NCERT Textbook: Indian Bronze Sculpture (Introduction to Indian Art) Notes | Study Must Read (Old & New) NCERTs for IAS Preparation - UPSC

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 Page 1


I
NDIAN sculptors had mastered the bronze medium and
the casting process as much as they had mastered
terracotta sculpture and carving in stone. The cire-perdu
or ‘lost-wax’ process for casting was learnt as long ago as
the Indus Valley Culture. Along with it was discovered the
process of making alloy of metals by mixing copper, zinc
and tin which is called bronze.
Bronze sculptures and statuettes of Buddhist, Hindu
and Jain icons have been discovered from many regions of
India dating from the second century until the sixteenth
century. Most of these were required for ritual worship
and are characterised by exquisite beauty and aesthetic
appeal. At the same time the metal-casting process
continued to be utilised for making articles for various
purposes of daily use, such as utensils for cooking, eating,
drinking, etc. Present-day tribal communities also utilise
the ‘lost-wax’ process for their art expressions.
Perhaps the ‘Dancing Girl’ in tribhanga posture from
Mohenjodaro is the earliest bronze sculpture datable to
2500 BCE. The limbs and torso of this female figurine are
simplified in tubular form. A similar group of bronze
statuettes have been discovered on archaeological
excavation at Daimabad (Maharashtra) datable to 1500
BCE. Significant is the ‘Chariot’, the wheels of which are
represented in simple circular shapes while the driver or
human rider has been elongated, and the bulls in the
forefront are modelled in sturdy forms.
Interesting images of Jain Tirthankaras have been
discovered from Chausa, Bihar, belonging to the Kushana
Period during second century CE. These bronzes show how
the Indian sculptors had mastered the modelling of
masculine human physique and simplified muscles.
Remarkable is the depiction of Adinath or Vrishabhnath,
who is identified with long hairlocks dropping to his
shoulders. Otherwise the tirthankaras are noted by their
short curly hair.
Many standing Buddha images with right hand in
abhaya mudra were cast in North India, particularly Uttar
INDIAN BRONZE
SCULPTURE
7
Kaliyadaman, Chola bronze,
Tamil Nadu
Page 2


I
NDIAN sculptors had mastered the bronze medium and
the casting process as much as they had mastered
terracotta sculpture and carving in stone. The cire-perdu
or ‘lost-wax’ process for casting was learnt as long ago as
the Indus Valley Culture. Along with it was discovered the
process of making alloy of metals by mixing copper, zinc
and tin which is called bronze.
Bronze sculptures and statuettes of Buddhist, Hindu
and Jain icons have been discovered from many regions of
India dating from the second century until the sixteenth
century. Most of these were required for ritual worship
and are characterised by exquisite beauty and aesthetic
appeal. At the same time the metal-casting process
continued to be utilised for making articles for various
purposes of daily use, such as utensils for cooking, eating,
drinking, etc. Present-day tribal communities also utilise
the ‘lost-wax’ process for their art expressions.
Perhaps the ‘Dancing Girl’ in tribhanga posture from
Mohenjodaro is the earliest bronze sculpture datable to
2500 BCE. The limbs and torso of this female figurine are
simplified in tubular form. A similar group of bronze
statuettes have been discovered on archaeological
excavation at Daimabad (Maharashtra) datable to 1500
BCE. Significant is the ‘Chariot’, the wheels of which are
represented in simple circular shapes while the driver or
human rider has been elongated, and the bulls in the
forefront are modelled in sturdy forms.
Interesting images of Jain Tirthankaras have been
discovered from Chausa, Bihar, belonging to the Kushana
Period during second century CE. These bronzes show how
the Indian sculptors had mastered the modelling of
masculine human physique and simplified muscles.
Remarkable is the depiction of Adinath or Vrishabhnath,
who is identified with long hairlocks dropping to his
shoulders. Otherwise the tirthankaras are noted by their
short curly hair.
