Category Archives: art history of India

Art of Harappan civilisation : some glimpses

     The Harappan civilisation existed predominantly in areas in present day Punjab in Pakistan. It is one of the oldest known civilisations. There was a bronze age city in a place near the village of Harappa and is an archaeological site in modern times. It was an urban culture, and flourished in the basins of the Indus river. Harappan civilisation is interchangeably used with the term Indus valley civilisation. Harappa was the first site to be excavated. The river Indus flows through present day Pakistan.

File:Ancient Harappa Civilisation.jpg

Ancient Harappa.

By Shefali11011 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

     More and more cities are being discovered and excavated of the Harappan civilisation. The area which the Indus valley civilisation covered was Western India, north-eastern parts of Afghanistan and most of Pakistan. The early Harappan age lasted from 3300 to 2600 B.C. the mature period was between 2600 to 1900 B.C. and the late age was from 1900 to 1300 B.C.

Indus Valley civilisation , main sites.

By The original uploader was Nataraja at French Wikipedia – Michel Danino, téléchargé par Nataraja 20 jan 2004 à 16:13 (CET)Originally from fr.wikipedia; description page is/was here., Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1744041

  The art of Harappan times were very impressive. The average person living in a city was either a trader or craftsman/artisan. Their art is evident on seals, pottery and beads. Also bronze vessels, gold jewellery and terracotta figures. The arts included working with agate, shell etc. Bronze casting was done too. Human and animal figures were depicted. Some were half of one animal and half of another.

   There seems  to have been a high degree of planning and civic planning as is evident from the ruins of Harappa. The common building material was baked brick. The cities of Harappa comprised not just of private houses but granaries, public wells and baths. Shops of metalsmiths, ivory workers and craftsmen existed at Lothal, a port city. Mohen-jodaro was an important site among the Indus Valley sites. There was a Great bath at Mohenjodaro, maybe used for a ritual purpose.

A well and probably bathing place at Harappa.

By Hassan Nasir (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0             (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       The advanced structure of the cities suggest an equivalent advance in the sculptural techniques. Many seals and terracotta sculptures have been found. A common subject is a  female – often called Mother goddess. Often a small child is seen with her. The dancing girl and bearded man who is most likely a priest are well known. the bearded man is made of limestone, maybe the figure is of a Mesopotmanian given the facial features and hair type. His garment over his shoulder is a type seen in Mesopotamanian art.

Statue of an Indus priest or king found in Mohenjodaro, 1927

Priest or bearded man, Mohenjadaro.

By Mamoon Mengal – world66.com, CC BY-SA 1.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1257115

   Another well preserved figure is of a bronze statue of a female. She has been projected nude with elongated limbs. She has been thought of as a dancer, because of the posture of her limbs. She is wearing jewellery; a necklace and bangles.

File:Dancing girl. Mohenjodaro.jpg

Dancing girl, Mohenjodaro.

By Ismoon (talk) 12:06, 20 February 2012 (UTC) (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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              Bowl from Harappa, National Museum, New Delhi.

By Nomu420 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30787092

 

 

     The terracottas found at Harappan sites are not very exquisite and were most probably a popular art. the women depicted have wide hips,pellet like breasts, tube like limbs and wear jewellery. Many bulls have been found at Harappan sites. The bull was representative of fertility and wealth. Many seals have been found at Harappan sites. The seals are made of stearite and coated with an alkali which was then fired. Most seals had animal or humans and a script or writing on them. The script was pictographic. The animals included elephants,rhinoceros, and the unicorn  with one horn; the ekashringa.

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Three different seals from early river valley civilizations

By MrABlair23 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11058028

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Seals of Harappa, National Museum, New Delhi.

By Nomu420 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30791882

   Seals with a male figure a proto-Shiva depicted seated with the soles of the feet together and legs on each side with arms away from the body and thumbs resting on the knees have been found. This figure has been termed a yogin.  The figure has either a horn or a head-dress. There are many speculations about this figure. The figure might be abull-man or a ruler/king.  The Hindu God Shiva is associated with the Bull, hence this figure is taken to be a prototype of Lord Shiva. There are animal figures around the central figure; this has been linked to Lord Shiva’s Pasupati aspect. The peepal  tree leaf motif has been used as a motif on pottery and seals.

