Tag Archives: Ancient Indian history

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

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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

 

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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

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

Parinirvana of the Buddha : depictions in art

      The word parinirvana refers to death which happens to the body of a person after attaining nirvana; a release from samsara , the cycles of birth and death and rebirth. This is different from an ordinary person dying, as per Buddhism.An ordinary person is reborn due to unresolved karma which passes on to a new birth.

   The pariniravana of the Buddha is mentioned and described in Buddhist literature. The parinirbanna-sutta  is an important source in this regard. According to this source of the Pali canon the Buddha around the age of eighty  declared he would soon reach parinirvana , the final deathless state. He had his last meal which was an offering from Cunda, a blacksmith. He fell violently ill after this and left his earthly body. The place is believed to be Kushinara or Kushinagar, (east of Gorakhpur in present day Uttar Pradesh) India, in abandoned jungles of the Malla kingdom.  His disciple Ananda was against him achieving this state in the jungles. He also explained to Ananda that the meal had nothing to with his death, in fact it was a great meal as it was the last meal of a buddha  or enlightened one. Before entering pariniravana he asked all the bhikkhus or monks to clear any doubts or questions they had. His final words were ” ..all composite things are perishable… strive for your own liberation with diligence..”After this he passed away into parinirvana. The Buddha had told his disciples to follow no leader. Mahakasyapa was made the chairman of the First Buddhist Council. His body was cremated and his relics were divided between eight royal families and his disciples. Much later Emperor Ashoka enshrined them in stupas. He built a stupa and made a pilgrimage site in Kushinara, the Gupta kings (4th to 7th century) further developing the site. Kushinara had remained under the Mauryas, Shungas, Kushanas, Guptas and Harsha dynasties.The site had been abandoned around 1200 A.D due to invasions. It continues as an important pilgrimage site for Buddhism, following its rediscovery by  British archaeologists in late 19th century.

File:Death of the Buddha BM.jpg

Pariniravana,schist, 2nd-3rd century,Gandhara.

© Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons
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Paranirvana, 2nd-3rd century,Gandhara. 

Volné dílo, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3244686

File:Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Buddha Parinirvana.jpeg

Pariniravana, painting, Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra, 700-1100,Nalanda, Bihar.

By Asia Society created the file. Artwork created by an anonymous ancient source. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Parinirvana,painting, Wat Tha Thanon,Thailand.

By ผู้สร้างสรรค์ผลงาน/ส่งข้อมูลเก็บในคลังข้อมูลเสรีวิกิมีเดียคอมมอนส์ – เทวประภาส มากคล้าย (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Gal Vihara- Reclining image(js).jpg

Buddha, Gal Vihara,12th century,Sri Lanka.

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

Mahaparinirvana.jpg

Buddha image,Mahapariniravana temple, Kushinagar.

By myself – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1766418

The painting below depicts the Buddha transitioning to parinirvana. Buddha is  in a forest with Sala trees and surrounded by mourning animals, gods, demons, and human beings.

File:Parinirvana Buddha.jpg

‘Nehan-zu’/Parinirvana,painting,1867.

Offentleg eigedom, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=628097

References :

  1. wikipedia.org
  2. Fisher,Robert E./Buddhist art and architecture,London : Thames and Hudson,1993.

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author

Bodhisattvas in art : painted images

    Bodhisattva is a Sanskrit term for anyone who has generated bodhichitta, motivated by great compassionwhich is an intense wish to attain buddha-hood for the benefit of all. Bodhisattva is a being who has not attained enlightenment, and may refrain from nirvana in the hopes of aiding others to reach it. The term is applied to hypothetical beings with a high degree of enlightenment and power. Bodhisattvas are an important subject in Buddhist art.

In Indian Buddhism, the term bodhisattva referred to the Buddha in his former lives. The Jataka tales, which are the stories of the Buddha’s lives, depict the various trials of the bodhisattva to develop self-sacrifice and imbibe high moral values. In fact Mahayana Buddhism is based on the path of a bodhisattva.  It is believed that this term is synonymous with Bodhisattvayana. The list of Bodhisattvas include AkasagarbhaAvalokitesvara, Ksitigarbha,Mahasthamaprapta,Maitreya,Manjusri,Nio,Padmasambhava,Samantabhadra,Sangharama,Sitatapatra,Skanda,Tara,Vajrapani and Vasundhara. Suryaprabha and Supushpachandra are other bodhisattvas.

Bodhisattva Akasagarbha is related to space, Avalokitesvara is the bodhisattva of compassion and the most universally acknowledged bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism.  Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha is  revered in East Asian Buddhism and  depicted as a Buddhist monk. His name may be translated as Earth Womb. He is the guardian of children and patron deity of deceased children and aborted fetuses in Japanese culture. Mahasthamaprapta represents the power of wisdom.Maitreya is regarded as the future Buddha. Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on earth in the future, achieve complete enlightenment, and preach pure dharma or religious righteousness. Gautama Buddha before being born on earth was a Bodhisattva having attained this position by taking a vow for enlightenment, and then went through various births and was in Tushita heaven as the reigning Bodhisattva.