Many standing Buddha images with right hand in
abhaya mudra were cast in North India, particularly Uttar
INDIAN BRONZE
SCULPTURE
7
Kaliyadaman, Chola bronze,
Tamil Nadu
AN INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN ART 104
Pradesh and Bihar, during the Gupta and Post-Gupta
periods, i.e., between the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries.
The sanghati or the monk’s robe is wrapped to cover the
shoulders which turns over the right arm, while the other
end of the drapery is wrapped over the left arm. Eventually
the pleats are held by the extended hand of the same arm.
The drapery falls and spreads into a wide curve at the
level of the ankles. The Buddha’s figure is modelled in a
subtle manner suggesting, at the same time, the thin
quality of the cloth. The whole figure is treated with
refinement; there is a certain delicacy in the treatment of
the torso. The figure appears youthful and proportionate
in comparison with the Kushana style. In the typical bronze
from Dhanesar Khera, Uttar Pradesh, the folds of the
drapery are treated as in the Mathura style, i.e., in a series
of drooping down curves. Sarnath-style bronzes have
foldless drapery. The outstanding example is that of the
Buddha image at Sultanganj, Bihar, which is quite a
monumental bronze figure. The typical refined style of
these bronzes is the hallmark of the classical quality.
Vakataka bronze images of the Buddha from Phophnar,
Maharashtra, are contemporary with the Gupta period
bronzes. They show the influence of the Amaravati style of
Andhra Pradesh in the third century CE and at the same
time there is a significant change in the draping style of
the monk’s robe. Buddha’s right hand in abhaya mudra is
free so that the drapery clings to the right side of the body
Ganesh, seventh  century CE,
Kashmir
Shiva Family, tenth century CE,
Bihar
Page 3


I
NDIAN sculptors had mastered the bronze medium and
the casting process as much as they had mastered
terracotta sculpture and carving in stone. The cire-perdu
or ‘lost-wax’ process for casting was learnt as long ago as
the Indus Valley Culture. Along with it was discovered the
process of making alloy of metals by mixing copper, zinc
and tin which is called bronze.
Bronze sculptures and statuettes of Buddhist, Hindu
and Jain icons have been discovered from many regions of
India dating from the second century until the sixteenth
century. Most of these were required for ritual worship
and are characterised by exquisite beauty and aesthetic
appeal. At the same time the metal-casting process
continued to be utilised for making articles for various
purposes of daily use, such as utensils for cooking, eating,
drinking, etc. Present-day tribal communities also utilise
the ‘lost-wax’ process for their art expressions.
Perhaps the ‘Dancing Girl’ in tribhanga posture from
Mohenjodaro is the earliest bronze sculpture datable to
2500 BCE. The limbs and torso of this female figurine are
simplified in tubular form. A similar group of bronze
statuettes have been discovered on archaeological
excavation at Daimabad (Maharashtra) datable to 1500
BCE. Significant is the ‘Chariot’, the wheels of which are
represented in simple circular shapes while the driver or
human rider has been elongated, and the bulls in the
forefront are modelled in sturdy forms.
Interesting images of Jain Tirthankaras have been
discovered from Chausa, Bihar, belonging to the Kushana
Period during second century CE. These bronzes show how
the Indian sculptors had mastered the modelling of
masculine human physique and simplified muscles.
Remarkable is the depiction of Adinath or Vrishabhnath,
who is identified with long hairlocks dropping to his
shoulders. Otherwise the tirthankaras are noted by their
short curly hair.
Many standing Buddha images with right hand in
abhaya mudra were cast in North India, particularly Uttar
INDIAN BRONZE
SCULPTURE
7
Kaliyadaman, Chola bronze,
Tamil Nadu
AN INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN ART 104
Pradesh and Bihar, during the Gupta and Post-Gupta
periods, i.e., between the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries.
The sanghati or the monk’s robe is wrapped to cover the
shoulders which turns over the right arm, while the other
end of the drapery is wrapped over the left arm. Eventually
the pleats are held by the extended hand of the same arm.
