Two Periods Of Buddhist Art In India

Essay, Research Paper

Two Time periods of Buddhist Art in India

Academic anxiety?
Get original paper in 3 hours and nail the task
Get your paper price

124 experts online

Less than 1% of the population of modern India is Buddhist. Therefore, it is sensible to state that India’s importance for Buddhism and its art is chiefly its historical influence. Not merely is India the state where the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, lived and taught, but it is the land where the first images of the Buddha were produced and where Buddhist iconography and symbolism evolved. Bing a pupil whose household originates in India, I am interested in some of the historical facets and influences of Buddhist Art in India. Therefore, my survey of this subject extends to two of the most of import periods of Buddhist art in India, the Kushan and the Gupta Periods. The Kushan period is the period in which the first human images of the Buddha appeared. This paper will briefly discourse the Mathura part and will chiefly concentrate on the manners and properties of sculptures from the Gandharan part. This treatment will exemplify how regional differences contributed in developing two distinguishable manners of art within the same period. Therefore, I will briefly discourse the history and location of the Gandharan part. I will concentrate on the Gandharan Bodhisattva ( 2nd/3rd century, made of schist ) displayed in the Art Institute. Next, the paper will discourse the Gupta Dynasty, this is period in which the civilization of the period was more concerned with aesthetic values of sculpture, which I will exemplify through my treatment of the Preaching Buddha of Sarnath ( c. 475 ad, Buff Sandstone ) . As a consequence, the art from the Gandharan part will demo how regional location and influences affected this period’s sculpture, and the art from the Gupta Period will exemplify how aesthetic penchants of the civilization influenced the sculpture of this period. By discoursing the Gandharan Bodhisattva and Preaching Buddha from Sarnath, we can see that the art of Buddhism in India reflects the ideals and the sophisticated aesthetics of the varied parts and periods in which it flourished.

In early Buddhist art, the Buddha was simply symbolized by a wheel, a bodhi tree, or a tope. Not until the Kushan period [ AD 50-250 ] , during the reign of Kanishka I, was the historic Buddha represented in human signifier. The creative activity of a Buddha image in human signifier corresponded to the theological alterations influenced by Mahayana Buddhism taking topographic point in the faith. Two distinguishable manners of sculpture emerged during the Kushan period, one associated with the part of Gandhara and the other with the metropolis of Mathura in northern India. There is much argument in which part these first images appeared, and such treatment is non relevant to my thesis. What is relevant is that these two parts developed two clearly different manners of sculpture.

While Mathuran art developed from local Indian artistic traditions, Gandharan sculptures were to a great extent influenced by the artistic traditions of the Hellenistic universe, most likely as a consequence of Alexander the Great’s settlement in Bactria ( western Afghanistan ) . ? Mathura school sculptures frequently portion iconographic characteristics with their Kusana-period opposite numbers in the Northwest. But for the most portion, they reveal a strictly Indic stylistic heritage that must hold evolved independently? ( Huntington 151 ) . The Gandharan manner of sculpture, on the other manus, combines an challenging blend of Western classical and Indian influences. Gandhara was a part in the Northwest of ancient India, known for its Greco-Buddhist school of sculpture. Gandhara corresponded to the modern Peshawar vale, but its more popular significance today encompasses big parts of northern Pakistan and bordering northeasterly Afghanistan.

Gandhara’s regional location was critical to this Hellenistic development. Gandhara was located merely E of the celebrated Khyber Pass, consisting what is now north-western Pakistan. The art of the Roman Empire was likely brought to Gandhara because much of the Mediterranean trade with Asia was channeled through such mountain base on ballss. This part’s sculpture had some main features, particularly its grade of pragmatism inherited from its Grecian ancestors in the country combined with ideals of its ain native tradition. ? The stance of the figures, the manner of the curtains, and even the proportions of the idealised characteristics of the caputs with their consecutive olfactory organs, egg-shaped superciliums and placid looks owe much to Greek paradigms? ( Penny 103 ) .

