Mauryan Indian Art Sanchi

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The next phase of sculptural development at Sanchi Stupa-1, Mathura, and Vengi in Andhra Pradesh (Guntur District) is noteworthy in the stylistic progression.

Image of Vengi In Andhra Pradesh

Image of Vengi in Andhra Pradesh

Image of Vengi In Andhra Pradesh

  • Stupa-1 at Sanchi has upper as well as lower Pradakshina patha or circumambulatory path.

  • Depiction of posture gets naturalistic and there is no stiffness in the body. Symbols continue to be used representing the Buddha and the Manushi Buddhas or the past Buddhas (according to the textual tradition, there are twenty-four Buddhas but only the first one, Dipankar, and the last six are pictorially represented).

  • At Sanchi Stupa-1, narratives get more elaborated; however, the depiction of the dream episode remains very simple showing the reclining image of the queen and the elephant at the top.

  • The historical narratives such as the siege of Kushinara, Buddha’s visit to Kapilavastu, visit of Ashoka to the Ramgrama Stupa are carved with considerable details.

  • In Mathura, images of this period bear the same quality but are different in the depiction of physiognomic details. Mathura, Sarnath and Gandhara Schools.

  • The first century CE onwards, Gandhara (now in Pakistan), Mathura in northern India and Vengi in Andhra Pradesh emerged as important centres of art production.

  • Buddha in the symbolic form got a human form in Mathura and Gandhara.

  • The sculptural tradition in Gandhara had the confluence of Bactria, Parthia and the local Gandhara tradition.

  • The local sculptural tradition at Mathura became so strong that the tradition spread to other parts of northern India.

  • The best example in this regard is the stupa sculptures found at Sanghol in the Punjab.

Image of stupa sculptures at Sanghol in the Punjab

Image of Stupa Sculptures at Sanghol in the Punjab

Image of stupa sculptures at Sanghol in the Punjab

  • The Buddha image at Mathura is modelled on the lines of earlier Yaksha images whereas in Gandhara it has Hellenistic features.

  • Images of Vaishnava (mainly Vishnu and his various forms) and Shaiva (mainly the lingas and mukhalingas) faiths are also found at Mathura but Buddhist images are found in large numbers.

  • The images of Vishnu and Shiva are represented by their ayudhas (weapons).

  • The garments of the body are clearly visible and they cover the left shoulder.

  • Images of the Buddha, Yakshas, and Yakshinis, Shaivite and Vaishnavite deities and portrait statues are profusely sculpted.

  • In the second century CE, images in Mathura get sensual, rotundity increases, they become fleshier.

  • In the third century CE, treatment of sculptural volume changes by reducing the extreme fleshiness,

  • Movement in the posture is shown by increasing distance between the two legs as well as by using bents in the body posture.

  • The trend continues in the fourth century CE but in the late fourth century CE, the massiveness and fleshiness is reduced further and the flesh becomes more tightened, the volume of the drapery also gets reduced and in the fifth and sixth centuries CE, the drapery is integrated into the sculptural mass.

  • Transparent quality in the robes of the Buddha images is evident. In this period, two important schools of sculptures in northern India are worth noting.

  • The traditional centre, Mathura, remained the main art production site whereas Sarnath and Kosambi also emerged as important centres of art production.

  • Many Buddha images in Sarnath have plain transparent drapery covering both shoulders, and the halo around the head has very little ornamentation whereas the Mathura Buddha images continue to depict folds of the drapery in the Buddha images and the halo around the head is profusely decorated.

  • Visit museums at Mathura, Sarnath, Varanasi, New Delhi, Chennai, Amaravati, etc. to study the features of early sculptures