Students will learn how the differences between Indian and British cultural perspectives, as seen in works of art, reinforced the British policy of imperialism in India.
Colonial India: British Imperialism in India
Time Alloted50 Minutes
State Content Standards
10.4.3 Explain imperialism from the perspective of the colonizers and the colonized and the varied immediate and long-term responses by the people under colonial rule.
3.1 Identify similarities and differences in the purposes of art created in selected cultures and 5.2 Compare and contrast works of art, probing beyond the obvious and identifying psychological content found in the symbols and images.
Overhead projector, color transparencies of both images, transparency of questions for the second image, and the first stanzas of Rudyard Kipling's White Man's Burden
Color copies of both images equal to half the number of students
1. Students will respond in a journal to the following two prompts: Pick five words which a good friend might use to describe you. Pick five words which a fellow student who does not know you well might use to describe you. Teacher will lead students in a discussion of the differences between how our friends my see us and how we are seen by others who do not know us well.
2. Teacher will present a lecture about British imperialism in India , and students will take notes. Teacher will emphasize the differences between India and Britain in such areas as size, population, resources, religion, political system, and history. Special note should be made of both the economic forces and Westernizing efforts in British imperial policy. Tie to the quickwrite by noting that without getting to know India very well, the British decided that India needed to be Westernized.
3. Teacher will pass out the British image of India to pairs of students. The teacher will explain that this image is an engraving to be printed in a book in England , and so the audience is likely British elites who have never been to India . The teacher will ask the students a series of questions, trying to get them to analyze the image. The following questions should be addressed, though not necessarily in this order:
* Why is this engraving called New Buildings ?
* Who is the audience for the prints of this image?
* What do the new buildings do in the image?
* Are the buildings Indian or British in their architectural style?
* Are there any other British elements in the image? (make sure the horse drawn carriage, guards a
the gate, and soldiers walking are discussed).
* What part of the image do the four walking soldiers draw a parallel to? (the windows —they are
civilized like the buildings)
* What elements of the image are Indian? (bull drawn cart, people walking and conversing)
* How do they compare to the British elements?
* What part of the image do the two Indians near the center of the picture draw a parallel to? (the palm
trees—they are wild, like nature)
* Why would this image appeal to a reading audience in Britain ? (It demonstrates British order) Who is
the figure in the foreground?
* Whether British or Indian, he or she is outside the British ordered street, on the wild side of the trench.
What may this figure be thinking while looking at the street with the new buildings? (the
order the British have created)
* What is the British view of the Indian people as expressed in this British engraving? (small parts of an
orderly British scene)
4. Teacher will pass out the Indian image of India to the pairs of students. The teacher will explain that this image is painted into a book, and so the audience is a wealthy patron in India . The teacher will put up overhead transparency of the following questions:
* What are some things which appear in both this and the British image?
* What are some noticeable differences between the two images?
* Can you tell who the most important people are in the different parts of this image? How?
* Who is the smallest person in the image? What is he or she doing?
* Find the largest people in the image? Notice the people next to them. Were the women and attendants
really that much smaller in real life? Then what is the artist trying to say about these individuals?
5. Students will respond in a few sentences, then discuss their answers with their partners. Teacher will circulate and answer specific questions.
6. When the same question is asked for a second time, teacher should get the attention of the entire class and clarify.
7. Ask for random responses or volunteers. The following details should be covered in the discussion.
* What are some things which appear in both this and the British image? (Indian people, animals,
buildings, windows, a wall with a guarded gate)
* What are some noticeable differences? (Only Indians, no British, bright colors, no vanishing-point
* Can you tell who the most important people are in the different parts of this image? How? (size)
* Who is the smallest person in the image? What is he or she doing? (carrying water)
* Find the largest people in the image? Notice the people next to them. Were the women and attendants
really that much smaller in real life? Then what is the artist trying to say about these individuals
* Why might the guard by the gate near the center of the image be drawn so large? (He has an
* How many separate conversations can you count in this image? (19 or so)
* Do most of them have anything in common? (women talking to women or men to men, but only two
have both genders)
* What is the Indian view of the Indian people as expressed in this Indian illustration? (complexity,
separation of genders, and hierarchy according to status)
Teacher will ask the following question to generate a discussion:
If the British did not appreciate the complexity and sophistication of Indian society, how could this misunderstanding relate to what we've learned about British imperialism in India ?
While moderating the responses, teacher may need to ask the following questions:
Is there anything uncivilized about the Indian image?
Do you think the Indian people needed the British in order to have an orderly and complex society?
Teacher will then read aloud from an overhead projection the first stanzas of Rudyard Kipling's White Man's Burden . Teacher will note that Kipling, who also wrote The Jungle Book , was British and lived in India . Students should look at both images while the teacher reads the poem. The teacher may need to note that the British did not consider the Indian people white.
White Man's Burden
Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.
Take up the White Man's burden--
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.
Teacher will ask the following question and moderate discussion:
Was British imperialism the result of British racist attitudes or were British racist attitudes the result of British imperialism (an attempt to justify their control over a larger and more populous county)?
About a Scene from a Mahabharata Series, 1830-1850:
The story, depicted in this manuscript, comes from the appendix, the Harivamsha . When the god Krishna gave his wife Rukmini a flower from the heavenly parijata tree, another wife, Satyabhama, became jealous. In order to restore harmony, Krishna took Satyabhama to visit Indra in heaven where the parijata tree grew. As Satyabhama left heaven, she took a small parijata tree. Indra became very angry at the theft and sent an army of demigods to attack Krishna . Krishna won the battle, and as a result, Indra gave a parijata tree to Satyabhama, which she planted in the palace courtyard.