                                                                     Pasupati seal.

                                                      Source of pic : wikipedia.org.

File:Female figure, possibly a fertility goddess, Indus Valley Tradition, Harappan Phase, c. 2500-1900 BC - Royal Ontario Museum - DSC09701.JPG

                 Exhibit in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

By Daderot (Daderot) [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Female figurine. Terracotta. 2700-2000., Harappa , at National Museum, New Delhi.

By Ismoon (talk) 21:50, 21 February 2012 (UTC) (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

WLA brooklynmuseum Harappa Miniature Votive Images.jpg

Miniature Votive Images or Toy Models, ca. 2500, Harappa.

By Wikipedia Loves Art participant “one_click_beyond” – Uploaded from the Wikipedia Loves Art photo pool on Flickr, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8747555

References :

  • The art of ancient india/Huttington,Susan L.,New York : Weather Hill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

 

Soma Ghosh

 

©author

 

Temple of Gop : an ancient marvel in Western India

       The Gop temple is one of the oldest stone temples of Gujarat in Western India. It was built in late 6th or early 7th century. Located in the Jamnagar district it has Gandhara architecture with a square shrine. Surrounded by double courtyards it has a unique shikhara. It is on  the bank of Vartu river, south-west of Gop Hill of Barda Hills. The art is a blend of Gandhara and north Indian Gupta art styles, including Kushana influence.

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Gop temple, north west view, image,1874.

By Burgess, James, 1874 – http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/apac/photocoll/o/largeimage62882.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44074068

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Inscription,Gop temple,Gujarat.

By James Burgess – Report on the Antiquities of Kutch & Kathiawar: Being the Result of the Second Season’s Operations of the Archaeological Survey of Western India, 1874-1875 p.187, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50922647

 

     The walls of the temple do not have any carvings, the shrine faces east like many temples in India. The shikhara is like a pyramid. The temple rests on a jagati  with a projection on the east but is otherwise square. There are three dormer windows called chandrasala which are on the slopes of the shikhara.  This temple was built by the Maitraka dynasty which was ruling Saurastra during the time. The Maitrakas came to power after the fall of the Guptas and are believed to have built over one hundred temples in the region.The Maitrakas ruled for over 250 years and are known to have given many grants for the construction of religious buildings. Their capital was Valabhi, an ancient sea port linking India with Persia and EuropeThe Chinese traveller Hsuen -Tsang  visited Valabhi in 640 A.D, the ancient capital of the Maitrakas.

      Large heavy blocks of stone have been used for the construction of the temple. There might have been steps to take the devotee to the entrance of the temple. The temple has been built without any cementing material. It is made of coursed ashlar which are 8 inches deep and jointed. The shikhara is made of six courses with one slab covering the apex with an amalaka on it. The dormer arches or chaitya windows of the shikhara in two tiers had sculptures of gods and a figure of Ganesha is still  seen on the temple’s west side. The holes which might have supported beams to hold the roof of the first inner courtyard can be seen clearly. The courtyards served as pradakshinapatha or circum-ambulatory path for the devotees. The yellow stone deities inside of the shrine are  Lord Rama with a high square mukuta or crown and Lakshmana with a lower  crown, believed  locally by people in the area.

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Gop temple, image,1999.

By Arnold Betten (eigenes Foto (Dia)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author

 