The drapery falls and spreads into a wide curve at the
level of the ankles. The Buddha’s figure is modelled in a
subtle manner suggesting, at the same time, the thin
quality of the cloth. The whole figure is treated with
refinement; there is a certain delicacy in the treatment of
the torso. The figure appears youthful and proportionate
in comparison with the Kushana style. In the typical bronze
from Dhanesar Khera, Uttar Pradesh, the folds of the
drapery are treated as in the Mathura style, i.e., in a series
of drooping down curves. Sarnath-style bronzes have
foldless drapery. The outstanding example is that of the
Buddha image at Sultanganj, Bihar, which is quite a
monumental bronze figure. The typical refined style of
these bronzes is the hallmark of the classical quality.
Vakataka bronze images of the Buddha from Phophnar,
Maharashtra, are contemporary with the Gupta period
bronzes. They show the influence of the Amaravati style of
Andhra Pradesh in the third century CE and at the same
time there is a significant change in the draping style of
the monk’s robe. Buddha’s right hand in abhaya mudra is
free so that the drapery clings to the right side of the body
Ganesh, seventh  century CE,
Kashmir
Shiva Family, tenth century CE,
Bihar
INDIAN BRONZE SCULPTURE 105
contour. The result is a continuous flowing line on this
side of the figure. At the level of the ankles of the Buddha
figure the drapery makes a conspicuous curvilinear turn,
as it is held by the left hand.
The additional importance of the Gupta and Vakataka
bronzes is that they were portable and monks carried them
from place to place for the purpose of individual worship
or to be installed in Buddhist viharas. In this manner the
refined classical style spread to different parts of India
and to Asian countries overseas. The hoard of bronzes
discovered in Akota near Vadodara established that bronze
casting was practised in Gujarat or western India between
the sixth and ninth centuries. Most of the images represent
the Jaina tirthankaras like Mahavira, Parshvanath or
Adinath. A new format was invented in which tirthankaras
are seated on a throne; they can be single or combined in
a group of three or in a group of twenty-four tirthankaras.
Female images were also cast representing yakshinis or
The Lost-wax Process
The lost-wax process is a technique used for making objects of
metal, especially in Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Madhya
Pradesh and West Bengal. In each region, a slightly different
technique is used.
The lost-wax process involves several different steps. First a
wax model of the image is made by hand of pure beeswax that
has first been melted over an open fire, and then strained through
a fine cloth into a basin of cold water. Here it resolidifies
immediately. It is then pressed through a pichki or pharni —
which squeezes the wax into noodle-like shape. These wax wires
are then wound around to the shape of the entire image.
The image is now covered with a thick coating of paste, made
of equal parts of clay, sand and cow-dung. Into an opening on
one side, a clay pot is fixed. In this molten metal is poured. The
weight of the metal to be used is ten times that of wax. (The wax
is weighed before starting the entire process.) This metal is
largely scrap metal from broken pots and pans. While the
molten metal is poured in the clay pot, the clay-plastered
model is exposed to firing. As the wax inside melts, the metal
flows down the channel and takes on the shape of the wax
image. The firing process is carried out almost like a religious
ritual and all the steps take place in dead silence. The image
is later chiselled with files to smoothen it and give it a finish.
Casting a bronze image is a painstaking task and demands
a high degree of skill. Sometimes an alloy of five metals —
gold, silver, copper, brass and lead — is used to cast bronze
images.
Devi, Chola bronze,
Tamil Nadu
Page 4


I
NDIAN sculptors had mastered the bronze medium and
the casting process as much as they had mastered
terracotta sculpture and carving in stone. The cire-perdu
or ‘lost-wax’ process for casting was learnt as long ago as
the Indus Valley Culture. Along with it was discovered the
process of making alloy of metals by mixing copper, zinc
and tin which is called bronze.