We can detect the Greco-Roman influence on the sculpture of Gandharan art by detecting the Gandharan Bodhisattva at the Art Institute. As a beginning pupil in Buddhist Art, the stylistic differences in this sculpture are rather obvious. After carry oning research on Gandharan sculptures, I found that the sense of volume conveyed in the lineation of the Buddha’s garment is characteristic of Gandhara sculptures. Both the creases of the vesture and the organic structure underneath are modeled with a greater sense of naturalism compared to the sculptures can be seen in images from Mathura. It is of import to observe that although most sculptures from the Gandhara part portion certain stylistic and iconographic characteristics, a enormous assortment may be seen in its plants. However, ? in general sculptures are characterized by naturalism in organic structure signifiers, curtain, and pictural graduated table, delighting a debt to Hellenistic, Roman, and other western influences? ( Huntington 134 ) . This illustration of a Gandharan Bodhisattva likely one time stood in a tope or temple. This sculpture is made from the material schist. Harmonizing to the book? The Materials of Sculpture, Schist is a metamorphous stone of foliate character and dark silvery grey colour, sometimes be givening to blue or green. Used for the great school of Buddhist sculpture in Gandhara? ( Penny 310 ) . The difficult schist stuff allowed the sculpturers of Gandhara to carve the creases of the garments and inside informations of characteristics and jewellery much more crisply and with greater volume than stuffs such as sandstone ( Pal 152 ) . ? Originally [ such sculptures ] may hold been polychromed or gilded. ? ( Pal 307 ) . The constructions made of schist were frequently covered with gilded foliage, sometimes applied straight to the rock, sometimes over ruddy priming. This frequently made such statues appear aureate. Unfortunately, the sculpture in the art institute has lost its radiance with age, but if you look closely you can see gilded twinkles across the image.

This sculpture evidently has foreign influence when we observe the long wavy midst hair, the heavy robe and sandals. This seemed to be some of the influences via Alexander the Great’s suppressing tracts of trade. The deluxe bearing of the figure is emphasized by the powerful, heavy trunk, the rounded chests and venters, and the long, wavy hair. The strong, unit of ammunition mentum, straight nose, and smooth egg-shaped face adorned by a swirling mustache suggest the mixture of races and nature of Gandharan art and civilization. It is typical of the intercrossed art from Gandhara, ? Greco-Buddhist, ? in that the sculpture is strictly Greco-Roman in profile, but dressed as an Indian layman prince have oning a dhoti. The relaxed airs and jewellery represent the Bodhisattva’s go oning association with world as, through compassion, he has voluntarily postponed his ain accomplishment of enlightenment in order to give his superhuman powers to alleviate agony and farther the religious advancement of others. This impressive sculpture illustrates the outgrowth of the Bodhisattva as a distinguishable iconographic image in the Buddhist faith and artistic tradition.

The manner in which the robes bent, the facial characteristics, executed in conformity with the criterions of the Hellenistic school, are combined with the traditional brooding airss of Buddhist art. It likely stood on a base whose forepart was carved with a scene of worship. Gandharan Bodhisattvas are considered the most luxuriant adorned and regal of all Gods represented in Indian art, yet they display a human exposure by have oning appeals. These figures are accompanied by a field aura, which indicates their deity eventhough their other garb represents a secular prince. In drumhead, we see a Bodhisattva who is decorated with jewellery to typify his humanity, but is evidently a godly figure stylized to suit the ideals and influences of Greco-Roman sculpture.

While the Gandhara Bodhisattva illustrates how regional differences influenced art of the Kushan Period, the Preaching Buddha of Sarnath illustrates how sculpturers from the Gupta period were more concerned with the aesthetic consequence of their work. Karl Khandalavala explains Gupta art by saying that, ? While earlier art was extravert and concerned with everyday being, this art is introvert and aims at visualising the demigod endowed with the highest wisdom, which is declared as the supreme end of life? ( 41 ) . In his book, Indian Sculpture, Pratapaditya Pal physiques on Khandalavala’s thought when he states, ? There is less concern with garment creases and inside informations of jewellery. In contrast, the sculpturers were more interested in registering interior feeling and religious rapture, non through dramatic deformations but by a subtle and calm expressiveness? ( 212 ) .

