Thursday 15 February 2018

Rediscovering a scholarly legacy - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Indian performing arts traditions are remarkably rich in scholarly treaties. Placed around the onset of Christian era, Bharata’s Naṭya Shastra is probably the earliest known arts compendium in the world and notable as an ancient encyclopedic treatise that influenced dance, music and literary traditions in India. Its text comprised 36 chapters with a cumulative total of 6,000 poetic verses describing performing arts and inspired secondary literature of Sanskrit Bhashyas(reviews and commentaries), as compiled by Abhinava Gupta in the 10th century and by Nandideva in the 10-11th century. Nandikeshvara, regarded by many as a rival of Bharata, was the author of Abhinaya Darpana (The Mirror of Gestures) in the 2nd century, used often as a reference text for both Bharatanatyam and Kathak today. Matanga’s Brihaddeshi, pertaining to Indian classical music and written in 6th-8th centuries, was the first treatise that spoke directly of the raga and distinguished the classical (margi) and the folk (desi). It also introduced Sargam notation, discussing musical scales and micro-tonal intervals, as clarifications of Natya Shastra on which its author had based his work.

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