Manjusri is a bodhisattva associated with prajna or transcendent wisdom. Nio are two muscular guardians of the Buddha standing today at the entrance of many Buddhist temples in East Asia. Padmasambhava or Lotus-Born, also known as Guru Rinpoche. Samantabhadra is associated with action and he has made ten great vows .Sanghrama are revered in Chinese Buddhism and Taoism, a group of devas who guard viharas. Sitapatra or the white parasol is a protector against supernatural danger. Skanda is regarded as a devoted guardian of viharas and the Buddhist teachings. Tara is a female bodhisattva, or set of bodhisattvas, in Tibetan Buddhism. She represents success in work. Vajrapani is protector of Gautama Buddha and rose to symbolize the Buddha’s power.Vasudhara means stream of gems in Sanskritand she is the bodhisattva of wealth, prosperity, and abundance, similar to Goddess Lakshmi in Hinduism.

   The Bodhisattva path is an arduous, difficult monastic but glorious path one can take, as described in Buddhist texts. The bodhisattva has to take vows to work for the enlightenment of all beings by practising six imperfections.A bodhisattva is one liberates beings from samsara, cycle of death, rebirth and suffering. A bodhisattva’s mind is known as the bodhichitta or awakened mind .

Hinayana Buddhism recognizes only Maitreya.The painted images of Boddhisatvas have been made in countries wherever Mahayana Buddhism has  flourished.

Mural depiction of worshipping bodhisattvas, Wei Dynasty,6th century, China.

By unknown ancient Buddhist artist(s) – Cave 285. Wei Dynasty (535-556 A.D.), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9557200

Cave mural of Avalokitesvara, worshipping bodhisattvas,Tang Dynasty,618-907 A.D.

By unknown ancient Buddhist artist(s) – Cave 57. Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9557135

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Amitabha with  bodhisattvas,10th-14th century, Tokugawa Art Museum, Japan.

By Goryeo-Dynasty artist [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Painting of Akasagarbha, 13th century, Kamakura period,Japan.

By unknown artist – zAHGDjCz55_mHg at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22564534

Avalokitesvara painting,palm-leaf manuscript ,12th century, India.

By Asia Society created the file. Artwork created by an anonymous ancient source. – http://asiasocietymuseum.org/region_object.asp?RegionID=1&CountryID=2&ChapterID=10&ObjectID=479, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12596710

Ksitigarbha painting,  late 14th century,Goryeo, Korea.

By Unidentified artist – http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ho/07/eak/hob_29.160.32.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2826252

Mahasthamaprapta.jpg

Mahasthamaprapta,painting,13th century,China.

By China, Tangut State of Hsi Hsia, Khara-Khoto, 13th century – http://www.arthermitage.org/Painting/Mahasthamaprapta.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7754845

Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Maitreya Detail.jpeg

Maitreya ,illustration,manuscript,early 12th century, India.

By Metropolitan Museum of Art created the file. Artwork created by an anonymous ancient source. – http://www.nysun.com/arts/oases-of-color/83047/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11608769

Manjusri,illustration, palm leaf manuscript,Nalanda,700-1100, Bihar.

By Asia Society created the file. Artwork created by an anonymous ancient source. – http://asiasocietymuseum.org/region_object.asp?RegionID=1&CountryID=2&ChapterID=10&ObjectID=479, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11441578

Padmasambhava,wall painting,14th century,Bhutan.

By Baldiri – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2164202

Brooklyn Museum - Bodhisattva Samantabhadra.jpg

Samantabhadra,painting,late 18th-early 19th century.

By Unknown – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1993.192.2_transp4510.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10967395

Skanda as portrayed by Zhao Mengfu,Yuan Dynasty,13th-14th century, China.

By Prajnyaapaaramitaa_Hridaya_by_Zhao_Meng_Fu.JPG: Zhao Meng Fuderivative work: Tengu800 (talk) – Prajnyaapaaramitaa_Hridaya_by_Zhao_Meng_Fu.JPG, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9608296

White Tara, Tibet, 1644-1911 AD - Sichuan Provincial Museum - Chengdu, China - DSC04498.jpg

White Tara,painting,1644-1911,Tibet, Sichuan Provincial Museum,China.

By Daderot – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51626216

Vajrapani, painting on one side of the Buddha, Cave 1,Ajanta,7th century,Maharashtra.

By Indischer Maler des 7. Jahrhunderts – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=153071

Vasudhara Mandala, by Jasaraja Jirili, Nepal, dated 1365. Sotheby's.jpg

Vasudhara mandala,14th century,Nepal.