Chalukyas of ancient India : glimpses from Badami caves

        The Gupta dynasty and its successors had declined by the end of the 6th century and several changes took place in the Deccan and Southern India. By the time the Vakatakas had collapsed the early Kaluchuris dynasty established itself  around 520 A.D and flourished till 600 A.D.  The Kaluchuris are noted for Pasupata Saivism, a religious  movement in the Deccan and South Asia. They excavated the Jogeswari caves,Mandapeshwara,Elephanta and the Dhumar Lena at Ellora. They were overtaken by the Western Chalukyas of Karnataka. The Kadambas of Banavasi ruled in South Karnataka and were also overtaken by the Western Chalukyas, who were Dravidian and ruled from Badami (ancient Vatapi) and called Badami Chalukyas. Their ruler Pulakesin I fortified the area of Badami in 543 A.D.  Pulakesin II was its most notable ruler. He defeated Harsha on the banks of the Narmada. He expanded the kingdom to the northern limits of the Pallava kingdom. However in  642 A.D Pallava king Narasimhavarman occupied Badami for some time. Pulakesin died fighting. However the Chalukyas regained power under Vikramaditya I. Later Vijayaditya (696-733) ruled for 37 years and built many temples. Vikramaditya II ruled 733 – 744 A.D and was victorious over Pallava king Nandivarman II. He was a kind ruler, made temples at Kanchipuram too. Thus this early Chalukyan dynasty ruled most of the Deccan for 200 years; from mid 6th century to mid 8th century.  They were overthrown by the Rashtrakutas.This dynasty is remembered for it rock-cutting sculpture and later structural temples. The rock cut tradition is found at Aihole and Badami in Karnataka. The Ravana Pahadi Cave at Aihole was excavated in 550 A.D.

    The Badami caves were excavated under the Chalukyas who were patrons of art. Badami was the capital of the Early Chalukyas. Badami is 5 km from the Malaprabha river.The rock is sandstone and the caves are next to an artificial lake, Lake Agastya. There are four main caves.

Badami Caves, 6th century,Karnataka.

By SUDHIR KUMAR D – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28398778

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Badami Caves,6th century, Karnataka.

By rajeshodayanchal (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

      Cave 1 is Saivite. The forecourt of the cave is barely there. A mandapa with pillars and a small shrine are part of the cave. The facade has frieze of dwarfs. The sculpture of Nataraja with Ganesha and a drummer is seen at this cave. The image is 5 feet tall. The different arms are in different mudras and holding different objects. Nandi, the bull, the vehicle of Shiva can also be seen.  Adjoining the Nataraja is Goddess Durga as Mahisasuramardini.  This cave also has Ganesha, Kartikeya sculptures carved on its walls. There is also Harihara (half Vishnu, half Shiva) with Goddesses Lakhsmi and Parvati. There is also a relief sculpture of Shiva as ardhanarishwara, the androgynous Shiva along with consort Parvati. The verandah which is 75 feet by 65 feet has four columns with various carvings of Shiva. two dwarapalas guard the entrance. The carvings of this cave are ornate with the figures having borders around them with more reliefs of birds and animals. The ceiling has Vidyadharas. Lotus motifs have been much used. The roof has five carved panels with shesha,  yaksha figure, apsara and lotuses.

Nataraja at Badami caves, 6th century,Karnataka.

By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – Temple troglodytique dédié à Shiva (Badami, Inde), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37213652

Harihara,Badami Caves,6th century,Karnataka.

By Ismoon (talk) 21:54, 10 June 2013 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Cave 2 is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Steps lead to this cave which lies west of Cave 3. The entrance verandah is divided by four pillars with brackets further having sculptures. many Hindu deities are carved in this cave. Lord Vishnu as Trivikrama or Vamana is depicted in this cave. One foot is on the earth and one is directed north.Vishnu as Varaha too is depicted in this cave.  The dwarapalas of this cave are shown holding flowers. the columns are sculpted too showing mythological scenes including those from Lord Krishna’s life. The ceiling has a wheel with 16 fish spokes along with flying couples and swastikas.

Cave 3  is again a Vaishnavite cave with giant figures of Lord Vishnu as Trivikrama,Anantasayana,Varaha,Paravasudeva,Harihara and Narasimha. The cave faces north and is sixty steps away form Cave 2. The verandah is 70 ft. by 65 ft. and has four free standing pillars with carvings. this cave is fifteen feet high. There are fresco scenes on the ceiling,mostly mythological. Lord Brahma, the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati are depicted. The roof of the verandah has seven panels with paintings in circular compartments of Hindu deities and  images of dwarapalas.

Lord Vishnu,Badami Caves,6th century,Karnataka.

By Ismoon (talk) 17:00, 10 June 2013 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Sculpture2 near pillar bracket in Vaishnava cave temple no. 3 in Badami.jpg

Sculpture,Vaishnava cave temple,Badami Caves, 6th century.

By Dineshkannambadi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia CommonsImage result for badami caves

Carvings,Badami caves,6th century,Karnataka.

By Naane.naanu (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Lord Vishnu as Trivikrama,Badami Caves,6th century,Karnataka.

