WHAT WILL YOU COVER HERE?
POST MAURYAN ARCHITECTURE
CHAITYA AND VIHARA
SCHOOLS OF SCULPTURES
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GANDHARA, MATHURA AND AMARAVATI SCHOOLS
GUPTA AGE ART & ARCHITECTURE
GUPTA TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE
EARLY MEDIEVAL INDIA–STYLES OF TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE
MAURYA TO POST MAURYA TRANSITION
The architectures in the form of rock-cut caves and stupas continued with each dynasty introducing some unique features of their own. Similarly, different schools of sculpture emerged and the art of sculpture reached its climax in the post-Mauryan period.
THE STUPA ART EXPOUNDING BUDDHIST IDEALS BY USING FOLK MOTIFS AND NARRATIVES.
Many of the relief carvings at the early Buddhist sites also drew from common cultural symbol and ornamentations that had nothing especially Buddhist about them. For instance, sculptures at Sanchi Stupa depicted yakshas, yakshis, nagas and nagis. They were appropriated as attendant deities of Buddha.
The early Buddhist art of Bharhut, Sanchi, Bodh-Gaya and Amaravati and other places hardly shows anthropomorphic representation of Buddha. So Stupa Art uses folk motifs and narratives to expound Buddhist ideals. One of the main interest of the Bharhut sculptures consists in the representation of the birth-stories of the Gautama Budha. These stories (or the Jatakas) are of two main classes, those relating to the previous births of Buddha as a Bodhisattva, and those of his last appearance as Gautama Shakyamuni when he attained Enlightenment of Buddhahood.
The scenes on the Bharhut sculptures, relating to the life of Gautama Shakyamuni include, among others, the dream of Maya (Illustrating the descent of a Bodhisattva in the form of an elephant into the mother’s womb), the defeat of Mara, Gautama’s Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, the worship of the Bodhi tree, the worship of Gautama’s hair-locks by celestial beings, the visits of king Ajatashatru of Magadha and of Prasenjit of Koshala, etc.
THE STUPA ARCHITECTURE EXPOUNDING BUDDHIST IDEALS
The main structure of the Stupa consisted of a flattened hemispherical cupola or dome, called an anda, placed atop a cylindrical base. Anda was a symbol of latent creative power and was also intended as an architectural replica of the infinite dome of heaven, representing the cycle of death and rebirth. Anda also sometimes called the Garbha or ‘womb’.
The harmika, located at the summit of the anda, symbolized the zenith beyond life and death (nirvana) and its resemblance to a sacrificial altar was of particular significance, for the attainment of nirvana required the sacrifice of the self and the world.
Rising from the harmika was the yasti or pole (that was imagined to run through the anda into the ground) which represented the axis-mundi (world axis) that connected heaven and earth.
Above the anda, the yasti serves as a support for tiers of chattras (umbrellas) that signify the supremacy of the whole structure. The three elements of the chattra at Sanchi represented the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, dhamma, and the sangha.
Keeping with the ancient tradition of enclosing a sacred tree with a fence, the chattra was enclosed by a railing or vedika. They served to demarcate the boundary of the sacred area with the material world.
The lowest vedika had four entrance gateways or toranas. The orientation of the toranas (east, south, west and north) corresponded with the direction of the sun’s course: to sunrise, zenith, sunset and nadir.
Hence, the early Buddhist Stupa art and architecture assimilated the secular, religious folk motifs and narratives and common cultural symbols of the past for expounding the Buddhist ideals.
POST MAURYAN ARCHITECTURE
The construction of rock caves continued as in the Mauryan period. However, this period saw the development of two types of rock caves – Chaitya and Vihara. While the Viharas were residential halls for the Buddhist and Jain monks and were developed during the time of the Mauryan Empire, the Chaitya halls were developed during this time. They were mainly quadrangular chambers with the roofs and used as prayer halls. The caves also had open courtyards and stone screen walls to shield from rain. They were also decorated with human and animal figures. Examples. Karle Chaitya hall, Ajanta caves (29 caves – 25 viharas and 4 chaityas) etc.
CHAITYA AND VIHARA
CHAITYAS AND THEIR FEATURES
Chaityas are the halls enclosing the stupas. The most important of these are the Karle Caves, Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, Aurangabad Caves and the Pandavleni Caves).The earliest rock-cut chaityas, similar to free-standing ones, consisted of an inner circular chamber with pillars to create a circular path around the stupa and an outer rectangular hall for the assembly of the devotees.
Over the course of time, the wall separating the stupa from the hall was removed to create semicircular hall with a veranda around the nave and the stupa. Fine sculptures adorn the walls. Figures of Buddha in various poses were cut out. There were a number of well-proportioned pillars, generally around 35, and a semi-circular roof. Opposite one entrance stood a stupa. All the pillars have capitals on them, with carvings of a kneeling elephant mounted on bell-shaped bases.
