Sunday, January 17, 2016

Indian Museum, Kolkata - Exploring the Sculpture Gallery

The oldest and largest museum in India, The Indian Museum, Kolkata, founded in 1814, houses an amazing collection of rare artifacts.

Above is the facade as it looked in 1915 and below the courtyard as it looks today. 

I've heard that the museum is too big to be seen in one day. My mission is a thorough examination of the Indian sculpture collection:

Immediately upon entering the sculpture gallery in the Indian Museum, we encounter a large room full of enormous stone carvings - some of the earliest examples of Buddhist art:

The reassembled gateway from the Bharhut stupa in Madhya Pradesh, central India:

The stupa may have been built by Ashoka, one of India's greatest emperors who ruled most of the Indian subcontinent during the Maurya Dynasty:

The Bharhut stupa relics contains numerous round medallions illustrating the Jataka tales, stories of the Buddha's 550 previous lives:

Life size figurative reliefs cover square columns:

Gandahara Buddhist Art fills the next room.

The Greco-Roman influenced style evolved the region now known as Pakistan and Afghanistan between the 1st century BCE and the 7th century CE.

I am surprised that this Submission of Naga king Apalala from the 2nd century C.E. look so similar to the sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago on which I based this painting:

Buddha Dipankara
by Cynthia Hayes, 2015 
36 x 48 inches
acrylic on hand blocked fabric
(Price available on request)

...Some similarities in this relief as well.

More Gandaharan Buddhas:

Proceeding to the Hindu deities room, we find a long room filled with treasures.

Here are just a few highlights:

Ca. 11th century C.E. 
Madhya Pradesh

Ca. 12 century C.E.

Devi with child
Ca. 10th century C.E.

Ca. 12th century C.E.
South Mohammadpur, Bangladesh

Ca. 12th Century C.E. Granite
Halebid, Karnataka 

A few more examples of Karnataka Art from the south of India:

Residing at the end of the sculpture wing is this beautiful 12th century sandstone Garuda, the mount of Vishnu from Cambodia:

I am out of time today!

The collection here is amazing and well worth a visit for anyone interested in Indian art. We will need to return to the Indian Museum another day to visit the Painting Gallery. 

Preparations continue for the upcoming show of my work. More details in the next blog post! 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section.

Thanks for reading my blog!


  1. This is great! Thanks for sharing this, Cynthia and good luck with your show!
    -Paul Kuhn

  2. It's amazing that anyone could carve in basalt without power tools.