By Ismoon (talk) 15:49, 12 June 2013 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Cave 4 is located to the east of Cave 3, higher than the other caves. It is dedicated to Jaina deities. Like the others this cave is also richly carved. The entrance to the cave has five bays with four columns having brackets.  The verandah of this cave is smaller compared to the other caves.A hall behind the verandah has two free and two joined pillars. The sanctum sanctorum is reached through steps where Lord Mahavira is depicted seated on a lion throne. On two sides are attendants holding fly whisks. Parshvanatha is carved with a snake hood. This cave has Indrabhuti Gautama, Bahubali,Padmavati and also yaksha and yakshi figures.Temple troglodytique jaïn (Badami, Inde) (14352949993).jpg

Lord Mahavira,Badami Caves, Karnataka.

By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – Temple troglodytique jaïn (Badami, Inde), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37213634

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Tirthankaras,Badami Cave 4, Karnataka.

Cave 5 is not yet dated, small natural cave and can be approached only by crawling with a sculpted figure seated on a throne.

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Badami caves, 6th century,Karnataka.

By Raamanp (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

© author

 

Art of Gupta era : golden age of India

          The Gupta dynasty is an important dynasty which ruled ancient India between  4th century to 6th century. They have left amazing examples of their glorious reign which has been called the ‘Golden era’ of India’s history. During their rule art, sculpture, inventions, philosophy,mathematics and literature has flourished. The Kingdom was founded by Sri Gupta. Chandragupta I, Samudragupta and Chandragupta II were famous kings.

   Their art astonishes the onlooker and the serious art history student to this day.At Ajanta in Maharashtra are caves which have rock architecture along with painted walls and ceilings. A typical Gupta structure are chaitya halls and viharas  for Buddhist monks in the form of a monastery. The painted murals in the interiors of these caves are now world famous. Stone figures, terracotta reliefs have also been created during the Gupta period.  The Gandhara and Mathura schools reached greater heights during this period.

Padmapani, painting,Ajanta caves,Gupta period.

By Unknown – http://www.national-geographic.ru/ngm/200801/article_168/gallery_1394/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3411328

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Chaitya hall,Cave 19, Ajanta,Maharashtra.

By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

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Shalabhanjika,terracotta,, 5th century, Gupta period,State Museum,Lucknow.

By Woudloper – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36096802

     They introduced new styles in architecture. In the 4th century the Mirpur Khas stupa was built having many arches. Another stupa Dhamek stupa at Sarnath is made of bricks. The Guptas made fine standing sculptural temples made from stone and brick. The  stone Dasavatara temple at Deogarh has superb carvings. Other temples include the brick Parvati temple at Nachna in Madhya Pradesh

File:Monastery around Dhamek stupa, Sarnath.jpg

Dhamek stupa,Sarnath.

By R. M. Calamar from Brooklyn, New York, USA (Saranath Uploaded by Ekabhishek) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

          Examples of Hindu art during the Gupta era are from the north central and north India. The temples built by the end of the fifth century had a well developed shikhara or superstructure. The Vishnu temple called the Dasavatara temple at Deogarh in Uttar Pradesh is from the early sixth century. The shikhara is not in a good state due to the ravages of time.

Dasavatara temple, Gupta period, Deogarh.

By byron aihara – originally posted to Flickr as deogarh01, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8617319

The temple faces west with an elaborate doorway. Floral motifs, Ganga and Yamuna are at the top left and right of the doorway. Above the entrance is Lord Vishnu as Anantasayana. Further, Nara and Narayana  depict the means through which moksa may be achieved and Gajendramoksa story is the final outcome and is on the north.

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Lintel,Gupta period, Dasavatara temple,Deogarh,Uttar Pradesh.

By Bob King [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Nara-Naryana panel, Dasavatara temple, Gupta period,Deogarh.

By Bob King – originally posted to Flickr as 2705_Narayana_Detailfk.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6964968

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Parvati temple, Nachna, Madhya Pradesh.

