Art And Architecture
Art of the Sunga,Satavahana and Saka Period
- Foreign and especially Greek ideas influenced the course of Indian art. It gave rise to entirely new school of art known as the Gandhara art.
- Stone usurped the place of wood for architectural purposes.
- The subject matter of the art was predominantly Buddhist.
- The Mauryan art was mostly the art of the court whereas the art of this period was of urban people. It reflects an intense feelings for nature and a vivid comprehension of the unity of all life.
- Consists of a hemispherical dome of brick surrounded with a shaft and umbrella which represents spiritual sovereignty of Buddhism. It is surrounded by a railing made of red sand stone.
- The sculpture relic on the gateway, pillars upright and cross-bars on the railings give us beautiful pictorial, representations of nature, the incidents from the Buddha’s life, Jataka tales and several humorous scenes.
- The stupa constructed by Ashoka at Sanchi was enlarged to nearby twice its size during Sunga period.
- The defects of the Bharhut sculpture are no longer seen here.
- During Satavahana period the stupa were also constructed in southern India. The most important of them were at Amravati, Bhattiprolu, Gantasala and Nagarjunkonda.
Know The Important Facts
- During the Buddhist period varnashram-adharma was a firmly established feature of society and it was explained that dvijas or twice born i.e., Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya, must pass through the four stages of life.
- There were women students designated as brahmavadinis or lifelong students of the sacred texts, and the sadyodvaha who prosecuted their studies till marriage.
- In the pre-Gupta period, among the Shudras, the lowest place belongs to the Chandalas and Mritapa.
- Hyperbolical descriptions of the spiritual powers of the faithful wife occur in the Tamil works also, like the Kural and Silappadikaram. Kannagi in the Silappadikaram enshrine imperishable examples of a wife’s deathless devotion to her husband.
- The figures at Amravati stupas are slightly rounder, tall, slim and in fuller and more delicate modelling. They are represented in most difficult pose and curves.
- The figure of the Buddha is frequently represented by a symbol of lotus or foot-prints.
Pillars and Towers
- The most famous of the towers that gained fame throughout Asia was that of Kaniska. It was a Pagoda constructed at Purushpur over the relics of the Buddha. Today this tower has completely perished.
Rock-cut Viharas and Chaitya Halls
- The caves which served the purpose of residence of the Buddhist monks were plain buildings having a big central hall, small cells around it and a pillared varandah in front of it.
- The caves which were used for prayer, worshiand meditation were extensive halls known as Chaityas.
- The largest of all the Chaitya caves and one of the finest monuments of India is the Chaitya Hall
at Karle, constructed in the first quarter of the second century A.D.
- The Buddha was neve-represented before Mathura school, at Sanchi, Bharhut, and Bodh Gaya
Know The Important Facts
- In the Milindpanho the widow heads a list of persons who are despised and condemned in this world.
- During the Gupta period the aboriginal tribes Pulindas, Sabaras and Kiratas etc. lived in the hills and forests of the Vindhyas.
- Vatsyayana gives us a long list of sixty-four subsidiary branches of knowledge (angavidya) which should be learnt by women.
- According to the Vishnu Purana the age of the bridegroom should be three times that of the bride.
- The Smritis permit the life of a lower varna to participate in religious ceremonies only if the husband had no wife of his own varna.
- The reference to anumarana in Kamasutra testifies the prevalence of sati in the Gupta period.
- Kamasutra gives a vivid picture of the life of a nagaraka or city-bred wealthy man of fashion.
- The gotra signified the common ancestor of each subcaste.
- Fron conception to cremation the number of sanskaras each individual was supposed to perform was sixteen.
- In the dharmasastras, however, only twelve sanskaras have been prescribed.
- Punarbhu was a remarried widow.
- The Buddhist and Jaina works refer to the rich Vaishya capitalist class as Grihapatis.
- The proliferation of the Kshatriya class took place because of the assimilation of foreigners as second class Kshatriyas.
- Illegitimate offspring of a Brahmin couple were counted as Shudras.
- Jantric sect gave women an important place in their cult and instituted orders of female ancetics.
- The Skanda Purana describes the Shudras as annada.
in the human form but by a symbol of either two foot prints or a lotus or a wheel.
- The figure at Mathura were carved out boldly against the plain surface.
- Certain heaviness of form, ogle-eyed, broad masculine chest and shoulders and a firm body form expressive of enormous pent uenergy are the general characteristics of Mathura statues of Buddha and Bodhisattvas.
- Besides the cult-images, heavy life size portrait statues of the Saka-Kushan kings were also made at Mathura.
- A large number of male and female figures were chiselled out at various sites in Mathura.
- Gandhara school was intimately connected with the Mathura school of Buddhism.
- Sometimes it is labelled Graceo-Buddhist or Indo-Hellenic.
- Outside India Gandhara art be- came very popular as it termed to be the parent of the Buddhist art of the Eastern or Chinese Turkistan, Mongolia, China, Korea and Japan.
- Images were executed in stone, stacco, terracotta and clay and appears to have been invariably embellished with gold leaves.
- The Gandhara school has a tendency to mould the human body in a realistic manner with great attention of accuracy of physical details, especially by the delineation of muscles and the addition of moustaches.
- The images were represented by the thick drapery with large and bold fold lines.
- The Gandhara sculptures reveal rich carving elaborate ornamentation and complex symbolism.
- While comparing the Buddha images were evolved at Mathura and Gandhara, there appears a striking difference between the Buddha images of Gandhara and those of the Mathura. The former laid stress on accuracy of anatomical details and physical beauty while the latter strove towards imparting a sustine and spiritual expression to the figure. The one was realistic and the other idealistic.
