areas. In the process Magadha became India’s first imperial power, the Mauryan Empire, which lasted from 326 to 184 B.C. Situated on rich alluvial soil and near mineral deposits, especially iron, Magadha was at the center of bustling commerce and trade. Megasthenes, the third-century B.C. Greek historian and ambassador to the Mauryan court, reported that the capital was a city of magnificent palaces, temples, a university, a library, gardens, and parks. Legend states that Chandragupta's success was due in large measure to his adviser Kautilya, the Brahman author of the Arthashastra (“Science of Material Gain”), a textbook that outlined governmental administration and political strategy. There was a highly centralized and hierarchical government with a large staff. This administration regulated tax collection, trade and commerce, industrial arts, mining, vital statistics, welfare of foreigners, maintenance of public places including markets and temples, and prostitutes. A large standing army and a well-developed espionage system were maintained. The empire was divided into provinces, districts, and villages governed by a host of centrally appointed local officials, who replicated the functions of the central administration. Grandson of Chandragupta, Ashoka, ruled from 269 to 232 B.C. Ashoka was one of India's most illustrious rulers. Ashoka's inscriptions were chiseled on rocks and stone pillars located at strategic locations throughout his empire. These inscriptions can be found throughout an enormous georgraphic area, from such locales as Lampaka (Laghman in modern Afghanistan), Mahastan (in modern Bangladesh), and Brahmagiri (in Karnataka). Taken together they constitute the second set of datable historical records. According to some of the inscriptions Ashoka renounced bloodshed and pursued a policy of nonviolence or ahimsa. This was in the aftermath of the carnage resulting from his campaign against the powerful kingdom of Kalinga (modern Orissa). Thereafter Ashoka espoused a theory of rule by righteousness. His toleration for different religious beliefs and languages reflected the realities of India's regional pluralism, although indications are that he personally followed Buddhism. Early Buddhist records assert he convened a Buddhist council at his capital. That he regularly undertook tours within his realm. And that he sent Buddhist missionary ambassadors to Sri Lanka. Contacts established with the Hellenistic world during the reign of Ashoka's predecessors served him well. He sent diplomatic-cum-religious missions to the rulers of Syria, Macedonia, and Epirus, who learned about India's religious traditions, especially Buddhism. India's northwest retained many Persian cultural elements, which might explain Ashoka's rock inscriptions. Such inscriptions were commonly associated with Persian rulers. Ashoka's Greek and Aramaic inscriptions found in Kandahar in Afghanistan may also reveal his desire to maintain ties with people outside of India. The Mauryan Empire disintegrated in the second century B.C. Thereafter South Asia became a collage of regional powers with overlapping boundaries. India's unguarded northwestern border again attracted a series of invaders between 200 B.C. and 300 A.D. As the Aryans had done, the invaders became "Indianized" in the process of their conquest and settlement. This period also witnessed remarkable intellectual and artistic achievements inspired by cultural diffusion and syncretism. The first new group of invaders, the Indo-Greeks (or “Bactrians”), contributed to the development of numismatics. The Bactrians settled into northwest India. They were followed by another group, the Shakas (or “Scythians”), from the steppes of Central Asia. The Scythians settled in western India. Still other nomadic people, the Yuezhi, were forced out of the Inner Asian steppes of Mongolia. The Yuezhi displaced and drove out the Scythians. For a period of roughly the first century B.C. through the third century A.D. the Yuezhi established the Kushana Kingdom. The Kushana Kingdom controlled parts of Afghanistan and Iran, and in India the realm stretched from Purushapura (modern Peshawar, Pakistan) in the northwest, to Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) in the east, and to Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh) in the south. For a short period, the kingdom reached still farther east, to Pataliputra. The Kushana Kingdom was the crucible of trade among the Indian, Persian, Chinese, and Roman Empires and controlled a critical part of the legendary Silk Road. The most noteworthy Kushana ruler was Kanishka, who reigned for two decades starting around A.D. 78. Initiating a new era called Shaka, he converted to Buddhism and convened a great Buddhist council in Kashmir. The Kushanas were patrons