By ArnoldBetten – Own work (Original text: eigenes Foto (Dia)), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25359563

       Vidisha was an important  art centre especially during the reign of Chandragupta II (380-415 A.D)  At Udayagiri a few km from Vidisha 20 rock cut caves are present. with inscriptions from his reign. Cave 6 at Udayagiri has a small camber with a rock cut verandah in front. The doorway has decorated pilasters,The goddesses Ganga and Yamuna are at the top of the pilasters. Two dwarapalas are at the sides of the doorway. The cave has Mahisarsuramardini on its facade, Ganesha  is adjacent to the left wall next to the facade. Vishnu is carved between the dwarapalas on the left and Ganesha, between the dwarapalas on the right and Durga. Cave 5 is the Varaha cave which has the representation of Varaha, the boar avatar of Lord Vishnu.

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Cave 6,Udayagiri,Madhya Pradesh.

By © Asitjain / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21676023

Udayagiri, Cave 6 Dvārapāla, Viṣṇu and Gaṇeśa.jpg

Cave 6, Udayagiri caves, Madhya Pradesh.

By Zippymarmalade – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48503988

     Examples of Buddhist art at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh include the now world famous  Great stupa  which saw a lot of additions and modifications during the Gupta period,in the 5th century. A figure of Vajrapani capital near the northern gateway is at the Site Museum at Sanchi. Mahayana forms became prominent at this time. Cosmologically speaking, access to enlightenment is gained through the north. There are four Buddhas on all four sides. He is depicted in dhyana mudra, indicative of meditation.

File:Buddha Statue, Sanchi Stupa, Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.jpg

Buddha statue, Great Stupa, Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.

By Suvro Banerjee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       During this time many new temples were added. At Sanchi is a temple called Temple 17 which is a well preserved small shrine. It has simple mandapa and a garbagriha. The temple has both Buddhist and Hindu architectural features.

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Temple 17, Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh

By Ismoon (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

   Art at Mathura has flourished during the Kushana reign. which ended by the end of late third century. Many minor dynasties like the Nagas etc. took their place. The Nagas were defeated by Samudragupta and Mathura came under the Guptas. The Buddha images of Sarnath are carved in  sandstone from Chunar. The Buddha is shown standing, having a slender body, relaxed with fluid lines. The style is a combination of the north-western and Indian stylisation of the human form. The sculptures must have been originally painted ones. The Buddha is mostly in the abhaya posture with a slightly bent leg. By the third quarter of the fifth century Sarnath had developed into an important Buddhist centre. Lord Buddha had given his first sermon here.The hand is lower compared to the Kushana sculptures. The drapery or cloth is very close around the body. The expression is gentle with eyes downcast .The dharmachakra mudra is also seen in some sculptures..

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Standing Buddha, 5th century, Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh.

By Ismoon (talk) 11:48, 18 February 2013 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Indian Museum Sculpture - Crowned Buddha, 5c, Sarnath (9217987833).jpg

Standing Buddha, 5th century,Sarnath,Indian Museum,Kolkata.

By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia – 090 Crowned Buddha, 5c, Sarnath, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37232665

   The Mahabodhi temple at Bodhgaya which has been repaired many times is from the late Kushana or Gupta period. The original structure was built by Emperor Ashoka. At present the temple has a central shrine with a tall tower with four smaller shrines around it.

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Mahabodhi temple, Bodh Gaya.

By Bpilgrim (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

        Dated to the fifth century on the cliff-side are a series of caves excavated at Bamiyan in Afghanistan. At the end of the valley a tall 55m figure of Buddha and similar smaller Buddhas are located on the other side about a kilometre and half away.Smaller devotees accompany the Buddha figures. The large Buddha could be Vairocana and is believed to be  associated with the cult of Brhad Buddha influenced by Indian Mahayana Buddhism.

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Buddhas at Bamiyan, 5th century,Afghanistan.

František Řiháček [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

At Bhitargaon is a well preserved structure of Gupta art from the first half of the fifth century. It is made of burnt bricks joined by mud mortar, the wall very thick. It is an east facing temple on a square jagati or plinth. There are niches on the exterior of the temple and the superstructure. There were many sculpted panels, many are now missing or partially destroyed. There are arches in the shrine and porch. Sculptures of this shrine have been similar to the ones at Ahichchattra in Uttar Pradesh, The Ganga and Yamuna figures originally were at the sides of a Shiva temple. Their costumes have tight bodices and heavy drapery. Their corresponding vahanas or vehicles, the makara and the tortoise are seen, also an attendant with  parasol.