Bronze sculptures and statuettes of Buddhist, Hindu
and Jain icons have been discovered from many regions of
India dating from the second century until the sixteenth
century. Most of these were required for ritual worship
and are characterised by exquisite beauty and aesthetic
appeal. At the same time the metal-casting process
continued to be utilised for making articles for various
purposes of daily use, such as utensils for cooking, eating,
drinking, etc. Present-day tribal communities also utilise
the ‘lost-wax’ process for their art expressions.
Perhaps the ‘Dancing Girl’ in tribhanga posture from
Mohenjodaro is the earliest bronze sculpture datable to
2500 BCE. The limbs and torso of this female figurine are
simplified in tubular form. A similar group of bronze
statuettes have been discovered on archaeological
excavation at Daimabad (Maharashtra) datable to 1500
BCE. Significant is the ‘Chariot’, the wheels of which are
represented in simple circular shapes while the driver or
human rider has been elongated, and the bulls in the
forefront are modelled in sturdy forms.
Interesting images of Jain Tirthankaras have been
discovered from Chausa, Bihar, belonging to the Kushana
Period during second century CE. These bronzes show how
the Indian sculptors had mastered the modelling of
masculine human physique and simplified muscles.
Remarkable is the depiction of Adinath or Vrishabhnath,
who is identified with long hairlocks dropping to his
shoulders. Otherwise the tirthankaras are noted by their
short curly hair.
Many standing Buddha images with right hand in
abhaya mudra were cast in North India, particularly Uttar
INDIAN BRONZE
SCULPTURE
7
Kaliyadaman, Chola bronze,
Tamil Nadu
AN INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN ART 104
Pradesh and Bihar, during the Gupta and Post-Gupta
periods, i.e., between the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries.
The sanghati or the monk’s robe is wrapped to cover the
shoulders which turns over the right arm, while the other
end of the drapery is wrapped over the left arm. Eventually
the pleats are held by the extended hand of the same arm.
The drapery falls and spreads into a wide curve at the
level of the ankles. The Buddha’s figure is modelled in a
subtle manner suggesting, at the same time, the thin
quality of the cloth. The whole figure is treated with
refinement; there is a certain delicacy in the treatment of
the torso. The figure appears youthful and proportionate
in comparison with the Kushana style. In the typical bronze
from Dhanesar Khera, Uttar Pradesh, the folds of the
drapery are treated as in the Mathura style, i.e., in a series
of drooping down curves. Sarnath-style bronzes have
foldless drapery. The outstanding example is that of the
Buddha image at Sultanganj, Bihar, which is quite a
monumental bronze figure. The typical refined style of
these bronzes is the hallmark of the classical quality.
Vakataka bronze images of the Buddha from Phophnar,
Maharashtra, are contemporary with the Gupta period
bronzes. They show the influence of the Amaravati style of
Andhra Pradesh in the third century CE and at the same
time there is a significant change in the draping style of
the monk’s robe. Buddha’s right hand in abhaya mudra is
free so that the drapery clings to the right side of the body
Ganesh, seventh  century CE,
Kashmir
Shiva Family, tenth century CE,
Bihar
INDIAN BRONZE SCULPTURE 105
contour. The result is a continuous flowing line on this
side of the figure. At the level of the ankles of the Buddha
figure the drapery makes a conspicuous curvilinear turn,
as it is held by the left hand.
The additional importance of the Gupta and Vakataka
bronzes is that they were portable and monks carried them
from place to place for the purpose of individual worship
or to be installed in Buddhist viharas. In this manner the
refined classical style spread to different parts of India
and to Asian countries overseas. The hoard of bronzes
discovered in Akota near Vadodara established that bronze
casting was practised in Gujarat or western India between
the sixth and ninth centuries. Most of the images represent
the Jaina tirthankaras like Mahavira, Parshvanath or
Adinath. A new format was invented in which tirthankaras
are seated on a throne; they can be single or combined in
a group of three or in a group of twenty-four tirthankaras.