of Gandharan art, a synthesis between Greek and Indian styles, and Sanskrit literature. During the Kushana Dynasty, an indigenous power, the Satavahana Kingdom arose. They were in power in the Deccan in southern India for a period of approximately the first century B.C. through the third century A.D. The Satavahana, or “Andhra” Kingdom was considerably influenced by the Mauryan political model. Power was decentralized in the hands of local chieftains, who used the symbols of Vedic religion and upheld the Varnashramadharma. The rulers, however, were eclectic and patronized Buddhist monuments, such as those in Ellora (Maharashtra) and Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh). Thus, the Deccan served as a bridge through which politics, trade, and religious ideas could spread from the north to the south. Farther south were three ancient Tamil kingdoms. Chera was to the west), Chola to the east, and Pandya to the south. All three were frequently involved in internecine warfare to gain regional supremacy. They are mentioned in Greek and Ashokan sources as lying at the fringes of the Mauryan Empire. A corpus of ancient Tamil literature provides much useful information about their social life from 300 B.C. to 200 A.D. Known as Sangam (“academy”) works, they included Tolkappiam, a manual of Tamil grammar by Tolkappiyar. Though there existed a strong regional identity, the literature also provides clear evidence of assimilation of Aryan traditions from the north into a predominantly indigenous Dravidian culture in transition. Dravidian social order was based on different ecoregions rather than on the Aryan varna (or caste) hierarchy, although the Brahmans had a high status at a very early stage. Society was characterized by matriarchy and matrilineal succession, a trait which survived well into the nineteenth century. This included cross-cousin marriage. Tribal chieftains emerged as "kings" just as people moved from pastoralism toward agriculture. The regional agricultural system was sustained by irrigation derived from rivers, small-scale fish ponds, and a brisk maritime trade with Rome and Southeast Asia. Discoveries of Roman gold coins in various sites attest to extensive South Indian trade links with the outside world. The capital city of Madurai (in modern Tamil Nadu), was the center of intellectual and literary activities. In that regard it was similar to Pataliputra in the northeast and Taxila in the northwest (in modern Pakistan). By the end of the first century B.C., South Asia was crisscrossed by overland trade routes. These facilitated the movements of Buddhist and Jain missionaries and other travelers and opened the area to a synthesis of many cultures. The “Classical Age” refers to the period when most of North India was reunited under the Gupta Empire (approximately 320-550 A.D.). The era was characterized by relative peace, law and order, and extensive cultural achievements. Thus it is considered a "golden age" that crystallized the elements of what is generally known as Hindu culture with all its variety, contradiction, and synthesis. The “golden age” or “classical age” was confined to the north. The characteristics of the “Classical Age” began to spread south only after the Gupta Empire had vanished. The first three Gupta rulers were Chandragupta I (about 319-335 A.D.), Samudragupta (about 335-376 A.D.), and Chandragupta II (about 376-415 A.D.). Their military exploits brought all of North India under their leadership. The Gupta capital city was Pataliputra. From there the Gupta’s sought to retain political preeminence as much by pragmatism and judicious marriage alliances as by military strength. Despite their self-conferred titles, their over-lordship was threatened. Ultimately by 500 A.D. it was destroyed by the Hunas (White Huns emanating from Central Asia). The White Huns were yet another group in the long succession of ethnically and culturally different outsiders drawn into India and then woven into the hybrid Indian fabric. Under Harsha Vardhana (who reigned about 606-647 A.D.), North India was reunited briefly. However neither the Guptas nor Harsha controlled a centralized state. Their administrative styles relied on the collaboration of regional and local officials for administering their rule, rather than on centrally appointed personnel. The Gupta period marked a watershed of Indian culture. The Guptas performed Vedic sacrifices to legitimize their rule, but they also patronized Buddhism, which continued to provide an alternative to Brahman orthodoxy. The most significant achievements of this period, however, were in religion, education, mathematics, art, and Sanskrit literature and drama. The religion that later developed into modern Hinduism witnessed a crystallization of its components. These components