The Art of India: Folk Art Collection highlights art objects from the decorative arts and craft traditions found throughout India’s past and present. Textiles, carved wood printing blocks, ceramic tiles, paintings, and even embroidered leather shoes are brought together to introduce students to the diverse cultural groups and traditions found today in India. Hand-decorated tiles by the contemporary artist Partha Dey and colorful Madhubani paintings tell stories of the Hindu gods, goddesses, and mythic heroes. A large tapestry, known as a Pabuji ki Phad, tells the epic tale of the Pabuji, a folk hero turned demigod who is honored in Northern India through elaborate performances and offerings.

Humans have inhabited the subcontinent of India for thousands of years, and peoples from across the world, including ancient Greece, the Middle East, and China, have brought various cultural and material practices to the area. The Art of India: Folk Art Collection reveals how these historical movements of people and ideas can still be felt today in living traditions and art forms. Because our teaching emphasizes inquiry and discovery, students will engage with these objects and with the ideas that they represent through dialogue and hands-on opportunities. In viewing this collection, students will be invited to engage with the complex history of India through objects that demonstrate how art and life continue to be interwoven together for various cultural groups. 

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