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Goddess Ganga, Ahichchatra,Gupta period,National Museum, New Delhi.

By Miya.m (Miya.m’s file) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Vishnu of Mathura, 5th century.jpg

Lord Vishnu, 5th century, Mathura, State Museum, Lucknow,Uttar Pradesh.

By Woudloper – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36096800

 

File:WLA haa Gupta Mithuna.jpg

Mithuna (loving couple), terracotta,5th century. Honolulu Academy of Arts,USA.

By Wikipedia Loves Art participant “Department_of_Trife” [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
File:Lakshamana cuts Surpanaka's nose.jpg

Ramayana Scene,Gupta Art,Indian National Museum,New Delhi.

By Fotografía tomada por el Dr. Benjamín Preciado Centro de Estudios de Asia y África de El Colegio de México [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Gupta artefacts 04.JPG

Mother Goddess,Gupta period.

By Nomu420 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Dinar of Chandragupta II LACMA M.77.55.20 (1 of 3).jpg

Dinar of Chandragupta II,4th century.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

File:Mahabharat, Gupta artefacts 03, National Museum, New Delhi.jpg

Mahabharata Scene, Gupta period,National Museum, New Delhi.

By Nomu420 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

Kushana art : views from ancient India

         Between the late 1st century to 3rd century the Kushanas ruled parts of Central Asia,northern India,ancient Gandhara (Pakistan and Afghanistan). They had arrived in Bactria in 135 B.C a branch of the Yuch-chih, called Kushana or Kusana; residents of Kan-su region of China. They were forced westward by policies of the Chinese Han dynasty. The Kushanas founded an empire. Their deities and kings were depicted on coins. They had issued coins in gold. The Kushanas believed that the emperor was a divine being. Shrines were built for them. The Mat shrine near Mathura is one of them.

      Kushana art depicts princes, royal portraits, images of Lord Buddha, scenes from his life etc. The art is influenced by Persian, Greco-Roman and Indian styles. The Gandhara and Mathura styles have unique characteristics. Under Kanishka I Buddhist art flourished, and many stone images were produced. He was responsible for the spread of Mahayana Buddhism from Gandhara to China.

        The Gandhara school of sculpture produced very natural looking figures influenced by the Hellenistic and Roman styles. Many  motifs were from Roman art, eg. vine scrolls,centaurs,cherubs bearing garlands etc. The sculpture was done in green phyllite and blue-green mica schist. Originally they were painted and gilded. The Buddha figures have youthful faces and resemble the Roman imperial statues.

       A gold coin below shows Oisho or Shiva with the ΑΔϷΟ (adsho Atar) on the left and Kanishka’s dynastic mark is seen on the right.

Kanishka I coin with Oisho/Shiva.

By I, PHGCOM, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2233710

 

 

Sculpture of a man, Kushana pertod.

Publiek domein, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=309963

      The sculpture below depicts from left to right, a Kushan devotee, the Bodhisattva Maitreya, Lord Buddha, the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, and a Buddhist monk.

File:BuddhistTriad.JPG

An early Buddhist triad. 2nd-3rd century CE. Gandhara. Musée Guimet.,Paris.

By No machine-readable author provided. World Imaging assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

    The Mathura school evolved in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh with its unique stylisations. The figures were made in red mottled sandstone available from the quarries at Sikri.The Buddhas produces are large in size, standing in abhaya posture, head is shaven with a ushnisa; a small tiered protuberance in the form of a spiral. The drapery is close to the body and the left shoulder is bare. As the school developed the hair got depicted as flat, tight curls on the head. Jaina images are similar. The Kushana  kings are shown wearing long boots, a conical cap and a belted tunic.

File:Jain Votive Plaque made in spotted red sandstone, Kushana artefacts, National Museum, New Delhi 03.jpg

Jaina votive plaque, red sandstone,Mathura,National Museum, New Delhi

By Nomu420 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The women figures carved during this period were sensuously beautiful with stylised proportions, depicted on pillars and gateways, yakshi-like in association with trees as symbols of fertility  or in toilet scenes.

 

File:Toilet bearer, Kushana.BKBhavan.jpg

Toilet bearer, Mathura,Bharat Kala Bhavan, Varanasi.

