Arts of the Mauryan Period

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  • 6TH century BCE marks the beginning of new religious and social movements in the Gangetic valley in the form of Buddhism and Jainism which were part of the shraman tradition.
  • Magadha emerged as a powerful kingdom and consolidated its control over the other regions.
  • By the fourth century BCE the Mauryas established their power and by the third century BCE, a large part of India was under Mauryan control.
  • Ashoka emerged as the most powerful king of the Mauryan dynasty who patronised the shraman tradition in the third century BCE.
  • Worship of Yakshas and mother goddesses were prevalent during that time.
  • Buddhism became the most popular social and religious movement.
  • Yaksha worship was very popular before and after the advent of Buddhism and it was assimilated in Buddhism and Jainism.
  • Erection of pillars was prevalent in the Achamenian empire as well.
  • Mauryan pillars are different from the Achamenian pillars.
Mauryan Pillars
  • The Mauryan pillars are rock-cut pillars thus displaying the carver՚s skills, whereas the Achamenian pillars are constructed in pieces by a mason.
  • Stone pillars were erected all over the Mauryan Empire with inscriptions engraved on them.
  • The top portion of the pillar was carved with capital figures like the bull, the lion, the elephant, etc.
  • All the capital figures are vigorous and carved standing on a square or circular abacus.
  • Abacuses are decorated with stylised lotuses.
  • Some of the existing pillars with capital figures were found at Basarah-Bakhira, Lauriya Nandangarh, Rampurva, Sankisa and Sarnath.
  • The Mauryan pillar capital found at Sarnath popularly known as the Lion Capital is the finest example of Mauryan sculptural tradition.
  • Our national emblem carved with considerable care — voluminous roaring lion figures firmly standing on a circular abacus which is carved with the figures of a horse, a bull, a lion and an elephant in vigorous movement, executed with precision, showing considerable mastery in the sculptural techniques.
  • Symbolising Dhammachakrapravartana (the first sermon by the Buddha) has become a standard symbol of this great historical event in the life of the Buddha.
  • Monumental images of Yaksha, Yakhinisand animals, pillar columns with capital figures, rock-cut caves belonging to the third century BCE have been found in different parts of India.
  • shows the popularity of Yaksha worship and how it became part of figure representation in Buddhist and Jaina religious monuments.
  • Large statues of Yakshas and Yakhinisare found at many places like Patna, Vidisha and Mathura.
  • Mostly in the standing position, distinguishing elements in all these images is their polished surface.
  • The depiction of faces is in full round with pronounced cheeks and physiognomic detail.
  • One of the finest examples is a Yakshi figure from Didarganj, Patna, which is tall and well-built Which shows sensitivity towards depicting the human physique where the image has a polished surface.
  • Terracotta figurines show a very different delineation of the body as compared to the sculptures.
  • Depiction of a monumental rock-cut elephant at Dhauli in Orissa shows modelling in round with linear rhythm.
  • Ashokan rock-edict.
Rock Editing of Ashokan

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