Category Archives: Gupta art

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

 

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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

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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.

File:1Temple 17 - Buddhist Monument - Sanchi Hill 2013-02-21 4493-2.jpg

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
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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

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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