On October 6th, 2023, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) organized the Second Ananda Coomaraswamy Memorial Lecture, an event aimed at commemorating the 76th Death Anniversary of A.K. Coomaraswamy. The lecture delved into the topic of “Towards Decolonizing Indian Art History,” with a particular focus on the “Problem of Mimesis in the Citrasutra.”

This topic of “Citrasutra” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy


Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was a pioneering art historian of the 20th century known for his intellectual landmark contributions to the field. His interpretative eloquence and advocacy for recognizing the indigenous roots of Indian art have left an indelible mark on art history.


Coomaraswamy’s work represents an intellectual landmark in art history, characterized by his deep understanding and interpretative prowess. He played a pivotal role in advocating for the recognition of the indigenous roots of Indian art, challenging colonial narratives.

The Citrasutra


The Citrasutra is a Sanskrit text that holds great significance in the realm of Indian art history.


This text is a part of the Vishnudharmottara Purana, a sacred Indian scripture that encompasses various aspects of art, culture, and religion.

Highlights of the Citrasutra

Paintings Classification

The Citrasutra classifies paintings into three categories:

  1. Chithra: Two-dimensional line drawing paintings.
  2. Ardha Chithra: Paintings in low relief.
  3. Chithra Bhasa: Paintings that resemble sculptures, blurring the lines between two-dimensional and three-dimensional art.

Six Limbs or ‘Shadanga’ of Indian Paintings

The Citrasutra outlines the six essential elements that constitute Indian paintings:

  1. Rupa-bheda: Depicting various forms.
  2. Pramanaa: Ensuring proportion in paintings.
  3. Bhava: Infusing emotions into the artwork.
  4. Lavanya Yojanam: Adding grace and elegance to the depiction.
  5. Sadrisyam: Achieving a semblance to reality.
  6. Varnikabhanga: Mastering the artistic manner of brushwork and color use.

Manual Insights

The Citrasutra provides valuable insights into the art of painting:

  • Line: The use of lines to define subjects and elements within paintings.
  • Paintings Rating: A system for rating paintings based on the successful incorporation of the ‘shadanga.’
  • Artist Quality Differentiation: It distinguishes between great and mediocre artists based on their mastery of these principles.

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