Page:Pre-Aryan Tamil Culture.djvu/52

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50 The humblest tool used by the ancient Indian was made of a beauti. ful shape and was besides decorated; the humble bill book, arival, 1 which is hooked on to the waist-string of the labourer, is not only of a beautiful shape, but is provided with leaf shaped notches and the brass ferule which binds it to its handle is decorated with art work. The vegetable knife, used in every house, arivaļmaņai, 2 has its iron part shaped to resemble a bird and its wooden part covered with linedesign. No Indian workman will finish any work of his hands, small or big, humble or otherwise, without putting on it some bit of art work. The country cart, cumbrous as it looks to the careless observer, has every part of it, including the beam, achchu, on which the frame-work rests and which holds or does duty for the axle-tree is filled with carvings of the lotus flower or the lotus leaves or stems. The rich carvings on temple-cars which are but copies of ancient wood temples, are too well known to require description here. The extraordinary development of wood-carving (succeeded by stone-carving) in preference to other forms of art in India was due to two causes. Hard woods that lent themselves to most minute carving grew in abundance. But the more important cause is that the aim of Indian art is decorative and not imitative. Ancient Greek art had for its aim the imitation of the forms of men and of natural objects ; the nearer the copy was to the original, the more successful was the art product claimed to be. The art work was executed for its own sake, because as Keats said, 'a thing of beauty is a joy for ever'. Hence art was an end in itself and art-objects were not considered decorations of the drawing room or of something other than themselves. Thus the famous frescoes which exist in various parts of the country are but decorations of cave temples and cave-monasteries, just as carving and group-statuary in stone, in stucco, or in wood, are but decorations of the vimāram, gopuram, 5 or the car of the temple. Hence whereas pictures or statues which belong to Greek art are individual objects, those belonging to Indian art are extensive compositions, stories in paint, or stone or wood. Greek art aims at perfection of form, because each art-product exists by itself: Indian art aims at representation of life and moving objects and not still life, because each figure is but the part of an extensive composition. Self-restraint is the chief characteristic of the Greek art, but the Indian artist lets himself go without any restriction on the outflow of his genius. As a singer when performing alapaname of a ragam,? takes a theme and rings endless changes on it, as many as his throat is capable of producing, as a poet, started on a description, seems never to be able to exhaust his subject, so the painter and the carver is never tired of multiplying details in the exposition of the central idea. Foreigners do the greatest injustice possible to Indian art when they take away from their proper place pieces of the stone work of Bharhut or Amaravati, bits of paintings from Ajanta or Ellora, and judge them divorced from their environment, and in conditions of light different from those where they were originally placed. It looks like judging Shakespeare's plays from a dictionary of quotations. in stubasteries untry ar give cams but thereof his les ea theme productie ayilard. Garyre. அரிவாள் மணை, orderd. 9. Jorerid. 7 rrsu.