By Jasaraja Jirili – Sotheby’s, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15195963

 

 

 

 

 

 

References :

  • Thomas, P/Epics, myths and legends of India, Bombay : D. B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

 

© author

 

 

 

 

 

Buddha in art : images of enlightenment

      Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha or the enlightened one, was born in the sixth/fifth  century B.C. and was the founder of Buddhism, a religion based on his teachings. He was Siddhartha Gautama and also Shakyamuni Buddha. He lived and taught mostly in Magadha and Kosala in eastern India of ancient times. He attained Enlightenment or full Buddhahood as  understood in Buddhism.

     He preached a middle path between over-indulgence connected with the senses and severe asceticism.He shared his insights to help sentient beings end rebirth and suffering. His discourses, monastics and various accounts and incidents of his life were summarised by his disciples and followers. The knowledge was passed on through oral tradition and written accounts were made 400 years later.   The sources for the life of Siddhārtha Gautama are a variety of different, and sometimes conflicting, traditional biographies. These include the Buddhacharita, Lalitavistara Sutra, Mahavastu, and the Nidanakatha . The Jataka tales tell tales about his previous births.

      Gautama was born as a Kshatriya, the son of Suddhodana,  chief of the Shakya clan whose capital was Kapilavastu, Gautama was the family name. His mother was Maya-devi.

      At the age of 29 Siddhartha left his palace,his wife and son, despite his father’s efforts to hide from him the sick, aged and suffering. Siddhartha was said to have seen an old man,a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic. All this depressed him, and he tried to overcome ageing, sickness, and death by living the life of an ascetic sage. However Gautama realised that meditative dhyana was the right path to awakening, but that extreme asceticism did not neccesarily  work.

          Gautama meditated  under a pipal ( variety of fig) tree or Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya where he vowed to meditate until he had found the truth. Evil demons like Mara tried to disturb him along with his army. He raised violent storm and rain. He even sent his daughters to seduce him. After  49 days of meditation, at the age of 35, he is said to have attained Enlightenment, and became the Buddha or Enlightened one. He realised the Middle Way, a path of moderation or the Noble Eight-fold Path is the right way. Thus he attained liberation from samsara or the cycles of birth or death.At the age of 84, the Buddha announced that he would  reach Parinirvana, or the final deathless state.He abandoned his earthly body soon after having his last meal.

File:Four Scenes from the Life of the Buddha - Enlightenment - Kushan dynasty, late 2nd to early 3rd century AD, Gandhara, schist - Freer Gallery of Art - DSC05124.JPG

Enlightenment of Buddha,schist, 2nd-3rd century,Kushana,Freer Gallery, USA.

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

The Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad are 30 rock-cut cave monuments which date from the 2nd century B.C to 600 A.D. The caves include paintings and sculptures considered to be masterpieces of Hindu, Jaina and  Buddhist religious art including the Jataka tales.The caves were built in two phases starting around 2nd century BC, with the second group of caves built around 600 A.D.  A sculpture from Ajanta of Buddha in padmasana is depicted below, his hands in dharmachakra mudra.

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Buddha, Ajanta caves, near Aurangabad,Maharashtra.

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

 

 

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Buddha meditating while demon Mara tries to disturb him, painting, Lao monastery.

By myself (Painting in Laotian monastery) [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

 

Sri Lanka, Buddha, Sri, Lanka, Statue, Religion

Buddha meditating, sculpture, Gal Vihara, Sri Lanka.

Source of image : pixabay.com/en/photos/buddha/(CC O, Public domain)

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Manuscript of a meditating Buddha being disturbed by Mara, the demon,Pala period, Nalanda.

By Asia Society created the file. Artwork created by an anonymous ancient source. – http://asiasocietymuseum.org/region_object.asp?RegionID=1&CountryID=2&ChapterID=10&ObjectID=479, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11441827

 

Buddha,painting,Mogao caves, 4th-11th century, Dunhuang,China.

By AnonymousOriginal uploader was Евгений Ардаев at ru.wikipedia – Transferred from ru.wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7855466

 

 

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Buddha Tanhankara, 13th century, Upali Thein temple, Bagan, Myanmar.

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

File:Shakyamuni Buddha - Google Art Project.jpg

Thangka,Shakyamuni Buddha,18th century, Tibet,Rodin Museum of Art.

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

File:Buddha, resisting the demons of Mara, Wellcome V0046085.jpg

Buddha resisting Mara,lithograph,19th century,Sri Lanka. (Wellcome images)

See page for author [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:The Victory of Buddha.jpg

Victory of Buddha, painting, Abanindranath Tagore, Myths of the Hindus & Buddhists,1914.

Abanindranath Tagore [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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Buddha,acrylic on canvas,20th/21st century.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/

References :

  • Thomas, P/Epics, myths and legends of India, Bombay : D. B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

 

© author