By Ismoon (talk) 23:50, 23 January 2013 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Kushana period Sculpture of an intimate couple.jpg

Mithuna, 2nd century.

By Nomu420 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

      The sculpture below depicts Queen Maya with female attendants and guards, one of whom holds a sword,  sleeping on a bed covered with a textile having floral scroll motif. Maya dreams of a six-tusked elephant that descends from heaven to enter her womb through her right side. the broken disc would have had an elephant. This miraculous conception marks the Buddha’s final birth into the world.

Dream of Queen Maya. Gandhara.Met.jpg

Dream of Queen Maya , Schist, Gandhara, Kushan period, 2nd century,  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

By Ismoon (talk) – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46247608

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

Sunga art of ancient India: some images

 

     The Sunga  dynasty was established by  Pushyamitra Sunga in 2nd century, around 185 B.C, in Magadha and extended up to Malwa. The last king was Devabhuti who ruled between 83 and 73 B.C. The Sunga dynasty has many contributions. They were patrons of art and knowledge. They were culturally more aligned to Hinduism. The Patanjali yoga-sutras and Mahabhasya were composed during this period.

     The Bharhut stupa at Madhya Pradesh  from the Mauryan times saw the railings reconstructed by the Sunga dynasty, many parts of it are presently at museums in India. Additions like the railings and modifications to the Great stupa at Sanchi ,Madhya Pradesh(which was built under King Ashoka of the Mauryas),  was also done under them. The decorations on the railings of the Bharhut stupa are ornate and depicted with yakshas, yakshis and Kubera, their leader. Medallions with floral patterns, busts of kings, Jataka tales and scenes from the life of the Buddha. The yakshas are depicted on the uprights. The art was executed over a period of time by different craftsmen and artisans from India. The style is a continuation of the Mauryan period. The human figures are seen wearing heavy and elaborate jewellery having metal beads. Though the early Sunga rulers were against Buddhism, Buddhist art flourished with the Mathura school.

     At Bhaja caves in Western Ghats was a Buddhist monastery for the monks to stay during the rainy months. The caves have  yaksha depictions on sides of the doorways, a deity on a chariot drawn by four horses etc. The railing at the Mahabodhi temple at Bodhgaya has mythical animals on medallions used on it for decoration.

Yakshi. Bharhut, Satna, C. 2nd cent BC. Bhopal Museum.jpg

Medallion from the balustrade (vedika), Bharhut stupa, Bhopal Archaeological Museum, Madhya Pradesh.

By Ismoon (talk) 17:42, 10 February 2013 (UTC) – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24580803

Balustrade and staircase, Great Stupa,Sanchi, Sunga period.

By Vivek Shrivastava – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29038176

       At Chandraketugarh in West Bengal, many archaeological finds of different historical periods have revealed some interesting statuettes and terracotta plaques from the Sunga period. Some are depicted below. As mentioned the figures are seen wearing elaborate jewellery and with elaborate head-dress.

Amourous royal couple Sunga 1st century BCE West Bengal.jpg

Amorous royal couple,1st century B.C, Chandaraketugarh,West Bengal.

By Uploadalt – Own work, photographed at the MET, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12572072

Chandraketugarth, epoca sunga, dea della fecondità, II-I sec. ac. 02.JPG

Fertility deity, 2nd -1st century B.C,Chandraketugarh, West Bengal.

By I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22568769

Chandraketugarth, epoca sunga, dea della fecondità, II-I sec. ac. 01.JPG

Mother and child, 2nd-1st century B.C,Chandraketugarh,West Bengal.

By I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22568766

KITLV 87926 - Unknown - Relief on the Bharhut stupa in British India - 1897.tif

Relief , Bharhut stupa,British India image, Madhya Pradesh.

By Unknown – Leiden University Library, KITLV, image 87926 Homepage media-kitlv.nl KITLV, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39953719

Yakshi on elephant.Bharhut.Bharat Kala Bhavan.jpg

Yakshi on elephant mount, red sandstone,Bharhut, 2nd century B.C, Bharat Kala Bhavan, Varanasi.

By Ismoon (talk) 19:25, 25 January 2013 (UTC) – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24188082

SungaAtalante.JPG

Balustrade-holding yaksha, Sunga period, 2nd -1st century B.C, Musée Guimet,Paris.

