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BTMG-172: Culture in Indian Subcontinent II

BTMG-172: Culture in Indian Subcontinent II

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2023-24

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Assignment Code: BTMG-172/TMA/2023-24

Course Code: BTMG-172

Assignment Name: Culture in Indian Subcontinent-II

Year: 2023-2024

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

Section A

Answer the following in about 500 words each.

Q1) Describe different phases with key characteristics of Indian fine arts.

Ans) Ancient Indian Fine Arts (Pre-5th Century CE):

a) Cave Paintings and Petroglyphs: Caves near Bhimbetka, which date back to the Upper Palaeolithic period, were discovered to contain the earliest examples of artistic expression.

b) Depictions of daily life, hunting scenes, and religious rituals.

Mauryan and Sunga Period (3rd Century BCE - 1st Century BCE):

a) There are pillars and edicts of Ashoka that are decorated with inscriptions and animal themes alike.

b) Stupas of the Buddhist religion, such as the Sanchi Stupa, boasting elaborate sculptures.

Gupta Period (4th - 6th Century CE):

Traditional art styles, with an emphasis on naturalism, came into existence.

The Ajanta and Ellora Caves are known for their beautiful murals and sculptures that combine Buddhist and Hindu themes.

Medieval Indian Fine Arts (6th - 18th Century CE):

Chola Period (9th - 13th Century CE):

a) Bronze sculptures depicting gods and goddesses, exemplified by the Nataraja sculpture.

b) Dravidian architecture with intricately carved temples like Brihadeshwara Temple.

Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Period (13th - 18th Century CE):

a) Indo-Islamic architecture with the Qutub Minar and Jama Masjid in Delhi.

b) Mughal miniature paintings featuring detailed landscapes and courtly scenes.

Vijayanagara Empire (14th - 17th Century CE):

a) Hampi's Virupaksha Temple showcasing Vijayanagara architecture.

b) Bronze sculptures and mural paintings in Lepakshi and other Vijayanagara sites.

Colonial and Post-Colonial Indian Fine Arts (18th Century CE Onward):

Company School Paintings (Late 18th - Early 19th Century):

a) Fusion of Indian and Western painting styles during the British East India Company rule.

b) Portraits, landscapes, and genre scenes featuring Indian subjects.

Bengal School of Art (Late 19th - Early 20th Century):

a) Led by artists like Abanindranath Tagore and Nandalal Bose.

b) Revival of traditional Indian art forms, rejection of Western naturalism.

c) Emphasis on spirituality and symbolism in art.

Raja Ravi Varma and Academic Realism (Late 19th - Early 20th Century):

a) Ravi Varma's realistic paintings blending Indian mythological themes with European academic techniques.

b) Popularization of oleographs, making art accessible to a broader audience.

Modern Indian Art Movements (20th Century Onward):

a) Progressive Artists' Group (1947): Pioneering modernist movement with artists like F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza, and M.F. Husain.

b) Abstract Expressionism: Vasudeo S. Gaitonde and others experimenting with non-representational art.

c) Contemporary Art: Diverse styles and mediums, addressing social, political, and cultural issues.

d) Traditional and Folk Arts: Continued practice of traditional art forms like Madhubani, Warli, and Pattachitra paintings.

e) Promotion of indigenous crafts, such as pottery, weaving, and metalwork.

Q2) What do you mean by cultural institutions? Describe the importance of cultural institutions.

Ans) Cultural institutions encompass a broad range of organizations and entities that play a crucial role in preserving, promoting, and disseminating cultural heritage, artistic expressions, and intellectual achievements within a society. These institutions serve as custodians of a nation's identity, history, and traditions, contributing to the enrichment and continuity of its cultural fabric.

Types of Cultural Institutions:

a) Museums and Art Galleries: Artifacts, artworks, and cultural objects should be preserved together with their presentation. Make educational opportunities available and offer insights into the artistic and historical accomplishments of the past.

b) Libraries and Archives: The preservation of knowledge and literature via the housekeeping of collections of books, manuscripts, and records. Encourage the conduct of research, the distribution of knowledge, and educational activities.

c) Academic and Research Institutions: Universities, cultural studies centres, and research institutions contribute to the study and analysis of culture, literature, and the arts. Foster academic excellence and critical thinking in cultural discourse.

d) Cultural Centres: Promote cultural exchange, dialogue, and understanding among diverse communities. Organize events, exhibitions, and performances to showcase cultural diversity.

e) Performing Arts Organizations: Theatres, dance troupes, and music ensembles contribute to the promotion and preservation of performing arts. Offer platforms for artists to showcase their talents and for audiences to engage with diverse artistic forms.

f) Historical Societies: Document and preserve historical events, narratives, and landmarks. Contribute to the understanding of a nation's past and its impact on the present.

g) Cultural and Heritage Conservation Organizations: Engage in the restoration and conservation of cultural monuments, heritage sites, and artworks. Ensure the longevity and integrity of cultural assets for future generations.

