These columns are decorated with animals in detail, such as the bull or the elephant. A Maurya pillar with four lions (kept in the Museum of Sarnath) was chosen as the seal and symbol of independent India. The grace of the Maurya figures is unmistakable, such as that of the life-size statue of a servant with large breasts and narrow hips holding a frond; her sari only covers the five pearl strings attached. This beautiful example of Maurya sculpture can be seen in the entrance hall of the National Museum of New Delhi. The fine choices for the best watercolor painting now.
The Influence of Buddhism
More influential Buddhism shaped many of the sculptures created during the Sunga and Satvahana dynasties (200-1 BC). In addition to the stone used until then, bones, terracotta, burnt clay were processed, and there was a greater variety of motifs. Although Buddha was never portrayed by the artists of these three dynasties, his influence has manifested in the symbolic use of stupas, the Dharma Chakra (holy wheel of the law) or the turban. For the first time, friezes were carved depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha.
- Heavy sculptures were the order of the day, and Buddhist artifacts from this period can be found all over the country in Sanchi, near Bhopal, Udaygiri in Khan-dagiri in Orissa, Bodh Gaya in Bihar, Amaravati in the south and Bhaja in the west, In these places, stupas or burial mounds are surrounded by relief panels depicting the Buddha’s earlier incarnations and scenes from the Jatakas (the collective term for Buddhist literature). These include images of folk deities, such as the sensual half-hunjikas (naked female figures who hold a branch and are believed to be tree-goddesses).
- It followed from 340 BC. The Kushanas were a dynasty that traced its origins to Central Asia, as well as to Greeks and Romans. The Buddha-figure gained popularity at this time, and the enlightened one is portrayed with certain Greco-Roman stylistic elements in hairstyle, clothing and even facial features. Three primary schools of Indian art owe their origins to this period of history. These are Gandhara (with strong Hellenistic influences), Mathura and Amravathi.
The Prominent Representation
But a more prominent representation of the Buddha developed under the Gupta dynasty (350-500), which ushered in the classical era of Indian art. In the Gupta art, the sculpted form of the sculpture was combined with a unique spirit of calm and serenity. The Gupta art was also minimalist, refrained from overplaying jewelry and clothing, and adhered to simple, flowing lines that emphasized the body and only hinted at elements such as clothing.
At about the same time, the cave paintings of Ajanta and Ellora were created with a sense of detail and a quality otherwise unseen in cave art worldwide.
The paintings were discovered only at the beginning of this century, as the cave entrances had been overgrown by the jungle. The paintings are both Hindu and Buddhist and the works of unknown artists. However, it is believed that they were created by monks using sophisticated painting techniques. The caves were carved out of rock, their walls reinforced, and in some cases the rooms with their ceiling friezes resemble the chambers of earlier Buddhist prayer halls. The interior walls were coated and painted with episodes from Buddha’s life, with stories from the jataka and court times of that era.