By No machine-readable author provided. World Imaging assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=337076

Jetvan bharhut.JPG

Bharhut sculpture, 2nd-1st century B.C., British Library,U.K.

By Beglar, Joseph David, 1875 – British Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25887679

File:Terracotta - Sunga Period - Showcase 10-16 - Prehistory and Terracotta Gallery - Government Museum - Mathura 2013-02-24 6316.JPG

Terracotta, Sunga Period,2nd -1st century B.C,  Government Museum,Mathura.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Male Playing Mridanga - Sunga Period - ACCN 57-4264 - Government Museum - Mathura 2013-02-24 6198.JPG

Man playing mridanga, Sunga Period, Government Museum,Mathura.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Winged female deity, Chandraketugarh, India, 2nd-1st century BC, terracotta, view 2 - Ethnological Museum, Berlin - DSC01685.JPG

Terracotta plaque,female deity, 2nd-1st century BC, Chandraketugarh, Ethnological Museum, Berlin.

By Daderot (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org
  • indianetzone.com

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

Mauryan art : images from ancient India

          The Mauryan period in the history of the Indian subcontinent lasted between 323 B.C to about 125 B.C. It started when king Mahapadma of the Nandas was overpowered by Chandragupra Maurya in Magadha. He was guided by Chanakya whose teachings are revered even today. The Mauryan rule achieved great unity in ancient India, not just culturally but also politically. His grandson was King Ashoka who erected pillars at many places.

      The art of this time is evident from pillars, stupas and caves. Some remains of the capital city of Pataliputra are available which throw light on the styles prevalent. Greek influence is found on the style of art and architecture.

      The stupas at Sanchi,Sarnath and Amaravati were built as brick and masonry mounds during the reign of Ashoka. Pillars erected by him are found in Afghanistan,Nepal border,Odisha and Karnataka. The pillars were carved in two types of stone, red and white sandstone from Mathura; buff coloured, fine grained,sandstone with small black spots, from Chunar near Varanasi.

 The religious pillars were erected across the Gangetic plain, inscribed with Ashokan edicts. The capital part of the pillar had an animal; the lion capital of Sarnath, bull capital of Rampurva in Bihar, lion capital of Lauria-Nandangrah,also at Bihar.

Ashoka pillar,Vaishali, 3rd century, Bihar.

By mself – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1762981

       Pottery is associated with the Mauryan times; Northern Black Polished Ware is typical of early Mauryan era. It was made of alluvial clay either greyish or red. It was given burnished dressing , a jet black or deep grey glaze. This was used for dishes and bowls.

MauryanRingstone.JPG

Mauryan ringstone, with standing goddess. Northwest Pakistan. 3rd century B.C,British Museum,U.K

By No machine-readable author provided. World Imaging assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=342265

The Pataliputra capital shows Greek and Acheamenid influence. It is dated to 3rd century B.C. it has volute, bead, reel and honeysuckle motifs. The capital city had a large timber palisade around it. it had 64 gates and 570 towers as per Megasthenes. The towers were made of sandstone similar to Ashokan pillars. Mauryan architecture can still be seen at the Barabar mounts, grottoes of Lomas Rishi.

Pataliputra Palace capital by L A Waddell 1895.jpg

Pataliputra palace capital.

By L.A. WADDELL (1854-1938), author of the book and the photograph – “Report on the excavations at Pataliputra (Patna)” Calcutta, 1903, page 16 [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52346710

MauryaStatuettes.jpg

Statuettes of the Maurya period, 4th-3rd century B.C, Musée Guimet,Paris.

By No machine-readable author provided. World Imaging assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1145968

Rampurva bull capital side.jpg

Bull capital Rampurva, Indian Museum, Kolkata.

By User:Tinucherian – Composite of Wikipedia Commons [File:Indian Museum Kolkata 1527.jpg] (partial top, broken), and [File:Indian_Museum_Kolkata_1525.jpg] (base) with verification of design accuracy., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52572066

 

Female figure, northern India, Maurya period, c. 320-200 BCE, terracotta, HAA.JPG

Female figure, teracotta,Maurya period, North India.

By Hiart – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17609801

 

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author