Shilpa Shastras


Shilpa Shastras (Sanskrit: शिल्प शास्त्र śilpa śāstra) actually implies the Study of Shilpa (expressions and specialties). It is an antiquated umbrella term for various Hindu messages that portray expressions, creates, and their plan rules, standards and measures. With regards to sanctuary plan, Shilpa Shastras were manuals for model and Hindu iconography, endorsing in addition to other things, the extents of a molded figure, structure, standards, which means, just as rules of design.
Sixty-four procedures for such expressions or artworks, now and again called bāhya-kalā “outside or reasonable expressions”, are generally identified, including carpentry, design, gems, farriery, acting, moving, music, medication, verse and so forth., other than sixty-four abhyantara-kalā or “mystery expressions”, which incorporate for the most part “sensual expressions, for example, kissing, grasping, and so on. (Monier-Williams s.v. śilpa).
While Shilpa and Vastu Shastras are connected, Shilpa Shastras manage expressions and artworks, for example, shaping sculptures, symbols, stone wall paintings, painting, carpentry, ceramics, gems, kicking the bucket, materials and others. Vastu Shastras manage building design – building houses, fortifications, sanctuaries, condos, town and town format, and so forth.


Shilpa (शिल्प) alludes to any workmanship or art in antiquated Indian writings, while Shastra implies science. Together, Shilpa Shastra implies the study of craftsmanship and specialties. The old Sanskrit writings utilize the term Shilpin (शिल्पिन्, male craftsman) and Shilpini (शिल्पिनी, female craftsman) for craftsmen and makes individual, while Shilpani alludes to works of specialties of man.

Shilpani, gems of man,
impersonate the heavenly structures,
by utilizing their rhythms,
they metrically reconstitute,
what’s more, decipher the boundless information,
of the consecrated songs,
from the restrictions of being human.
—  Aitareya Brahmana, Apparatus Veda, 6.5.27

The significance of Shilpa, as per Stella Kramrisch, is mind boggling. She composes that it comprises of “craftsmanship, aptitude, make, work, creativity, custom and custom, structure and creation.” The scope of artworks incorporated by the term Shilpa stretches out to each part of culture, incorporates stone carver, the potter, the perfumer, the wheelwright, the painter, the weaver, the designer, the artist, the artist, human expressions of adoration, and others. Antiquated Indian writings declare that the quantity of expressions of the human experience is boundless, they send sixty four kala (कला, strategies) and thirty two vidyas (विद्या, fields of information). Shilpa is talked about in Agamas, Puranas and Vastu Shastra where it is connected to the folklore of Vishvakarma.

In painting

Shilpa Shastras remember parts for works of art, both little and huge. For instance, Narada Shilpa Shastra devotes parts 66 and 71 to painting, while Saraswati Shilpa Shastra portrays different kinds of chitra (full artistic creation), ardhachitra (sketch work), chitrabhasa (correspondence through canvas), varna samskara (planning of hues).
Other antiquated Shilpa Shastra on painting incorporate Vishnudharmottara Purana and Chitralakshana, previous is accessible in Sanskrit while the main enduring duplicates of last are in Tibetan (both were initially composed on birch bark, and have been converted into English and German). These Sanskrit treatises talk about the accompanying parts of a work of art: estimation, extents, viewpoint of the watcher, mudra, feelings, and rasa (which means). Such a methodology of Indian works of art, states Isabella Nardi, make Shilpa Shastra standard literary sources as well as a way to transmit information and otherworldly topics.

In carpentry

The main part of Shilpa Shastra Manasara examines the estimation standards for carpentry. The ninth century rendition of Mayamata content of Tamil Nadu and sixteenth Century variant of Shilparatna of Odisha portray takshaka and vardhaki as wood Shilpins; takshaka has the information on wood types and practices the craft of cutting wood, while vardhaki has the information on wood structures and practices the specialty of carpentry. Probably the soonest notice of carpentry expressions is in Book 9, Part 112 of Apparatus Veda. Carpentry was additionally a fundamental Shilpa Shastra during the development of a Hindu sanctuary.

In metallurgy

The Vedas, specifically Atharva veda and Sthapatya veda, depict numerous sorts of expressions and specialties in their conversation of Shilpa Shastra and Yantra Sarvasva. The Apparatus veda, states Ravi, specifies gear utilized in throwing, for example, dhamatri (dome), gharma aranmaya (pot) and bhastri (blower). These conversations are with regards to making symbols, and portray rules to accomplish best talmana (extents), mudra (position) and bhava (articulation).
Sanskrit messages, for example, Shilparatna and Manasara depict in detail the procedure and standards for work of art with metals, especially for combinations, for example, panchadhatu (five metals – zinc, tin, copper, silver and gold) and ashtadhatu (eight metal amalgams – which includes iron, lead and mercury to panchadhatu). Madhuchista Vidhana (cire perdue or lost wax) throwing process is the most talked about procedure in these old shilpa shastras with metals. Kirk recommends that these Shastras diffused from India to other antiquated societies in Asia.
While there is experimental proof of high virtue metallurgy and fine arts with different metals, some antiquated Shilpa Shastras have been lost. For instance, the fifth century Iron Mainstay of Delhi, which stands 23 feet, gauges 6 tons and contains 99.72% iron without giving any indications of rust, is observational proof of the condition of metallurgical expressions in fifth century India.