Female images were also cast representing yakshinis or
The Lost-wax Process
The lost-wax process is a technique used for making objects of
metal, especially in Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Madhya
Pradesh and West Bengal. In each region, a slightly different
technique is used.
The lost-wax process involves several different steps. First a
wax model of the image is made by hand of pure beeswax that
has first been melted over an open fire, and then strained through
a fine cloth into a basin of cold water. Here it resolidifies
immediately. It is then pressed through a pichki or pharni —
which squeezes the wax into noodle-like shape. These wax wires
are then wound around to the shape of the entire image.
The image is now covered with a thick coating of paste, made
of equal parts of clay, sand and cow-dung. Into an opening on
one side, a clay pot is fixed. In this molten metal is poured. The
weight of the metal to be used is ten times that of wax. (The wax
is weighed before starting the entire process.) This metal is
largely scrap metal from broken pots and pans. While the
molten metal is poured in the clay pot, the clay-plastered
model is exposed to firing. As the wax inside melts, the metal
flows down the channel and takes on the shape of the wax
image. The firing process is carried out almost like a religious
ritual and all the steps take place in dead silence. The image
is later chiselled with files to smoothen it and give it a finish.
Casting a bronze image is a painstaking task and demands
a high degree of skill. Sometimes an alloy of five metals —
gold, silver, copper, brass and lead — is used to cast bronze
images.
Devi, Chola bronze,
Tamil Nadu
AN INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN ART 106
Shasanadevis of some prominent tirthankaras.
Stylistically they were influenced by the features
of both the Gupta and the Vakataka period
bronzes. Chakreshvari is the Shasanadevi of
Adinath and Ambika is of Neminath.
Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir regions also
produced bronze images of Buddhist deities as well
as Hindu gods and goddesses. Most of these were
created during the eighth, ninth and tenth
centuries and have a very distinct style in
comparison with bronzes from other parts of India.
A noteworthy development is the growth of different
types of iconography of Vishnu images. Four-headed
Vishnu, also known as  Chaturanana or Vaikuntha
Vishnu, was worshipped in these regions. While
the central face represents Vasudeva, the other two
faces are that of Narasimha and Varaha. The
Narasimha avatar and Mahishasuramardini Durga
images of Himachal Pradesh are among the very
dynamic bronzes from that region.
In Buddhist centres like Nalanda, a school of
bronze-casting emerged around the ninth century
during the rule of the Pala Dynasty in Bihar and
Bengal regions. In the gap of a few centuries the sculptors
at Kurkihar near Nalanda were able to revive the classical
style of the Gupta period. A remarkable bronze is of a four-
Ganesh, Kashmir ,
seventh  century CE
Bronze sculpture,
Himachal Pradesh
Page 5


I
NDIAN sculptors had mastered the bronze medium and
the casting process as much as they had mastered
terracotta sculpture and carving in stone. The cire-perdu
or ‘lost-wax’ process for casting was learnt as long ago as
the Indus Valley Culture. Along with it was discovered the
process of making alloy of metals by mixing copper, zinc
and tin which is called bronze.
Bronze sculptures and statuettes of Buddhist, Hindu
and Jain icons have been discovered from many regions of
India dating from the second century until the sixteenth
century. Most of these were required for ritual worship
and are characterised by exquisite beauty and aesthetic
appeal. At the same time the metal-casting process
continued to be utilised for making articles for various
purposes of daily use, such as utensils for cooking, eating,
drinking, etc. Present-day tribal communities also utilise
the ‘lost-wax’ process for their art expressions.
Perhaps the ‘Dancing Girl’ in tribhanga posture from
Mohenjodaro is the earliest bronze sculpture datable to
2500 BCE. The limbs and torso of this female figurine are
simplified in tubular form. A similar group of bronze
statuettes have been discovered on archaeological
excavation at Daimabad (Maharashtra) datable to 1500
BCE. Significant is the ‘Chariot’, the wheels of which are
represented in simple circular shapes while the driver or
human rider has been elongated, and the bulls in the
forefront are modelled in sturdy forms.
