Ancient Greece and Ancient India are listed among the most powerful civilizations with the greatest cultural heritage (Sacks, Murray & Brody, 2009). Although the two empires ceased to exist a long time ago, some of their elements turned out to be so memorable that they are remembered well by not only Greeks and Indians, but also people from all over the world.
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The sculptures created by the artists belonging to the above-mentioned cultures, however, seem to be the most memorable elements of the latter. Although Ancient Greece and Ancient India were separated geographically, their art in general and sculptures in particular manifest that the two civilizations shared several similarities in their interpretation of gods and people.
The difference between the way, in which the Ancient Greek and the Ancient Indian sculptors depicted gods and humans is, therefore, rather basic. While the Greek mythology tended to draw parallels between the human society and the life of mighty gods, the Indian sculptors were clearly inclined towards drawing a very thick line between gods and mere mortals.
It should be noted, though, that the analysis of the Ancient Greek and Ancient Indian sculptures has revealed a number of similarities between the two manners of depicting gods and humans alike.
The approach to proportions and the emphasis on the natural beauty made the Ancient Greek sculptures of men and gods very similar to each other, e.g., Poseidon and the Disc Thrower.
In fact, distinguishing between the two types of sculptures is hardly possible for a side viewer; without knowing the characteristic features traditionally associated with Greek gods, one will not see the difference between the two: “the gods were also capable of human flaws and emotions, such as anger, cruelty, and brutal sexual desire” (Sacks et al., 2009, p. 292).
In fact, the similarities between the Greek and the Indian sculpture can be proven by the existence of the Greek-Buddhist art. The specified art form emerged in ca. 600 B.C. and embodied a combination of the Ancient Greek and the Buddhist cultures, i.e., the representation of Greek and Indian gods. The specified phenomenon can be explained by the effects of the economic and cultural links that existed between the two empires in ca. 500 BC (Sanujit, 2011).
Although the links in question were based on international trade and, therefore, served a purely economic function, the process of cultures fusion was launched and occurred at a rather fast pace. In fact, a range of sculptures from the above-mentioned era incorporate the elements of both Indian and Egyptian cultures, such as the combination of the images of Buddha and the elements of the Greek culture, including “a wheel, an empty throne, a pair of footprints or a pipal tree” (Sanujit, 2011, par. 62).
As far as the key differences between the Ancient Indian and the Ancient Greek sculptures are concerned, the concept of aesthetics deserves to be mentioned. Whereas depicting people in Ancient Greece presupposed following the concept of harmony and, therefore, displaying natural bodily proportions, the Ancient Indian sculptures portraying people were deprived of the specified characteristic.
For instance, The Dancing Girl of Mohenjo-Daro (DK Publishing, 2008, p. 258) is strikingly different from the Ancient Greek manner of portraying women, as the changes in the body proportions are obvious. Whereas in the ancient Greek sculptures, the tendency to retain natural look are emphasizes, in the Ancient Indian sculpture, it is the aesthetics of the artwork that matters, as the case in point shows.
The portrayal of Indian gods compared to people in the Ancient Indian sculpture, in its turn, presupposed a slightly different approach. The connection between the Indian and the Greek traditions of the portrayal of people and gods, the aesthetics of the sculptures and, therefore, the emphasis on specific details varies depending on which ancient culture the artwork belongs to.
Particularly, the fact that the Ancient Indian sculpture in general and the portrayal of gods in particular presupposed that the statues depicting Buddha should have an element that resembled a halo deserves to be mentioned. Apart from the specified detail, there was no tangible distinction between the sculptures portraying people and the ones depicting Buddha; both types of artworks tended to represent the Buddha and human characters in the same humble manner (Sculpture of Ancient India, n. d.).
The traditions of Ancient Greece and Ancient India, in fact, have worked their way into the contemporary society and the modern concept of beauty. For instance, the aforementioned principle of harmony in bodily proportions seems to have become a common concept nowadays (Ioannou & Kyriakidou, 2014).
The principle of minimalism, which can be found implemented in Ancient Indian sculpture has also found its niche in the 21st century art. Thus, it can be assumed that Ancient Greece and Ancient India provided the basis for developing the set of standards used by contemporary artists and media. An essential part of the world history, the artworks created in Ancient Greece and Ancient India still dictate the basic principles of harmony and beauty to modern sculptors.
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DK Publishing. (2008). India: People, place, culture, history. New York, NY: Penguin.
Ioannou, M. & Kyriakidou, M. (2014). Female beauty in art: History, feminism, women artists. Newcastle upon Tyme, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Sacks, D., Murray, O. & Brody, L. R. (2009). Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek world. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing.
Sculpture of Ancient India. Web.