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 (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 Earth.

- Vikas Kamat
All Pictures by K. L. Kamat


5000 Years of Indian Art

List of Pictures - Decoration in Indian Art

See Also:


Alamkara: 5000 Years of Indian Art
| Foreword | Kings & Courtiers | Ideal of Ornament
Enduring Image | Adorning the Self | Heroic Ideal
Stream of Devotion | From Pot to Palate | Pursuit of Pleasure
Mortal Women & Celestial Lovers | Smell of Earth | References

Kamat's Potpourri 5000 Years of Indian Art

Research Database

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