Alamkara: 5000 Years of Indian Art
Page Last Updated: January 01, 2015
Introduction to Alankara Online Exhibition
A significant number of people of Singapore are of Indian origin. As part of an
initiative to present the ancient heritage of the people of Singapore, in
1994-95 the Government of Singapore held an exhibition Alamkara: 5000 Years
of Indian Art, at the National Museum, Singapore.
The exhibition was organized by Asian Civilizations Museum, National Heritage Board,
Singapore and National Museum, New Delhi , and ran from July 1994 to January 1995.
The Alamkara website, originally at http://www.ncb.gov.sg/nhb/alam/
(site no longer live) was hugely popular in the early days of the World-wide
Web, but was taken down at the end of the exhibition. I thought it was a well
developed online exhibition, and decided to resurrect it in February of 2002. However,
I no longer had access to the original presentation or artifacts, and instead have used
alternate works available to me from my father's Timeless Theater
Picture archive. I have tried to be faithful to the spirit of the original exhibit,
and have maintained the original commentary, including the foreword
by Lim Chee Onn. I have enhanced the presentation by including
relevant pictures and annotations. I have also compiled a comprehensive list of
references for students and researchers.
Alamkara is a Sanskrit word meaning ornamentation, decoration,
and figure of speech,
describes an enduring characteristic of Indian artistic production, whether in
the visual, performing or literary arts. This online exhibit explores this notion of ornamentation in
the context of objects made for use in domestic, religious and courtly settings.
These objects are grouped into sections focusing on various aspects of Indian
life, including the cooking and consumption of food, dress and jewelry, pastimes, the world of men and of women, and devotional
pursuits. In order to do justice to the multitude of folk-arts of India (as
opposed to the classical arts), I have added a new chapter, The Smell of the
- Vikas Kamat
All Pictures by K. L. Kamat
5000 Years of Indian Art
List of Pictures - Decoration in Indian Art