Early Indian Art Reconsidered

Frederick M. Asher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


By the early 1920s, the chronology of early Indian art had been essentially established. This chronology, based on monuments assumed to be dated by inscription, has been widely accepted since then and modified just a little. It is, however, not nearly so secure and precise as generally imagined. This chapter reviews some of the scholarship that led to the establishment of the chronology and then interrogates the evidence and throws open the sequence generally assumed to be established. Early Indian art is generally understood to begin with the reign of Aśoka, when monuments were made for the first time since the late third millennium bce in material such as stone. Although some have suggested that the great stone pillars commonly attributed to this monarch were erected before his time, the symbolism of the capitals functions effectively with the inscriptions to suggest that they were made explicitly for the purpose of carrying Aśoka's inscriptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBetween the Empires
Subtitle of host publicationSociety in India 300 BCE to 400 CE
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199850884
ISBN (Print)9780195305326
StatePublished - Oct 3 2011


  • Aśoka
  • Capitals
  • Chronology
  • Indian art
  • Inscriptions
  • Stone pillars
  • Symbolism


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