Interesting images of Jain Tirthankaras have been
discovered from Chausa, Bihar, belonging to the Kushana
Period during second century CE. These bronzes show how
the Indian sculptors had mastered the modelling of
masculine human physique and simplified muscles.
Remarkable is the depiction of Adinath or Vrishabhnath,
who is identified with long hairlocks dropping to his
shoulders. Otherwise the tirthankaras are noted by their
short curly hair.
Many standing Buddha images with right hand in
abhaya mudra were cast in North India, particularly Uttar
INDIAN BRONZE
SCULPTURE
7
Kaliyadaman, Chola bronze,
Tamil Nadu
AN INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN ART 104
Pradesh and Bihar, during the Gupta and Post-Gupta
periods, i.e., between the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries.
The sanghati or the monk’s robe is wrapped to cover the
shoulders which turns over the right arm, while the other
end of the drapery is wrapped over the left arm. Eventually
the pleats are held by the extended hand of the same arm.
The drapery falls and spreads into a wide curve at the
level of the ankles. The Buddha’s figure is modelled in a
subtle manner suggesting, at the same time, the thin
quality of the cloth. The whole figure is treated with
refinement; there is a certain delicacy in the treatment of
the torso. The figure appears youthful and proportionate
in comparison with the Kushana style. In the typical bronze
from Dhanesar Khera, Uttar Pradesh, the folds of the
drapery are treated as in the Mathura style, i.e., in a series
of drooping down curves. Sarnath-style bronzes have
foldless drapery. The outstanding example is that of the
Buddha image at Sultanganj, Bihar, which is quite a
monumental bronze figure. The typical refined style of
these bronzes is the hallmark of the classical quality.
Vakataka bronze images of the Buddha from Phophnar,
Maharashtra, are contemporary with the Gupta period
bronzes. They show the influence of the Amaravati style of
Andhra Pradesh in the third century CE and at the same
time there is a significant change in the draping style of
the monk’s robe. Buddha’s right hand in abhaya mudra is
free so that the drapery clings to the right side of the body
Ganesh, seventh  century CE,
Kashmir
Shiva Family, tenth century CE,
Bihar
INDIAN BRONZE SCULPTURE 105
contour. The result is a continuous flowing line on this
side of the figure. At the level of the ankles of the Buddha
figure the drapery makes a conspicuous curvilinear turn,
as it is held by the left hand.
The additional importance of the Gupta and Vakataka
bronzes is that they were portable and monks carried them
from place to place for the purpose of individual worship
or to be installed in Buddhist viharas. In this manner the
refined classical style spread to different parts of India
and to Asian countries overseas. The hoard of bronzes
discovered in Akota near Vadodara established that bronze
casting was practised in Gujarat or western India between
the sixth and ninth centuries. Most of the images represent
the Jaina tirthankaras like Mahavira, Parshvanath or
Adinath. A new format was invented in which tirthankaras
are seated on a throne; they can be single or combined in
a group of three or in a group of twenty-four tirthankaras.
Female images were also cast representing yakshinis or
The Lost-wax Process
The lost-wax process is a technique used for making objects of
metal, especially in Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Madhya
Pradesh and West Bengal. In each region, a slightly different
technique is used.
The lost-wax process involves several different steps. First a
wax model of the image is made by hand of pure beeswax that
has first been melted over an open fire, and then strained through
a fine cloth into a basin of cold water. Here it resolidifies
immediately. It is then pressed through a pichki or pharni —
which squeezes the wax into noodle-like shape. These wax wires
are then wound around to the shape of the entire image.
