SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Chandra, Moti (1934) Studies in Indian dancing as depicted in painting and sculpture and the representations of the musical ragas in painting. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
Download (75MB)


It is only since the last fifty years that the study of Indian Archaeology has been taken up seriously. The work done within such a little time has been tremendous considering the difficulties which the archaeologists had to face. The results of these researches have been published in volumes of archaeological reports. But so far the history of Indian art has only been written in the round. The art-critics have been mainly concerned with the controversial questions of dates and the unfruitful discussion of the superiority of western art over eastern and vice versa. It is high time that the efforts of art-critics were directed to the more specific problems of Indian Art. The present studies were undertaken with a view to discover what light the painting and sculpture of India can throw on various phases of Indian dancing. The dancing and musical scenes which are described in the first part of the thesis give us intimate glimpses Into the life and customs of the people. There is the splendour of the royal courts and the stuff of peoples' lives on festive occasions, portrayed in Indian sculpture and painting. From the point of view of the study of Indian costume and ornament, too, the dancing scenes I have dealt with furnish us with a wealth of information not hitherto revealed. The musical instruments have also been described and their Sanskrit or vernacular equivalents given. The study of the Mudras or 'momentary hand-poise' also forms a corollary to the study of Indian dancing. The Mudras which at first appear to be spontaneous are meant to convey definite meaning to the spectators, I have given descriptions of these from Bharata and Nandikesvara in the footnotes. In the second part of my work I have considered the representations of musical Bagas in painting. Apart from the emotional reactions which these paintings were intended to evoke in the critic, they are a veritable encyclopaedia of Hindu culture from the 17th century onwards. A vexed point of discussion concerning these paintings is the question of their dates and their places of origin. Style is the only means by which their places of origin may be determined. But it is not always the surest guide. I have tried, however, to ascribe dates to these paintings with reference to stylistic similarities so far as can be discerned from the Johnson Collection made in the late eighteenth century. This collection contains many albums of the Ragamala paintings, some executed in the Rajput style, while others in the Mughal style, with the names of the artists inscribed at the bottom. The language of these Ragamalas is coarse as compared with the beautiful lyrics of the Vaisnava poets. To add to the difficulties the inscriptions are bristling with the mistakes of the copyists. I have, however, made an attempt to give the text of all in the thirty-six ragas and raginis from the album Or. 2821, Or. 8838, Or. 8839 and Add. 26,550 (B.M.) The album Or. 2821 consists of thirty-four folios. The text is in the dialect used by Jayasi. The other three albums give the same text. Full text of the dhyamantras has been given from Or. 8838 which gives the most correct reading. The variants in the other two manuscripts are noted down. In translating these pieces due care has been taken to make the translations literal. It has been sought to collate and check the results of archaeology with reference to literature.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:08

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item