Crafts, Arts and Architecture in Mauryan Empire

Crafts, Arts and Architecture in Mauryan Empire

Crafts and Industries
Crafts and Industries

Crafts, Arts and Architecture in Mauryan Empire

Crafts and Industries

Cotton fabrics were made at Madhura, Aparanta, Kalinga, Kashi, Vanga, vatsa and Mahisa. Vanga (East Bengal), Pundra (West Bengal) and Suvernakudya (in Assam) was famous for white and soft textile. Dukula, Kashi and Pundra were noted for linen fabrics. Kshauma and Magadha, a fabric made foe trees. Guilds had to employ hired labour and it consisted of two categories, the karmakaras or the bhritakas, who were regarded as free labourers working for a regular wage and the dasas, who were salves.

Metallurgy, pottery, wood work and stone cutting were other prominent crafts and industry prevalent during the Mauryan period.


The Punch Marked silver coins, which carried the crescent, the symbols of the peacock and the hill called Pana, formed the imperial currency of the Mauryan. Copper punch marked coins were pieced copper masika was the token currency and quarter piece of masika was called Kakini. Kautilya refers the state officers incharge of coinage, the Suvarnadhyaksa, the Lakshnadhyaksa and the Supadarsaka.

 Arts and Architecture

The artistic remains of the Mauryan Period come under the following heads

Pillars and Sculpture: The Pillars were made of two types of Stone. Somewhere of the spotted red and vehili sand stone from the region of Malhitra and others of buff coloured fine grained Hayden grey.  They generally consisted of round and a monolithic safe tampering from the base. 

The best example is the Sarnath Pillar, the four lions standing back to back and the figure o four animals (lion, horse, elephant and bull) in relief on the abacus, the inverted lotus and the scared Dharma Chakra (24 spokes) , all indicating a highly advanced form of art.

See also  Development and Features of Kamakari art

Stupas: The main purpose of building stupas was to enshrine some relics of Buddha or some great Buddhist monk. The best example of the stupa is the stupa at Sanchi. 


The Caves primarily served as residence of monks and assembly halls. Caves in Barabara hills are the finest examples. Lomas, Rishi and Sudama caves were donated by Ashoka to Ajivikas.

The Caves primarily served as residence of monks and assembly halls.

Palaces Excavations have revealed a Royal palace in ruined condition near Kemrahar. 

Terracotta of Mauryan period consists of primitive idols or images, toys, dice, ornaments and beads etc. 

Folk Arts The examples include Yaksha of Parkham, Yakshini of Besnagar and Chamargrahini of Diarganj. These statues are made of stone.

Decline of the Mauryan Empire

  • The Decline was complete within half a century after the death of Ashoka. Though historians give various conflicting opinions on the decline of Mauryas, most of the historians agree on the following major causes
  • The Partition of Mauryan empire in two halves is supposed to be an immediate cause for the decline of the Mauryan empire.
  • Late Mauryan rulers were considered to be weak. The weakness of these rulers could be imagined from the fact that six rulers could rule only for 52 years, over the Eastern part of the Empire and the last Mauryan King was assassinated by his own commander in chief Pushyamitra Sunga.
  • Asoka’s pacifist policies were held to be undermining the strength of the empire. Though Ashoka never demobilized the Mauryan army, he gave up his imperialist policy.
  • Strained Mauryan Economy is also held as the major cause of the decline.  This view is based on the increase of taxes and debasement of later Mauryan punch-marked coins. But contrary to this, the foreign accounts and the material remains of the period present the pictures of a flourishing economy.
  • The Mauryan empire was highly centralized. The weakening of the central control under the later Mauryan led automatically to the weakening of administration.      
See also  Forms of Traditional Theatre in India

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