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Indian Architecture Through the Ages

 

THE SCHOOLS OF ART

Gandhara School of Art (50 B.C. to 500 A.D.): The Gadhara region extending from Punjab to the borders of Afghanistan was an important centre of Mahayana Buddhism up to the 5th century A.D. 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 Kushan. The origin of Gandhara art can be traced to the Greek rulers of Bactria and Northwest India. But it was during the reign of Kanishka that the art received great patronage.

The Gandhara School of Art is also known as the Graeco-Buddhist School of Art since Greek techniques of Art were applied to 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 modelled on identical characters 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 3-4 century AD.

Mathura School of Art: The Mathura School of art flourished at the holy city of Mathura, especially between 1-3 A.D. ItMathura Style established the tradition of transforming Buddhist symbols into human form. Buddha’s first image can be traced to Kanishka’s reign (about 78 A.D.). The earliest sculptures of Buddha were made keeping theMathura 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 Kushan influence. The seated figures are in the padmasana posture. The Mathura School not only produced beautiful images of the Buddha but also of the Jain 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.

Amravati School of Art: This school of art developed at Amravati, on the banks Amravati Architecture of the Krishna River in Amravati Architecturemodern Andhra Pradesh. It is the site for the largest Buddhist stupa of South India. Its construction began in 200 B.C. and was completed in 200 A.D. The diameter of the stupa at the base was 51 metres. The height of the dome was 31 metres and its outer railing was 5 metres wide. The stupendous stupa could not withstand the ravages of time and its ruins are preserved in the London Museum.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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