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Indian Philosophy in EnglishFrom Renaissance to Independence$
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Nalini Bhushan and Jay L. Garfield

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199769261

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199769261.001.0001

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A. K. Coomaraswamy, “Art and Swadeshi” (1910)

A. K. Coomaraswamy, “Art and Swadeshi” (1910)

(p.115) 1 A. K. Coomaraswamy, “Art and Swadeshi” (1910)
Indian Philosophy in English

Nalini Bhushan

Jay L. Garfield

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents an excerpt from Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy's 1910 essay, “Art and Swadeshi,” which forms a bridge between the thought about national identity and aesthetic theory by inquiring into the national character of Indian art. Coomaraswamy was born in Sri Lanka to a Sri Lankan father and an English mother. He spent most of his life in Boston, where he was curator of Asian art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He was a noted art historian and aesthetician, and his work addressed Indian national identity. Coomaraswamy was an active figure in the independence movement. In this essay, he comments on the sale of purani chiz, or “old things,” in Swadeshi shops and laments the loss of beauty of Indian craftsmanship due to Western commercialism. He argues that the loss of artistic understanding has ruined Indian industries and prevents the possibility of their revival, and that Swadeshi must be a religious-artistic ideal instead of something more than a political weapon.

Keywords:   national identity, aesthetic theory, craftsmanship, commercialism, Indian art, Swadeshi, Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy

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