Shilpa Shastra instruction in old India

Birth was no obstruction

All expressions were the space everything being equal, stations and the two sexual orientations in antiquated India. The antiquated writings of Parashara states that all artworks were rehearsed by anybody independent of family’s occupation. The Buddhist Jatakas notice Brahmin woodworkers, the fourth century content Baudhayana portrays chariot developers, craftsmen, block laborers, potters and metal specialists from individuals of individuals delegated Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. Suttavibhanga depicts manufacturers and wheelwrights destined to Shudra father and Brahmin mother, who by later messages would be portrayed as untouchables. The goldsmiths of Maharashtra included youngsters conceived in steers grouping families.


Understudies joined and prepared under bosses. The best were embraced and perceived as individuals from different craftsmanship organizations. The preparation started from youth, and included examinations about dharma, culture, perusing, composing, science, geometry, hues, devices, just as prized formulas – these were called Custom.


Shilpins had shaped Śreni (societies) in old India. Every organization framed its own laws and implicit rules, one the old Hindu and Buddhist lords of India regarded by custom. Now and again, the ruler built up the laws of the organizations; sometimes, the lord’s treasurer had the last word and filled in as judge of different societies in a realm. These societies, in the first thousand years BC, incorporated every one of the individuals who rehearsed the workmanship independent of the craftsman’s station or doctrine. The pay of every organization originated from expenses paid by new individuals joining the society, from fines on those disregarding the set of accepted rules built up by the organization, and demands on instruments utilized for that workmanship. The organizations additionally performed foundation and skilled aggregate masterpieces by their individuals to sanctuaries and other social works. During celebrations and social festivals, every organization would contribute their own exhibition and structures with banners and symbols.

Workmanship is profound

Imaginative work and craftsmen were conceded the authorizations of a ceremony in old Indian culture, states Stella Kramrisch. A craftsman communicates the otherworldly and sacredness in their specialty. This conviction keeps on showing itself in current India as ceremonies, where in a harvest time celebration (Dashahra), skilled workers in parts of India love their devices with incense, blossoms and unhusked rice.
Brhat Samhita at sections 57.10-11 depicts the act of woodworkers offering petitions and looking for absolution of a tree before cutting it for wood. The hatchet used to cut the tree would be scoured with nectar and spread to limit the hurt to the tree which was viewed as a living being. Specialty was viewed as utilization of pith of Purusha (All inclusive Standards) to parts of nature in order to change it into a masterpiece.

Treatises on Shilpa Shastras

Mayashastra (image printing, wall decoration)
Bimbamana (painting)
Sukratniti (pratima – murti or vigraha making, icon design)
Vishnu dharmottara purana (literature, music, theatre, dance, painting, sculpture, iconography, architecture)
Agamas (have chapters on other shilpa shastras)
Agni purana (iconography)
Brahmanda purana (mostly architecture, some sections on arts)
Vastu vidya
Pratima lakshana vidhanam
Manasara (many chapters on casting, moulding carving, polishing and making of arts and crafts)
Pratima mana lakshanam (includes chapters on repair of broken idols and art works)
Dasa tala nyagrodha pari mandala
Sambudhabhasita pratima lakshana vivarana nama
Mayamatam (construction – architecture, vehicles, etc.)
Brhat Samhita
Shilpa ratnam (Purvabhaga book has 46 chapters on arts and construction of house/towns, Uttarabhaga has 35 chapters on sculpture, icons and related topics of smaller scale)
Yukti kalpataru (various arts, including jewelry)
Shilpa kala darsanam
Samarangana Sutradhara
Vishva karma prakasam
Matsya purana
Garuda purana
Kashyapa shilpashastra
Bhavishya purana (mostly architecture, some sections on arts)
Alankara shastra
Artha shastra (general crafts such as windows and doors, as well as public utilities)
Chitra kalpa (ornaments)
Chitra karmashastra
Maya shilpashastra (in Tamil)
Vishvakarma shilpa (arts on columns, wood working)
Agastya (wood based arts and crafts)
Mandana Shilpa Shastra (diya, lamps related crafts)
Ratna shastra (pearls, string, jewelry crafts)
Ratna pariksha (jewelry)
Ratna samgraha (jewelry)
Laghu ratna pariksha (jewelry, lapidary)
Manimahatmya (lapidary)
Agastimata (lapidary crafts)
Anangaranga (erotic arts)
Kamasutra (artistic activities)
Rati rahasya (erotic arts)
Kandarpa chudamani (erotic arts)
Natya shastra (theatre, dance, music, fragments on painting and sculpture)
Nrttaratnavali (crafts for fashion and public performance)
Sangita ratna kara (crafts for fashion, dance and public performance)
Nalapaka (food, utensils, and culinary crafts)
Paka darpana (food, utensils, and culinary crafts)
Paka vijnana (food, utensils, and culinary crafts)
Pakarnava (food, utensils, and culinary crafts)
Kuttanimatam (textile arts)
Kadambari by Banabhatta (chapters on textile art and crafts)
Samaymatrka (textile arts)
Yantra Kosha (musical instruments, Overview in Bengali Language)
Sangita ratna kara (music crafts)
Śilpa-ratna-kośa (architecture, sculpture)
Cilappatikaaram (a 2nd-century Tamil classic on music and dance, sections on musical instruments)
Manasollasa (arts and crafts relating to musical instruments, cooking, textiles, decoration)
Vastuvidya (sculpture, icons, painting, and minor arts and crafts)
Upavana vinoda (Sanskrit treatise on arbori-horticulture arts, garden house design, aspects of house plants related crafts)
Vastusutra Upanishad (oldest known Sanskrit Shilpa Shastra text, 6 chapters, deals with image making, describes how image arts are means of communicating emotions and spiritual freedom).

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