The pillars had three parts: prop, which is the base which is buried into the ground; the shaft, the main body of the pillar which is polished and chiselled; and capital, the head of the pillar where figures of animals are carved. The Stupa at the end of the Chaitya Hall has an umbrella at the top. This Umbrella suggests association with Buddhism. There is a wooden exterior made out of teak wood.
Viharas are the dwelling places donated to the normally wandering Buddhist monks. The earlier structures were made of wood & soon developed from the primitive thatched huts into large sangharamas. Pali texts indicate the structure of the viharas. In course of time the sangharamas developed into educational institutions & centres of Buddhist learning, such as those at Nalanda, Vikramasila, Somapura. Hinayana viharas are seen in Ajanta, Ellora & in the Orissan hills in the east coast and at Nasik, Bedsa, Kondane and Pitalkhora in the Western Ghats.
Stupas became larger and more decorative in the post Mauryan period. Stone was increasingly used in place of wood and brick. The Shunga dynasty introduced the idea of torans as beautifully decorated gateways to the stupas. The torans were intricately carved with figures and patterns and were evidence of Hellenistic influence. Example: Bharhut stupa in Uttar Pradesh, the toran of Sanchi stupa etc.
SCHOOLS OF SCULPTURES
Three prominent schools of sculpture developed in this period at three different regions of India centered at Gandhara, Mathura and Amaravati.
The Gandhara school of Art developed in the western frontiers of Punjab, near modern day Peshwar and Afghanistan, the Greek invaders brought with them the traditions of the Greek and Roman sculptors, which influenced the local traditions of the region. Thus, Gandhara School also came to be known as Greco-Indian School of Art. Gandhara arts have maintained multifold contacts with Rome and Greek. In its interpretation of Buddhist legends, the Gandhara school incorporated many motifs and techniques from Classical Roman art, including vine scrolls, cherubs bearing garlands, tritons, and centaurs. The basic iconography, however, remained Indian.
The Gandhara school drew upon the anthropomorphic traditions of Roman and Greek religion and represented the Buddha with a youthful Apollo-like face, dressed in garments resembling those seen on Roman imperial statues. Some of the special features found in this schools are- spiritual Buddha represents calmness; bearded Buddha, with mustache; wavy hair Buddha, with large forehead with Urna. The sculpture, under the Gandhara art was made in close resemblance to the Roman-Greeko images of Gods. Greek sculpture believed in mythological and idealist statues, while the Roman sculpture was more realistic. The Gandhara sculpture evolved as a hybrid of these characteristics.
The Mathura School flourished in the banks of the river Yamuna.The sculptures of the Mathura School were influenced by the stories and imageries of all three religions of the time – Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. The images were modelled on the earlier, Yaksha images found during the Mauryan period. The Mathura School showed a striking use of symbolism in the images. The Hindu Gods were represented using their ayudhas. For example, Shiva is shown through image and mukhalinga. Similarly, the halo around the head of the Buddha in larger than in Gandhara school and decorated with geometrical patterns. Buddha is shown to be surrounded by two Bodhisattavas – Padmapani holding a lotus and Vajrapani holding a thunderbolt.
In the southern parts of India, the Amaravati School developed on the banks of Krishna river, under the patronage of the Satvahana rulers. While the other two schools focused on single images. Amaravati School put more emphasis on the use of dynamic images or narrative art. The sculptures of this school made excessive use of the Tribhanga posture, i.e., the body with three bends. The stupas at Amaravati were made of a distinctive white green marble. One of the greatest feature is, it shows the Buddha in Human form. Certain modulation of the flowing sculptural volume and illusion of life, both hallmarks of the late Amaravati school. All the railings of the Amaravati stupa are made out of marble while the dome itself is covered with slabs of the same material.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GANDHARA, MATHURA AND AMARAVATI SCHOOLS.
