Mauryan Art Contribute for Indian art and architecture
In the Mauryan period, stone culture dramatically emerged as the principal medium of the Indian artists. Some evidence is put forward by John Irwin that Ashokan columns may be the culmination of the ancient pre-Buddhist religious tradition in India of a cult of one cosmic pillar of axis mundi. With the Mauryan Empire, came a change in the art forms as well.
Earlier, wood was the chief material for most of the art forms, but it was changed to stone during the Maurya Empire. Even the present day National Emblem of India, the Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath belongs to the Maurya Empire.
It Stupas as are Buddhist religious monuments and were originally only a simple mound of mud or clay to cover the supposed relics of the Buddha basically funeral mounds- which were low and circular mounds ringed by the boulders.
Stupa construction was a Buddhist art, however even the Jainas also seemed to have built Stupas. After the passing away of the Buddha, his remains were cremated and the ashes divided and buried under eight Stupas with two further Stupas encasing the urn and the embers.
A railing surrounded this (called as Vedika). These railings were constructed of stone but resembled the look of the wooden railings of the past in design. The Buddha’s relics were placed in a casket chamber in the center of the dome.
At the base of dome, is a high circular terrace probably meant for parikrama or circumambulation and an encircling the Balustrade. At the ground level is a stone-paved procession path and another stone balustrade and two flights of steps leading to the circular terrace.
Access to the same is through four exquisitely carved gateways or Toranas in the North, South, East or West. The diameter of the stupa is 36.60 m and its height is 16.46 m.
It is built of large burnt bricks and mud mortar. It is presumed that the elaborately carved Toranas were built by the ivory or metal workers in the 1st century BC during the reign of King Satankarni of the Satavahana dynasty.
The last addition to the Stupa was made during the early AD 4th century in the Gupta period when four images of Buddha sitting in the dhyana Mudra or meditation were installed at the four entrances.
The Pillars built by Ashoka furnish the finest remains of the Mauryan art. The pillars with Ashoka edicts inscribed on them were placed either in sacred enclosures or in the vicinity of towns. The Pillars were made of two types of stone: The spotted Red and white sandstone from the region of Mathura and the Buff colored fine grained hard sandstone usually with small back spots quarried in Chunar near Banaras.
The Stone was transported from Mathura and Chunar t the various sites where the pillars have been found and here the Stone was cut and carried by craftsmen. Each pillar had three parts: The Prop under the Foundation, the Shaft or the Column and the Capital.
The Prop is buried in the ground. The Shaft made of a single piece of sand stone supports the capital made of another single piece of sandstone. The thin-round and slightly tapering shaft is highly polished and very Graceful in its proportions. The Capital, which is the third part of the Pillar, consists of some finally executed animal figures such as the lion or the elephant.
The architectural remains of the cave architecture ascribed to the Mauryan period are few. The Chaitya halls and the Stupa do not exist in their original form expect the excavated chaitya-halls, bearing inscription of Ashoka and Dasaratha, in the Barabar caves.
The monolithic rail at Sarnath in grey and polished Chunar sandstone has been erected under the patronage of the Emperor Ashoka himself. Its architectural form is similar to the rails of. The Bharhut stupa and must have been literally transferred into stone from contemporary wooden originals.
The plinth or the alambana, the horizontal bars and the coping have all been just carved out of what must have been a hug slab of stone. The alter or the bodhimanda suited at Bodhgaya is traditionally associated with Ashoka. The Bharhut altar consists of four pilasters. It is argued that one of the caves in the Barabar hills called the Sudama Cave, was dedicated by Ashoka to the Ajivika monks of the Ajivika sect.
It has rightly been said that Ashoka inaugurated a style of architecture which spread in different parts of the country and itself at its best in the magnificent masterpiece of Karla, Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta.
The ravage of the fabulous city of Pataliputra near modern Patna is extremely important for an understanding of the whole character of the Mauryan civilization which Ashoka inherited and perpetuated. The Palace walls, the splendid towers and pavilions, were all constructed of brick or backed clay that have long since crumbled to dust or been swept away by periodic deluge of the swollen waters of the Ganga.
Beyond the evidence of the Authentic excavations at Pataliputra, an idea of the appearance of the city can be perceived in the elevation of towns that form the backgrounds for the Buddhist subjects in the reliefs of the early Andhra Period at Sanchi. The excavations of Pataliputra revealed that there is a presence of moat which is surrounded by a palisade or railing of the type developed in the Vedic period to the uses of urban fortification it is assumed that all the super structures were built of wood.
The remains exposed in the actual palace area like a Great audience Hall was preceded by a number of huge platforms built of solid wood in log-cabin fashion. They formed a kind of artificial eminence, like the palace platforms of Ancient Mesopotamia and Iran. Undoubtedly, these wooden structures were projected as foundations for the support of some kind of pavilions in front of the palace itself.
In Addition to a ground plan of the Palace area, a single illustration of the remains of Patliputra is reproduced to demonstrate the extraordinary craftsmanship and durability of the city’s belt of fortifications. Pataliputra with its towers and gateways, rivaling the ancient capital of Iran, does give some slight suggestion, by its vast extent and the enormous strength of construction, of the great city of the Maurya Empire.