The Theory of Citrasutras in Indian Painting

A Critical Re-evaluation of their Uses and Interpretations

By Isabella Nardi

© 2007 – Routledge

208 pages | 65 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415391955
pub: 2006-07-14
US Dollars$178.00

About the Book

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.


'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

Table of Contents

List of Tables. List of Figures. Acknowledgements. Notes on Transcription. Abbreviations and Editions of Major Texts. Introduction 1. The Texts, their Translations and Interpretation 2. The Traditional Indian Concept of Painting 3. Systems of Measurement and Proportion 4. Talamana and Lambamana Systems 5. Stances, Hand and Leg Postures 6. Iconography 7. Colors, Plaster, Brushes and the Process of Painting 8. The Theory of Rasa. Conclusions. Appendix I. Appendix II Appendix III. Glossary. Bibliography

About the Series

Royal Asiatic Society Books

The Royal Asiatic Society was founded in 1823 ‘for the investigation of subjects connected with, and for the encouragement of science, literature and the arts in relation to, Asia’. Informed by these goals, the policy of the Society’s Editorial Board is to make available in appropriate formats the results of original research in the humanities and social sciences having to do with Asia, defined in the broadest geographical and cultural sense and up to the present day.

Editorial Board:
Professor Francis Robinson, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK (Chair); Professor Tim Barrett, SOAS, University of London, UK; Dr Evrim Binbaş, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK; Professor Anna Contadini, SOAS, University of London, UK; Professor Michael Feener, National University of Singapore; Dr Gordon Johnson, University of Cambridge, UK; Professor David Morgan, University of Wisconsin–Madison, US; Dr. BMC Brend; Dr. R. Llewellyn Jones MBE

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Asian
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General