|BASIS||GANDHARA SCHOOL||MATHURA SCHOOL||AMARAVATI SCHOOL|
|External influence||Heavy influence of Greek or Hellenistic sculpture, so it is also known as Indo-Greek art.||It was developed indigenously and not initially influenced by external cultures||It was developed indigenously and not initially influenced by external cultures.|
|Material used||Early Gandhara School used bluish-grey sandstone while the latter period saw the use of mud and stucco||The sculptures of Mathura School were made using spotted red sandstone||The sculptures of Amaravati School were made using white marbles.|
|Religious influence||Mainly Buddhist imagery, influenced by the Greco-Roman pantheon.||Influence of all three religions of the time, i.e. Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.||Mainly Buddhist influence.|
|patronage||Patronized by Kushana rulers||Patronized by Kushana rulers||Patronized by Satvahana rulers.|
|Area of development||Developed in the North West Frontier, in the modern day area of Kandahar||Developed in and around Mathura, Sonkh and Kankalitila Kankalitila was famous for Jain sculptures.||Developed in the Krishna – Godavari lower valley, in and around Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda|
|Features of Buddha sculpture||The Buddha is shown in a spiritual state, with wavy hair. He wears fewer ornaments and seated in the position of a yogi. The eyes are half-closed as in meditation.||Buddha is shown in delighted mood with a smiling face. The face and head are shaven. Buddha is seated in padmasana with different mudras and his face reflects grace.||Since the sculptures are generally part of a narrative art, there is less emphasis on the individual features of Buddha. The sculptures generally depict life stories of Buddha and the Jataka tales, i.e., previous lives of Buddha in both human and animal form.|
The emergence of the Gupta Empire in 4th century A.D is often hailed as the “Golden period of Indian Architecture”. While the earlier Gupta rulers were Buddhists and continued the traditions of Buddhist architecture, temple architecture came to the fore front under the patronage of the Hindu rulers of the later Gupta phase. Temple architecture reached its climax during this period. Similarly, Buddhist and Jain art also reached its peak during the Gupta Age. The Gupta rulers, especially in the later phase, were Brahmanical rulers. However, they showed exemplary tolerance for all other religions. Three principal deities were worshipped – Vishnu in the Northern and Central part of India, Shiva in the Southern part and Shakti in the Eastern part of India as well as in the Malabar coast or South-west part of India.
During the Gupta period, architectural development of the caves remained constant. However, the use of mural paintings on the walls of the caves became an added feature. Some of the finest examples of mural paintings can be found in the caves of Ajanta and Ellora.
Ajanta is a series of rock-cut caves near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. There is a total of 29 caves of which 25 were used as Viharas or residential caves while 4 were used as Chaitya or prayer halls. The caves were developed in the period between 200 B.C to 650 A.D.
The Ajanta caves were inscribed by the Buddhist monks, under the patronage of the Vakataka kings – Harishena being a prominent one. The figures in these caves were done using fresco painting and demonstrate considerable naturalism. The colours were obtained from local vegetation and minerals. The outlines of the paintings were done in red colour and then the inside was painted. Cave No. 16 is one of the most elegant specimens of cave architecture. The paintings are generally themed around Buddhism – the life of Buddha and Jataka stories. Of the 29 caves, 5 were developed during the Hinayana phase while the remaining 24 were developed during the Mahayana phase of Buddhism. Reference of the Ajanta caves can be found in the travel accounts of Chinese Buddhist travelers Fa Hien and Hieun Tsang.
TECHNIQUE OF PAINTING
The paintings were done using the Fresco method. It involved a three-step technique:
- A layer of clay, mixed with cow dung and rice husk was applied on the surface of the rock.
- A coating of lime plaster was then applied on the top of it.
- Colours and pigments were then applied on the moist surface. This allowed the pigments to seep in and create a lasting image on the rock surface.Example: Dying princess, Flying apsara, etc.
Located on the bank of the Bagh river in Madhya Pradesh, it is a group of 9 Buddhist caves developed around 6th century A.D. It is architecturally very similar to the Ajanta caves.
The Elephanta Caves are a network of sculpted caves located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri (literally “the city of caves”) in Mumbai Harbour. The island, located on an arm of the Arabian Sea, consists of two groups of caves: the first is a large group of five Hindu caves, the second, a smaller group of two Buddhist caves. The Hindu caves contain rock cut stone sculptures, representing the Shaiva Hindu sect, dedicated to the god Shiva. The rock cut architecture of the caves has been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries, although the identity of the original builders is still a subject of debate. The caves are hewn from solid basalt rock. All the caves were also originally painted in the past, but now only traces remain. The Elephanta caves contain Maheshmurti, Shiva in three aspects of Creator, Preserver and Destroyer.
Ellora caves are another important site of cave architecture located near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. It is a group of 32 caves – 16 Brahmanical, 12 Buddhist and 4 Jain. These set of caves were developed during the period between 5th and 11th centuries A.D. (newer as compared to Ajanta Caves) by various guilds from Vidarbha, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Hence, the caves reflect a natural diversity in terms of theme and architectural styles. One of the principal differences between Ellora caves and Ajanta caves is the slope of the mountain. While the Ajanta caves are on the stiff slope, Ellora is on the slant slope of the mountains. This is reflected in the presence of courtyards in Ellora, which are absent in Ajanta. There are examples of even triple-storied caves in Ellora.