In the middle level of this painted manuscript, in the right open-to-the-sky room, Krishna (the dark-faced man with the crown), with Satyabhama at his side, talks with the divine sage (wise man), Narada in the palace. Notice that Satyabhama is smaller in proportion to Krishna , revealing her lower status. In the next palace room to the left, a musician is entertaining a group of women. In the far left palace room, two dignitaries converse, with their followers arranged in a row to the side of each dignitary. Notice again the smaller stature of the followers, who are of lesser status than the dignitary. The rooms of the palace closest to the viewer are in front, and the viewer sees these only through the windows. The rooms with the colored and patterned carpets into which the viewer looks are actually farther away from the viewer. The mountains behind the palace are presumably farther away still. The artist shows the viewer how far away the various rooms and the mountains are by the height of each in the scene; the far mountains are high up in the scene and are the greatest distance from the elephants, horses and camels in the front outside the palace. Notice how much activity is going on in this scene. The amount of activity refers to the large size of the palace itself.
Thomas Daniell (1749 – 1840) and William Daniell (1769 – 1837)
Both Thomas Daniell and his nephew William Daniell traveled from England to India in
1786. During their seven years in India , they created a series of drawings of India , which they published as engravings when they returned to England . The Daniells are the most famous of the professional British artists, who went throughout India and sketched the sights, including the landscape, festivals, temples and everyday scenes of Indian cities. These scenes were of interest to those in England who had heard about the exotic temples and landscapes of India but had been unable to travel there.
About The New Buildings at Couringhee Road, 1787:
The thoroughfare runs in front of the walls, and it is here that the everyday scenes are shown: a man balancing a plank on his head; people walking in pairs; a man on a camel and a tent- like enclosure on a wagon pulled by bulls. From the opposite direction the viewer sees a Western coach pulled by four horses. On the far side of the road a person sits on the ground with packages beside him and watches the scenes on the road. A group of white storks are standing by a pool, to the left.
This scene is not a painting or a drawing but an engraving, a printmaking process. In engraving the artist incises lines into a surface (usually a metal plate) to create the image. The surface is then inked and put through a printing press to create the print. Multiple prints can be made from the engraved surface of the plate.
Comparing the Artwork of the Colonizer and the Colonized
A Scene from a Mahabharata Series is a painted manuscript created by a native Indian artist. It is created by a native artist about his own culture. It depicts a story about the god Krishna from an Indian epic, a literary narrative. The artist is one of a number of artists in a painting workshop, and his name is unknown. The medium (the material used to make the artwork) is opaque watercolor. This artist uses a number of unrealistic ways to express his ideas. For example, if one person is more important than another, the more important person is shown larger in proportion to the other. Landscape and human forms are stylized (all look the same): the mountains are drawn in a similar way, and the people show the same facial features. Distance is indicated by its higher position in the scene. The interior of the palace rooms are higher in the scene than the front of the palace. These rooms are thus farther away from the viewer.
The New Buildings at Chouringhee Road, on the other hand, is an engraving, a type of print, and is created by an English artist, the colonizer . The engraving shows a scene of Calcutta , and the names of the artists are known: Thomas Daniell and his nephew, William Daniell. The engraving uses a number of techniques that make this scene look realistic. All figures are proportionally the same size as in reality. And the viewer looks into the distance and sees the buildings and people diminish in size with the distance. This decrease in size with distance is the way things look in reality, and the technique that creates this appearance is called linear perspective, a technique which Western artists use. The buildings in the scene do not look like native Indian buildings but look like buildings the viewer could see in any European city. The colonizers have imported their type of building into India
The longer the British ruled India , the greater chance there was for the native Indian artist to adopt the artistic techniques of their Western colonizers. The British rulers and their relatives back home in England wanted pictures of India . Soon native Indian artists, called Company School artists, began to paint those subjects, which they knew the British wanted: the festivals, colorful occupations, the monuments, and the everyday activities. These “tourist” paintings were sometimes created in translucent watercolor, the kind of watercolor favored by Western artists and desired by the British public. In some cases, the native Indian artist even tried to utilize linear perspective in works for the British, a technique foreign to his native way of showing distance. The colonized changed under the influence of the colonizers.
About India's History
The East India Company, founded in England in 1600, became the leading power in India in 1757. In 1858 the British government took over India from the East India Company, and part of India became known as British India . The country was divided now between British India under the supervision of the British viceroy (direct British control) and the Indian States, ruled by Indian princes and a British resident (indirect British control) . Indian princes pledged loyalty to Great Britain and supported British interests in World War I and II. After many years of struggle for independence under the leadership of Gandhi , India became an independent nation in 1950.
About Kangra-Style Artists
In the mid-16th century during the Mughal Empire (1526 – early 1700s), a national school of painting was established to produce manuscripts, including portraits of the royal family and scenes of court life. Facial features tended to look the same, while costumes were painted in great detail. Colors were mixed from a variety of mineral, animal, and vegetable pigments with gum arabic and water to create an opaque paint surface. Gold was reserved for the most luxurious manuscripts.
At the height of the Mughal Empire, artists in neighboring Hindu states began to create manuscript illustrations, which rivaled those from the imperial school. These native Indian artists who lived in the city-states of the dry plains of Rajasthan and the Himalayan foothills (the Pahari region) took their inspiration from traditional romances and legends. Individual artists were rarely known by name, as the artists collaborated in painting workshops. The Pahari region included the Kangra style, which uses broad, flat areas of color, shows multiple narratives within a single frame, and depicts stylized mountains.