Importance of Cultural Institutions:

a) Preservation of Cultural Heritage: Cultural institutions safeguard artifacts, manuscripts, and traditions, ensuring the continuity of a nation's heritage. Mitigate the risk of cultural loss by preserving and documenting historical and artistic expressions.

b) Education and Research: Libraries, museums, and academic institutions serve as hubs for research, education, and the dissemination of knowledge. Facilitate scholarly pursuits and contribute to intellectual growth.

c) Cultural Identity and Diversity: Cultural institutions celebrate and promote the unique identity of communities, fostering a sense of pride and belonging. Contribute to the appreciation of cultural diversity and the richness of human expression.

d) Promotion of Arts and Creativity: Provide platforms for artists to showcase their talents and contribute to the development of the arts. Encourage creativity, innovation, and the exploration of new artistic forms.

e) Tourism and Economic Impact: Tourists are drawn to cultural institutions, which in turn contributes to the economy through the practise of cultural tourism. Create employment opportunities in industries such as event management, conservation, and curation, among others.

f) Social Cohesion and Understanding: There is a significant contribution that cultural organisations make to the process of establishing social cohesion by facilitating communication and understanding amongst various cultures. Become intermediaries between various cultural, ethnic, and linguistic communities by acting as bridges.

g) Inspiration and Reflection: Serve as a source of inspiration for artists, authors, and intellectuals, thereby having an impact on the production of current cultural works. Inspire people to think about the human experience, the values of society, and the events that have occurred in history.

Section B

Answer the following in about 250 words each.

Q3) Why is it important to study visual past in their “specific context”?

Ans) Studying visual artifacts in their specific context is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of historical, cultural, and artistic developments.

Cultural Significance: Visual past, including artworks, artifacts, and monuments, often carries profound cultural significance. Examining these in their specific context allows us to decipher the meanings, symbols, and cultural nuances embedded in the creations, shedding light on the beliefs and values of the society that produced them.

Historical Interpretation: Artistic expressions evolve in response to historical events, societal changes, and political contexts. Analysing visual elements within their historical setting provides insights into the motivations, influences, and intentions behind the creation of art, contributing to a more accurate historical interpretation.

Social and Political Commentary: Art has been a powerful tool for social and political commentary. Examining visual artifacts in their specific context helps unravel the messages, criticisms, or affirmations embedded in the art, providing a lens into the social and political climate of the time.

Artistic Innovation: Understanding the specific context in which artists worked allows for a more nuanced appreciation of their innovative contributions. It helps identify how artistic styles, techniques, and forms were influenced by or reacted against prevailing cultural, religious, or artistic norms.

Cultural Exchange: Many visual artifacts reflect interactions and exchanges between different cultures. Examining these artifacts in their specific context unveils the dynamics of cultural exchange, assimilation, or resistance, contributing to a more nuanced understanding of global cultural interplay.

Audience Reception: The way a visual piece is received by its contemporary audience is integral to its interpretation. Analysing visual artifacts in their specific context allows scholars to explore the intended audience, reception, and impact, offering insights into societal responses to artistic expressions.

Q4) Describe the distinctive features of “Mauryan Sculptures”?

Ans) Mauryan sculptures, dating from the 3rd century BCE during the reign of the Maurya Empire in ancient India, are characterized by distinctive features that reflect the artistic and cultural milieu of the time.

Some key aspects include:

a) Material and Medium: Mauryan sculptures were primarily created in stone, with pillars, capitals, and railings of stupas being common mediums.

b) Austere and Robust Style: The sculptures exhibit an austere and robust style, with an emphasis on simplicity and strength. The art reflects the Mauryan preference for solidity and durability.

c) Pillars and Capitals: Ashoka, the prominent Mauryan emperor, erected pillars adorned with animal motifs such as lions, elephants, bulls, and horses. The famous Lion Capital of Ashoka, now the emblem of India, is a prime example, featuring four lions back-to-back.

d) Yakshi Figures: Female figures known as Yakshas were commonly depicted, displaying a sensuous yet dignified elegance. The Yakshi of Didarganj is a notable example, showcasing a female figure with exquisite details.

e) Stupas and Railings: Mauryan rulers, particularly Ashoka, played a pivotal role in the construction of stupas and their decorative elements. Sculpted railings of stupas, such as those at Sanchi, feature intricate carvings of narrative scenes, depicting events from the life of the Buddha.

f) Animal Motifs: Animals, both real and mythical, were frequently featured in Mauryan art. The Mauryan artists depicted animals with a degree of naturalism, reflecting their keen observation of the animal kingdom.

g) Absence of Human Figures: Human figures were relatively less emphasized in Mauryan sculptures compared to later periods. When present, human figures tended to be stylized and focused on conveying specific messages, such as the moral teachings of Buddhism.

h) Edicts and Inscriptions: Ashoka's rock and pillar edicts, inscribed with his messages and teachings, are a unique form of Mauryan sculpture. These edicts were placed in various parts of the empire to communicate Ashoka's moral and ethical principles.

Q5) Describe some forms of house decorating folk art?