Some of the prominent caves in Ellora are:
- Cave No. 10 is a Chaitya cave dedicated to Vishwakarma.
- Cave No. 14 is themed “Raavan ki khai”.
- Cave No. 15 is Dashavatar caves.
- Cave No. 16 is Kailash temple. It was developed under the patronage of Rashtrakuta king and was carved out of a monolith, and even has a courtyard.
- Two famous Jain caves are Indra Sabha and Jagannath Sabha.STUPAS:The Gupta age saw a decline in the development of stupas. However, Dhamekh stupa is a fine example of stupa developed during this period.SCULPTURESSARNATH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE
During the Gupta period, a new school of sculpture developed around Sarnath. It was characterized by the use of cream colored sandstone. The sculptures of this school were immaculately dressed and lacked any form of nakedness. The halo around the head of Buddha was intricately decorated. Example: Sultanganj Buddha (7.5 ft high)
The image of the Buddha from Sarnath belonging to the late fifth century CE is housed in the site museum at Sarnath. It has been made in Chunar sandstone. The Buddha is shown seated on a throne in the padmasana. It represents dhammachackrapravartana. The panel below the throne depicts a chakra (wheel) in the centre and a deer on either side with his disciples. Thus, it is the representation of the historical event of dhammachakrapravartana or the preaching of the dhamma.
The body is slender and well-proportioned but slightly elongated. The outlines are delicate, very rhythmic. Other features include: Folded legs, transparent drapery, the round face, the half-closed eyes, the protruding lower lip, and the reduced roundness of the cheeks. The hands are shown in dhammachakrapravartana mudra placed just below the chest.
The back of the throne is profusely decorated with different motifs of flowers and creepers placed in a concentric circle. The central part of the halo is plain without any decoration. It makes the halo visually impressive. Decoration in halo and the back of the throne indicates the artisan’s sensitivity. Sarnath Buddha images of this period show considerable softness in the treatment of the surface and volume. Transparent drapery becomes part of the physical body. Such refinement comes over a period of time and these features continued in subsequent periods.
Temple architecture, with the development of a square sanctum and a pillared portico emerged during the Gupta period. There was a gradual progression from the flat-roofed, monolithic temples in the initial stages to the sculptured ‘Shikhara’ in the later years. The progression can be distinguished into five stages:
GUPTA TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE
Gupta period marks the beginning of Indian temple architecture.
Gupta temples were of 5 stages.
- Square building with flat roof
- Shallow pillared porch at the front
- Sanctum (garbhagriha) at the center of the temple
- Vishnu Varaha temples at Eran (MP)
- Square temple with a squat tower (shikhara) above;
- Pillared approach, a high platform at the base
- On high platforms
- ladkhan at Aihole (Karnataka) & Parbati temple at Nachnabuthara in M.P
- An elaboration of the first type
- Addition of an ambulatory (paradakshina) around the sanctum
- Sometimes a second story is present
- Most unique achievement of this stage was “Curvilinear tower” i.e. “Shikhara”.
- “Nagara Style” temple making is said to be the success of third stage of temple making.
- Ex:- Dasavatara temple in Deogarh, U.P. & Durga temple at Aihole, Karnataka.
- Rectangular temple & rest all features continued.
- Barrel-vaulted roof above
- Kapoteswara temple at Cezarla (Andhra Pradesh) & Ter temple at solapur.
- Circular temples with shallow rectangular projection
- Maniyar Math shrine at Rajgir, Bihar
EARLY MEDIEVAL INDIA–STYLES OF TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE
STYLES OF TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE NAGARA STYLE DRAVIDIAN STYLE NAYAKA STYLE VESARA STYLE HOYSALA STYLE VIJAYNAGARA STYLE PALA SCHOOL
The basic form of the Hindu temple comprises the following:
- Sanctum Sanctorum: Also known as Garbhagriha (literally womb-house) is a small room, generally cubicle, which houses the principal deity of the temple.
- Mandapa: It is the entrance to the temple. It may be a portico or a hall and is generally designed to house a large number of worshippers.
- Shikhara: It is a mountain like spire. The shapes varied from pyramidal to curvilinear.
- Vahana: It is the mount or vehicle of the main deity and was placed just before the sanctum sanctorum.
However, under the patronage of the local rulers, different styles of architecture developed in the different regions of India.
PREVIOUS YEARS’ QUESTIONS (MAINS)
- Early Buddhist Stupa-art, while depicting folk motifs and narratives, successfully expounds Buddhist ideals. Elucidate. (2016)
- Gandhara’s sculpture owed as much to the Romans as the Greeks. Explain. (200 words) (2014)
3 .Write about Chatiya.