"Bharat Mata", offset print, 1937, painting by P.S. Ramachandran Rao
From a review of Popular Indian Art: Raja Ravi Varma and The Printed Gods of India, Erwin Neumayer and Christine Schelberger. (The review includes two more illustrations from the independence movement.)
Usha Kris describes a tour of the ancient Roman trade route in South India:
This was during the Sangam age in South India — 200 B.C. to 300 A.D. The arts, crafts and literature flourished. There was plenty. The rivers were free flowing and provided a wonderful means to cross vast stretches of interior Tamizhagam, or the land of the Tamils, that, in those days, included Kerala. It was during this period that the Romans travelled east to India for trade. They came for spices, iron, precious stones, sandalwood, teak and ebony, exotic birds and animals — they even took peacocks back! Indian dancing girls had a special fascination for them, ivory and pearls (found in Tirunelveli), cotton and silk were other items that they were on the look out for. In return, they brought with them pots of gold and silver coins and jewellery, olive oil, wine, blue glass, metal and terracotta artefacts including lamps. Whereas they took back some 120 items, they brought in 30, showing that their need for exporting and trading in Indian goods was high.
As they traded with India through the Sangam period spanning 500 years, they had made many places their home and perfected the route that we had to trace, explore and speculate upon with the evidence that surfaces periodically. Sangam poems such as the "Ahananooru" and "Purananooru" refer to the Romans as "being loud, of coarse speech, wearing shoes, and a somewhat cruel people". .. (more)