The study of technical treatises in Indian art has increasingly attracted much interest. This work puts forward a critical re-examination of the key Indian concepts of painting described in the Sanskrit treatises, called citrasutras. In an in-depth and systematic analysis of the texts on the theory of Indian painting, it critically examines the different ways in which the texts have been interpreted and used in the study of Indian painting, and suggests a new approach to reading and understanding their concepts. Contrary to previous publications on the subject, it is argued that the intended use of such texts as a standard of critique largely failed due to a fundamental misconceptualization of the significance of ‘text’ for Indian painters.
Isabella Nardi offers an original approach to research in this field by drawing on the experiences of painters, who are considered as a valid source of knowledge for our understanding of the citrasutras, and provides a new conceptual framework for understanding the interlinkages between textual sources and the practice of Indian painting. Filling a significant gap in Indian scholarship, Nardi's study will appeal to those studying Indian painting and Indian art in general.
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'An exhaustive exploration of diverse topics discussed and an attempt to question the normative theory of painting on the basis of its practice as exemplified by contemporary traditional painters from diverse regions in India. The book is therefore highly recommended to students of Indian art, both as a guide to technical knowledge and as a penetrating study of the history of critical studies of Indian painting.' - Valdas Jaskunas, Acta Prientalia Vilnensia, 2007
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