An Indian Philanthropist Helps Initiate an Open-Source Encyclopedia of Indian Art

The source covers 10,000 years of Indian art history

CNN Style reports on an interesting initiative to catalog the rich cultural and artistic heritage of India that dates back 10,000 years. It is done through an open-source encyclopedia initiated by one of the country’s leading collectors, the businessman and philanthropist Abhishek Poddar.

Poddar explained the initiative to CNN’s Oscar Holland: “I didn’t even realize that India didn’t have an encyclopedia for art. And it was quite shocking that being one of the oldest cultures in the world, nobody had thought of doing it. Every kid knows about (Michelangelo’s) ‘David,’ the ‘Mona Lisa’ and Botticelli, but there are Indian masterpieces that even 1% of India doesn’t know about.”

Poddar’s initiative has helped launch an encyclopedia of South Asian art with over 2,000 entries spanning famous artifacts, folk traditions, craft techniques, and cultural institutions from the region.

It is funded by Poddar’s Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), which opens later this year in the southern city of Bengaluru. The open-access resource was created by a group of around 20 researchers and editors. The content was internally peer-reviewed and overseen by a panel of expert scholars and writers.

As CNN Style explains, the site is aimed at everyone from students and academics to general-interest readers in India and beyond. Hoping to make the entries as accessible as possible.

CNN adds that the initial entries were curated to be representative of the subcontinent’s different religious, linguistic, and local traditions while featuring a broadly equal number of male and female artists. The encyclopedia is also intended to shine a light on the crafts and living traditions of marginalized communities, as well as lesser-studied facets of regional art history–from folk dramas and embroidery to the medieval Indian board game that is known in the US as Chutes and Ladders.

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