Jones, Owen, 1809-1874. / The grammar of ornament
Indian ornament, from the exhibitions of 1851 and 1855, pp. 77-79 ff.
INDIAN ORNAMENT. the received forms of beauty of every bygone style of Art, without one single attempt to produce an Art in harmony with our present wants and means of production-the carver in stone, the worker in metal, the weaver and the painter, borrowing from each other, and alternately misapplying the forms peculiarly appropriate to each-there were to be found in isolated collections at the four corners of the transepts all the principles, all the unity, all the truth, for which we had looked elsewhere in vain, and this because we were amongst a people practising an art which had grown up with their civilisation, and strengthened with their growth. United by a common faith, their art had necessarily a common expression, this expression varying in each according to the influence to which each nation was subject. The Tunisian still retaining the art of the Moors who created the Alhambra; the Turk exhibiting the same art, but modified by the character of the mixed population over which they rule; the Indian uniting the severe forms of Arabian art with the graces of Persian refinement. All the laws of the distribution of form which we have already observed in the Arabian and Moresque Ornament are equally to be found in the productions of India. From the highest work of embroidery, or most elaborate work of the loom, to the constructing and decorating of a child's toy or earthen vessel, we find everywhere at work the same guiding principles,-there is always the same care for the general form, the same absence of all excrescences or superfluous ornament; we find nothing that has been added without purpose, nor that could be removed without disadvantage. The same division and subdivision of their general lines, which forms the charms of Moresque ornament, is equally to be found here; the difference which creates the style is not one of principle, but of individual expression. In the Indian style ornaments are somewhat more flowing and less convention- alised, and have, doubtless, been more subjected to direct Persian influence. The ornaments on Plate XLIX. are chiefly taken from Hookhas, of which there was an immense variety exhibited in 1851, aud all remarkable for great elegance of outline, and for such a judicious treatment of the surface decoration4_iat every ornament tended to further develope the general form. It will be seen that there are two kinds of ornament,--the one strictly architectural and conven- tional: such as Nos. 1, 4, 5, 6, 8, which are treated as diagrams; and the other, such as Nos. 13, 14, 15, in which a more direct imitation of nature is attempted: these latter are to us very valuable lessons, showing how unnecessary it is for any work of decoration to more than indicate the general idea of ai flower. The ingenious way in which the full-blown flower is shown in No. 15, in three positions in Nos. 14 and 15, the folding back of the leaf in No. 20, are very suggestive. The intention of the artist is fully expressed by means as simple as elegant. The unity of the surface of the object decorated is not destroyed, as it wouldE be by the European method of making the flower as near like a natural flower as possible, with its own light and shade and shadow, tempting you to pluck it from the surface. On the Persian, Plate XLVII., will be seen a similar treatment of natural flowers; the comparison shows how much of Persian influence there is in this floral style of India. In the application of the various ornaments to the different portions of the objects the greatest judgment is always shown. The ornament is invariably in perfect scale with the position it occupies; on the narrow necks of the Hookhas are the small pendent flowers, the swelling forms of the base are occupied by the larger patterns; at the lower edge, again, appear ornaments having an upward tendency, and, at the same time, forming a continuous line round the form to prevent the eye running out of it. Whenever narrow flowing borders are used, as in No. 24, they are contrasted by others, with lines flowing in an opposite direction; the general repose of the decoration is never for a moment lost sight of. In the equal distribution of the surface ornament over the grounds, the Indians exhibit an instinct 78
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