Post-Mauryan Art, Sunga and Kanva Art, Satavahana Art, Amaravati Art, kushana Art, Gandhara School of Art, Mathura School of Art
During the rule of the Kanva and the Sunga dynasty, a plenty of cave-temples, chaityas and stupas were built. The stupas of Bharhut, Bodhgaya and Sanchi and the amazing cave art of Udaygiri and Khandagiri remind us of the heights reached in sculpture. Human figures, dakshas-yakshas, figures of birds and beasts, plants and creeper were made in wonderfully intricate patterns.
Fine examples of architecture and sculpture of the Satavahana period constitute the Karle cave- chaitya, Buddhist caves in Nasik, Kalyan and elsewhere and the stupas of Amaravati.
In Amaravati, situated in the eastern Deccan, a different type of art form evolved and flourished for nearby six centuries commencing from the 200-100 BC. Patronised first by the Satvahanas and later by the Ikshvahus and also by other groups (feudatories, officials and merchants), four period of activity of activity are easily discernible.
The stupas at Amaravati were made of a distinctive white green marble and probably began about the time of the Christ and received its final carved faces and railings from about AD 150 to AD 200. The diameter of the stupa at the base was 51m. The height of the dome was 31m and its outer railing was 5 meters wide. The Stupendous stupa could not withstand the ravages of time and its ruins are preserved in the London museum. Amaravati also had a great influence over South Indian sculpture. Its sculpture shows its mastery in stone sculpture.
The monuments at Jaggayyapeta, Nagarjunakonda and Amaravati are examples. The Andhra sculpture is also known as the Amaravati School. Other pieces of art from the Amaravati School include the ornate bull or the Nandiswara that was situated in the Amaravati temple.
The period of the Kushana Empire marked a progress in architecture, sculpture and painting. Kanishka was a pattern of art, as is evident by the cities of Mathura, Taxila and Peshawar and the innumerable stupas, chaityas and viharas built during his reign. Kanishka erected a multi chaitya and monastery on the mortal remains of the Buddha at his capital, Purushpur or Peshwar.
Four specific schools of art flourished in Mathura, Sarnath, Amaravati and Gandhara during his rule. The Gandhara art, a blend of Greek, Roman and Indian art forms, reached its pinnacle of success during this period. The renaissance that took off with Kanishka flowered in the Gupta period.
Gandhara School of Art (50 BC to AD 500)
The region extending from Punjab to the borders of Afghanistan known as the Gandhara region was an important centre of Mahayana Buddhism upto the AD 5th century. The region became famous throughout the world since a new school of Indian sculpture known as the Gandhara School developed during that period.
Owing to its strategic location, the Gandhara School imbibed all kinds of foreign influences like Persian, Greek, Roman, Saka and Kushana. The origin of the Gandhara art can be traced to the Greek, Roman, Saka and Kushana. The origin of the Gandhara art can be traced to the Greek rulers of Bactria and North-west India. But it was during the region of Kanishka that the art received great patronage.
Main Features of the School
The Gandhara School of Art is also known as the Graeco-Buddhist school of Art since, Great techniques of Art were applied to the Buddhist subjects. The most important contribution of the Gandhara school of Art was the evolution of beautiful images of the Buddha and Bodhisattavas, which were executed in black stone and modeled on identical character of Graeco-Roman pantheon. Hence it is said, “The Gandhara artist had the hand of a Greek, but the heart of an Indian.
The most characteristic trait of Gandhara sculpture is the depiction of Lord Buddha in the standing or seated positions. The seated Buddha is always shown cross-legged in the traditional Indian way. Another typical feature of the Gandhara Art is the rich carving, elaborate ornamentation and complex symbolism. The best specimens of Gandhara art are from Jaulian and Dharmarajika stupa at Taxila and from Hadda near Jalalabad in modern Afghanistan. The tallest rock-cut statue of Lord Buddha is also located at Bamiyan in modern Afghanistan and dates back to the AD 3rd-4th century.
Mathura School of Art
The Mathura school of Art flourished at the holy city of Mathura, especially between AD 1st-3rd.
Main Features of the School
It established the tradition of transforming the Buddhist symbols into the human form. Buddha’s first image can be traced to Kanishka’s reign (about AD 78). The earliest sculptures of Buddha were made keeping the Matura Style Yaksha prototype in mind. They were depicted as strongly built with the right hand raised in protection and the left hand on the waist.
The figures produced by this school of art do not have moustaches and beards as in the Gandhara Art. These figures can be seen in the Museum of Mathura. The standing Buddha figures resembles the yaksha figures and indicates the Kushana influence. The seated figures are in the padmasana posture. The Mathura School not only produced beautiful images of the Buddha, but also of the Jaina Tirthankaras and Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu pantheon.
Many Scholars believe that the Mathura School of Art, although of indigenous origin, was greatly influenced by the Gandhara School of Art. The Guptas adopted the Mathura school of Art and further improvised and perfected it.