The image is now covered with a thick coating of paste, made
of equal parts of clay, sand and cow-dung. Into an opening on
one side, a clay pot is fixed. In this molten metal is poured. The
weight of the metal to be used is ten times that of wax. (The wax
is weighed before starting the entire process.) This metal is
largely scrap metal from broken pots and pans. While the
molten metal is poured in the clay pot, the clay-plastered
model is exposed to firing. As the wax inside melts, the metal
flows down the channel and takes on the shape of the wax
image. The firing process is carried out almost like a religious
ritual and all the steps take place in dead silence. The image
is later chiselled with files to smoothen it and give it a finish.
Casting a bronze image is a painstaking task and demands
a high degree of skill. Sometimes an alloy of five metals —
gold, silver, copper, brass and lead — is used to cast bronze
images.
Devi, Chola bronze,
Tamil Nadu
AN INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN ART 106
Shasanadevis of some prominent tirthankaras.
Stylistically they were influenced by the features
of both the Gupta and the Vakataka period
bronzes. Chakreshvari is the Shasanadevi of
Adinath and Ambika is of Neminath.
Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir regions also
produced bronze images of Buddhist deities as well
as Hindu gods and goddesses. Most of these were
created during the eighth, ninth and tenth
centuries and have a very distinct style in
comparison with bronzes from other parts of India.
A noteworthy development is the growth of different
types of iconography of Vishnu images. Four-headed
Vishnu, also known as  Chaturanana or Vaikuntha
Vishnu, was worshipped in these regions. While
the central face represents Vasudeva, the other two
faces are that of Narasimha and Varaha. The
Narasimha avatar and Mahishasuramardini Durga
images of Himachal Pradesh are among the very
dynamic bronzes from that region.
In Buddhist centres like Nalanda, a school of
bronze-casting emerged around the ninth century
during the rule of the Pala Dynasty in Bihar and
Bengal regions. In the gap of a few centuries the sculptors
at Kurkihar near Nalanda were able to revive the classical
style of the Gupta period. A remarkable bronze is of a four-
Ganesh, Kashmir ,
seventh  century CE
Bronze sculpture,
Himachal Pradesh
INDIAN BRONZE SCULPTURE 107
armed Avalokitesvara, which is a good example of a male
figure in graceful tribhanga posture. Worship of female
goddesses was adopted which is part of the growth of the
Vajrayana phase in Buddhism. Images of Tara became very
popular. Seated on a throne, she is accompanied by a growing
curvilinear lotus stalk and her right hand is in the abhaya
mudra.
The bronze casting technique and making of bronze
images of traditional icons reached a high stage of
development in South India during the medieval period.
Although bronze images were modelled and cast during
the Pallava Period in the eighth and ninth centuries, some
of the most beautiful and exquisite statues were produced
during the Chola Period in Tamil Nadu from the tenth to
the twelfth century. The technique and art of fashioning
bronze images is still skillfully practised in South India,
particularly in Kumbakonam. The distinguished patron
during the tenth century was the widowed Chola queen,
Sembiyan Maha Devi. Chola bronzes are the most sought-
after collectors’ items by art lovers all over the world.
Among the Pallava Period bronzes of the eighth century
is the icon of Shiva seated in ardhaparyanka asana (one
leg kept dangling). The right hand is in the achamana
mudra gesture, suggesting that he is about to drink poison.
Shiva is associated with the end of the cosmic
world with which this dancing position is
associated.
In this Chola period bronze sculpture he
has been shown balancing himself on his right
leg and suppressing the apasmara, the demon
of ignorance or forgetfulness, with the foot of
the same leg. At the same time he raises his
left leg in bhujangatrasita stance, which
represents tirobhava, that is kicking away the
veil of maya or illusion from the devotee’s mind.
His four arms are outstretched and the main
right hand is posed in abhaya hasta or the
gesture suggesting. The upper right holds the
damaru his favourite musical instrument to
keep on the beat tala. The upper left hand
carries a flame while the main left hand is held
in dola hasta and connects with the abhaya
hasta of the right hand. His hair locks fly on
both the sides touching the circular jvala mala
or the garland of flames which surrounds the
entire dancing figuration.
Nataraja
Nataraja, Chola period, twelfth
century CE
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