Adolph Loos, the Viennese architect and polemicist, infamously assailed ornament as a crime, but, globally and historically speaking, he and his fellow modernists are in the minority. The will to decorate is a universal trait, and it reaches its apogee in India.
As I wrote in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The whole subcontinent is bedecked to the nines, with patterns and vivid colors, profusions of flowers and lots of gold. You see it not only in ornate temple decorations but also in pageantry of everyday life, particularly the dress of Indian women and their abundant jewelry, worn head to toe.
“As you will discover visiting ‘When Gold Blossoms,’ an exhibition of exquisite Indian jewelry at the Michael C. Carlos Museum, this will to decorate — be it buildings or bodies — is not simply an aesthetic preference, a desire to beautify or ostentation. Ornament plays a critical role in the practice of Indian religion, the machinery of social relationships and the expression of identity.”
For more, see the story in the AJC.