- The most important contribution of the Gupta art is evolution of the perfect types of divinities, both Buddhist and Brahmanical.
- A large number of Buddha and Bodhisattva images of the Gupta period, made of stone and bronze, have been discovered in the different excavated sites of India and in the largest number in Sarnath and Mathura.
- The artists of the Gupta age introduced some innovations with reference to the Buddha statue.
- They introduced beautiful curly hair in contrast to the shaven head of the Kushana Buddha statue.
- Band of graceful ornamentation of different kind introduced in the halo of the Buddha figure was another feature.
- The transparent drapery, plain or with fold clearly revealing the form was a notable distinguishing feature.
- The Gupta Buddha image was absolutely independent of the Gandhara school.
- The images of Siva, Vishnu and other Brahmanical Gods like Sun, Kartikeys have also been found.
- The epic stories from the Rama and the Krishna cycles are represented with effective success in the Veagarh temple sculpture.
Know The Important Facts
- Agrahara grants were restricted to Brahmins.
- These grants were meant to be perpetual, heritable and tax-free.
- The Nalanda and Gaya grants of Samudragupta are the earliest records that throw lights on the agrahara grants.
- Devagrahara grants are concerned with donations to persons of various classes such as writers, merchants etc. for the purpose of repair and worshiof temples.
- Sub infeudation—Gupta grants from Bengal and eastern India do not authorise the beneficiary to alienate or grant his rents or lands to others.
- But the Indore grants of Skandagupta in central India authorises the grantee to enjoy the land, cultivate it and get it cultivated, so long as he observes the condition of the grant.
The Dasavatara temple at Devagarh in Jhansi district, the temple at Bhitargaon, New Kanpur, Vishnu temple at Tigawa, Jabalpur district, Shiva temple at Bhumara, the Shiva temple at Koh containing a beautiful ekamukhi Shiva-linga, a beautiful Parvati temple at Nachnakunthare, a temple in a ruined state but of great artistic merit at Dahvarbatic on the banks of the Brahmaputra and two Buddhist shrines at Sanchi and Bodh Gaya are one of the few temple architectures.
The main cave structures of this period
Know The Important Facts
- Somadeva’s Kathasaritasagar gives the political history of the Satavahanas.
- During Pre-Gupta period Gandhara was famous for woollen clothes.
- The most popular and typical pottery of the Post-Maurya period is red ware.
- According to the Narada Smriti, Khila is a land which has not been cultivated for three years.
- Aprahata is defined as ‘unclaimed’ jungle land.
- From the Gupta inscriptions of Damadarpur, Baigrama and Pahadpur we know that Vasti land were donated for the purpose of construction of houses.
- Gapatha Sarah is pasture land.
- An officer named Pustapala maintained records of all land transactions in the district and the village.
- Nivi Dharma is land endowment in perpetuity.
- Bhumichchi dranyaya means rights of ownershias are acquired by a man making barren land cultivable for the first time and is free from liability to pay rent for it.
- In the Gupta period land survey is evident from the Poona Plates of Prabhavati Gupta.
- The Indore Grant of Skandagupta in Central India authorises the grantee to enjoy the land, cultivate it and get it cultivated, so long as he observes the condition of the grant.
mainly concentrated in Maharashtra and Andhra states.
Some of the chaitya and vihar caves at Ajanta and those of Ellora strike a new line in art by the great beauty of their pillars of varied designs and fine paintings.
The caves at Mogulrajapuram, Undavilli and Akhannamadana in the south, and the Brahmanical cave temple at Udayagiri near Vidisa also belong to the Gupta age.
The terra-cotta figures may be classified under three heads: (i) gods and Goddesses (i) male and female figures and (iii) animal figurines and miscellaneous objects.
- The conception of the Gupta plastic art seems to have had its birth at Mathura.
- In the images of the Buddha and the Bodhisattva of this period at Mathura, the body has been fully brought under discipline. They had not yet experienced bliss, the jug and glow of weight-less existence.
- This Mathura tradition of sculpture is revealed in two remarkable three-eyed Shivaite heads which are in the Mathura museum and the other in the Colmann galleries, London.
- The art of painting reached its height of glory and splendour in the Gupta age.
- The most celebrated examples of Gupta painting are preserved in the wall frescoes of the Ajanta caves in Andhra State.
- The Bagh caves in Madhya Pradesh, the Sittanavasal temple in Tamil Nadu and in the rock-out chambers at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka.
- The Ajanta caves are situated in a long horse shoe shaped hill facing a deevalley.The caves are twenty-nine in number.
- Buddhist monks began the explorations in the third century B.C. and continued for nearly a thousand years.
- The caves have marvellous combination of architecture, sculpture and paintings.
- The best specimen of sculpture is the figure of Nagraj seated with his queen in Cave IX.
- Ajanta is most famous for its frescoes now surviving in six caves only.
- The subjects of these paintings are three fold:
(i) Dicorative designs like patterns, scrolls, flowers, trees, animals; mythological beings, like Yakshas, Gandharvas, Apsaras etc.
(ii) Portraits of the various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas both historical and legendary.
(iii) Narrative scenes mostly from Jatakas incidents and scenes from the life of Gautama Buddha were freely painted.
Bagh Caves Painting
- The paintings in the Bagh caves are ranked with those of Ajanta on account of their variety of design vigorous execution, decorative quality and secular nature.
- The result of intensity of participation in the joyous pageantry than the physical exhaustion on of a deespiritual experience.
- The paintings in Bagh caves are clearly secular, depicting contemporary life with its religious associations.
- All have been painted gracefully against the background of marvellously varied scenes.
- Though these paintings and their scenes pulsate with feelings of human life, yet they retain a spiritual quality, never degenerating into vouptuous productions.