were major sectarian deities, image worship, devotionalism, and the importance of the temple. Education included grammar, composition, logic, metaphysics, mathematics, medicine, and astronomy. These subjects became highly specialized and reached an advanced level. The Indian numeral system is oftentimes erroneously attributed to the Arabs. However the Arabs merely took it from India to Europe where it replaced the Roman system. The numeral and decimal systems are Indian inventions of this period. Expositions on astronomy in 499 A.D. gave calculations of the solar year and the shape and movement of astral bodies with a remarkable degree of accuracy. In medicine, Charaka and Sushruta wrote about a fully evolved system, resembling those of Hippocrates and Galen in Greece. Some progress in physiology and biology was hindered by religious injunctions against contact with dead bodies, which discouraged dissection and anatomy. Nonetheless Indian physicians excelled in pharmacopoeia, caesarean section, bone setting, and skin grafting. With the disintegration of the Gupta, the classical patterns of civilization continued to thrive not only in the middle Ganges Valley and the kingdoms that emerged on the heels of Gupta demise but also in the Deccan and in South India, which acquired more prominence. In fact, from the mid-seventh to the mid-thirteenth centuries, regionalism was the dominant theme of political or dynastic history of South Asia. Three features commonly characterized the sociopolitical realities of this period. First, the spread of Brahmanical religions was a two-way process of Sanskritization of local cults and localization of Brahmanical social order. Second was the ascendancy of the Brahman priestly and landowning groups that later dominated regional institutions and political developments. Third, because of the seesawing of numerous dynasties that had a remarkable ability to survive perennial military attacks, regional kingdoms faced frequent defeats but seldom total annihilation. Despite interregional conflicts, local autonomy was preserved to a far greater degree in the south where it had prevailed for centuries. The absence of a highly centralized government was associated with a corresponding local autonomy in the administration of villages and districts. Extensive and well-documented overland and maritime trade flourished with the Arabs on the west coast and with Southeast Asia. Trade facilitated cultural diffusion in Southeast Asia, where local elites selectively but willingly adopted Indian art, architecture, literature, and social customs. Despite the interdynastic rivalry and seasonal raids into each other's territory the rulers in the Deccan and South India patronized all three religions. The three were Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. The religions vied with each other for royal favor. Royal favor was frequently expressed in land grants. But even more important was the sponsorship of monumental temples. Many of these temples remain even today as architectural wonders. These include the cave temples of Elephanta Island (near Bombay), Ajanta, and Ellora (in Maharashtra). They also include the structural temples of Kanchipuram (in Tamil Nadu). All are enduring legacies of otherwise warring regional rulers. By the mid-seventh century, Buddhism and Jainism began to decline. Conversely the sectarian Hindu devotional cults of Shiva and Vishnu vigorously competed for popular support. Sanskrit was the language of learning and theology in South India, as it was in the north. Nonetheless the growth of the bhakti (devotional) movements enhanced the crystallization of vernacular literature in all four major Dravidian languages. All four languages; Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada, often borrowed themes and vocabulary from Sanskrit. But at the same time they preserved much local cultural lore. Examples of Tamil literature include two major poems, Cilappatikaram (“The Jeweled Anklet”) and Manimekalai (“The Jeweled Belt”). Hindu devotional movements spawned the body of devotional literature of Shaivism and Vaishnavism. They also inspired the reworking of the Ramayana by Kamban in the twelfth century. A nationwide cultural synthesis had taken place despite markedly divergent characteristics which in the various regions of South Asia. However the process of cultural infusion and assimilation would continue to shape and influence India's history through the centuries. [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Condition: NEW (albeit with faintly edgeworn dustjacket). See detailed condition description below., Format: Hardcover with dustjacket, Length: 158 pages, Dimensions: 7½ x 5½ inches; 1 pound, Publisher: Hamlyn/Cameo (1969)

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