Ans) House decorating folk art encompasses a diverse range of traditional, handmade, and often culturally specific artistic expressions used to adorn living spaces. These forms of folk art add vibrancy, cultural identity, and a sense of community to homes.

Murals and Wall Paintings:

Many cultures practice mural painting, depicting scenes from folklore, nature, or religious stories directly onto walls. Examples include Mexican "muralismo" and Indian "Madhubani" paintings.


Mosaic art involves arranging small, coloured pieces of glass, ceramic, or stone to create intricate patterns. It is prevalent in various cultures, such as Moroccan Zellige tilework and Italian mosaic traditions.


Originating in India, rangoli is a form of decorative folk art where patterns are created on the ground or floors using coloured powders, rice, or flower petals. It is often practiced during festivals and special occasions.


Papercutting involves intricate designs cut from paper and then displayed on windows or walls. It is common in Chinese, German, and Mexican folk-art traditions.

Tapestry and Textiles:

Embroidery, weaving, and fabric appliqué are used to create textiles that adorn walls and furniture. Examples include Scandinavian textile traditions and West African mud cloth.

Ceramic and Pottery Decoration:

Folk pottery often involves hand-painted designs, glazes, and relief work. Talavera pottery in Mexico and Greek folk pottery are renowned for their vibrant decorations.

Wood Carving:

Woodcarving is a prevalent folk-art form used for decorating furniture, doors, and architectural elements. Scandinavian rosemaling and Swiss chalet wood carving are notable examples.


Quilting involves sewing layers of fabric together with intricate patterns. Quilts are often used as both functional and decorative items, with diverse styles found in American, Amish, and African American quilting traditions.

Folk Embellishments on Architecture:

Decorative elements on buildings, such as carved wooden beams, painted shutters, and ornamental ironwork, contribute to the visual appeal of houses. This is seen in traditions like Alsatian half-timbered houses.

Candle Decoration:

Candle decoration involves various techniques, such as hand-painting or carving designs onto candles. This is particularly prominent in Polish and German folk art traditions.

Section C

Answer the following in about 100 words each.

Q6) What is “Aesthetic Sensibility?

Ans) "Aesthetic sensibility" refers to an individual's heightened awareness and appreciation of beauty, art, and the principles of aesthetics. It involves a refined sensitivity to the visual, auditory, or sensory elements that evoke a sense of pleasure, harmony, or emotional response. Aesthetic sensibility encompasses the ability to discern and derive meaning from artistic expressions, recognizing qualities such as balance, form, and composition. It extends beyond the tangible to encompass an intuitive understanding of the subtleties and nuances that contribute to an aesthetically pleasing experience, whether in art, nature, or the broader cultural environment.

Q7) What is “Cultural Festivals”?

Ans) "Cultural festivals" are celebratory events that highlight and celebrate the diverse cultural expressions, traditions, and heritage of a particular community, region, or ethnic group. These festivals often feature a range of activities, including traditional performances, music, dance, culinary showcases, art exhibitions, and rituals. Cultural festivals play a crucial role in fostering a sense of identity, promoting cultural exchange, and preserving intangible heritage. They provide platforms for communities to share their unique traditions, customs, and artistic expressions, fostering mutual understanding and appreciation among participants and spectators. Cultural festivals contribute to the vibrancy and richness of a society's cultural tapestry.

Q8) Who is “Prajapati”?

Ans) "Prajapati" is a term used in Hinduism to refer to a deity associated with creation, procreation, and the protection of life. In Vedic literature, Prajapati is often identified as the lord of creatures and the supreme creator of the universe. The term is a compound of two Sanskrit words: "praja," meaning offspring or creatures, and "pati," meaning lord or master. Prajapati is sometimes identified with different deities, such as Brahma, Vishnu, or Rudra, depending on the context. The concept of Prajapati reflects the cosmic order and the divine force responsible for the continual process of creation and generation in Hindu cosmology.

Q9) What do you mean by Naqshabandhas?

Ans) "Naqshbandhas" is not a widely recognized term, and it may be a variant or misspelling of "Naqshbandi," referring to the Naqshbandi order in Sufi Islam. The Naqshbandi order is one of the major Sufi spiritual paths characterized by its emphasis on silent dhikr (remembrance of God), strict adherence to Islamic law, and the transmission of spiritual guidance through a chain of authorized teachers. The term "Naqshbandi" itself is derived from the Arabic words "naqsha" (engraving) and "band" (bond), symbolizing the idea of engraving the divine attributes upon the heart.

Q10) Why is a National museum important?

Ans) A National Museum is crucial for preserving, highlighting, and disseminating a country's cultural and historical heritage. It serves as a repository of artifacts, artworks, and historical objects, providing a tangible connection to the nation's past. The museum plays a vital role in educating citizens and visitors, fostering a sense of national identity, and promoting cultural understanding. It contributes to research, scholarship, and the conservation of valuable artifacts. A National Museum serves as a cultural hub, offering a space for reflection, contemplation, and the celebration of a nation's achievements, traditions, and diverse cultural expressions.

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