The Gupta period ( AD c. 320-c.54

0 ) has earned the rubric of? the aureate age of India? as it was a period of great military strength, wealth and prosperity, and a period where the humanistic disciplines and scientific disciplines flourished. Historical background of a dynasty is ever of import in discoursing art, nevertheless the historical background of the Gupta period will non be discussed in item because it is non straight related to the thesis. My treatment of Gupta art trades chiefly with the latter developments of the 5th and 6th centuries. However, it is of import to observe that the sculptural manner of the Gupta period is non an stray development, and was so influenced by the anterior sculpture schools of Mathura and Gandhara. Nevertheless, the Buddhist sculptures of Gupta period are aesthetically finer and more sensitive creative activity so that of the Gandharan Buddhas. The Gupta sculpturer converted basic elements of the Gandhara Buddha into a more refined vision. ? The Romanized visage of the art of Gandhara was subtly transformed and given? a pureness of signifier and look all its ain, by the Gupta sculpturer? ( Khandalavala 6 ) . The godly image now combines a disciplined organic structure with a conquered head. Although Gupta male monarchs were traditionally fans of Hinduism ( peculiarly to the Gods Visnu and Siva ) , they respected Buddhism, giving Buddhist spiritual and artistic communities unrestricted support. It is of import to observe that the iconographical system formed in this period became the footing for artistic look in India for centuries. However, it is besides of import to observe that it is frequently agreed that, ? these were the last great yearss of Indian Buddhist Art? as Hinduism displaced Buddhism in India, the hereafter of the art, like that of the religion, moved eastward? ( Sherman 103 ) . In other words, the Gupta period was the beginning of the diminution for Buddhist artistic representation in India. Nevertheless, it did so go forth its grade. After all, the Gupta period is considered as the period of systematisation of iconography. ? Iconic signifiers of the deities of all three spiritual systems became more stiffly determined and codified during the Gupta Period? ( Pal 213 ) . In other words, the portraiture of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas? gestures and positions became more detailed and conventionalized. These iconographic elements subsequently influenced and can be widely seen in Eastern Buddhist Art. This influence is one of the grounds why the Gupta sculptural manner is frequently referred to as the classical manner of Buddhist art.

Buddhist statues of the Gupta Period exhibit sculptures that are brooding and calm, a organic structure that is? subtly modeled? and a face that exhibits enlightenment. Rather than concentrating on how a Bodhisattva is dressed as in Gandhara, they are more concerned with the aesthetic consequence of the sculpture. Therefore, we see soft creases of the frock, the keen bending of the custodies and the half-closed eyes of the Buddha. The curtain of the figures are crystalline and clung to the organic structure as if moisture. The Preaching Buddha of Sarnath is? by and large regarded as the ether of the Gupta aesthetic and a chef-d’oeuvre of Indian art? ( Khandalavala 44 ) . Although, I have been unable to see this sculpture in individual, I was able to analyze and measure a full page colour illustration in the book The Golden Age by Karl Khandalavala ( 40 ) . As one examines this sculpture, it is obvious that this sculpture is concentrating on the meditative and calm qualities of the Buddha. The purpose is to concentrate us on the significance of the faith alternatively of concentrating on the individual of the Buddha. ? His signifier is extremely abstracted, immaterial inside informations are eliminated and our attending is drawn to the focused regard and to the custodies, countries surrounded by smooth undecorated surface? ( Fisher 55-56 ) . On a side note, ? the downcast eyes, so of import for the construct of the image, may good deduce from Gandharan art? ( Far Eastern Art 104 ) .

This image is supposed to picture the narrative of how after staying in contemplation for some hebdomads, the Buddha traveled to Sarnath, near modern Varanasi, where he preached the first discourse to his five comrades in the Deer Park. In Buddhist nomenclature he set the wheel of the philosophy ( Dharma ) in gesture, in art the wheel typify both the first discourse and the philosophy of Dharma. Buddha is seated as a yogistic ascetic, exposing the colloidal suspensions of his pess, and his custodies in the? dharmacakara mudra? the turning of the Wheel of Law. This became one of the most common indexs of the historical event at Sarnath, every bit good as a symbol for Buddhist instructions in general. Behind his caput and centered on the? urna? the tussock between his eyes, is the aura, the Sun wheel, bespeaking the cosmopolitan nature of the divinity. This sculpture evidently goes beyond merely stand foring this event, and more to the ideals of Mahayana Buddhism.

Unlike the Gandharan Bodhisattva, this image is stripped of all the jewellery and other non-essential artefacts. Rather, this sculpture is more concerned with portraying an image that is removed from this universe. The robe of the Gandharan Bodhisattva was big and volume with the plaits of the robe curling over the thorax in moving ridges. The Preaching Buddha’s robe is much more crystalline with loose curtain articulately stoping on his sides. The trunk is besides different in that the Gupta’s sculpture has a more triangular form trunk. The figure incorporates sandstone. This may partially be due to the impression that the stuff sandstone helps present a more smooth expression. ? The grain of sandstone is hardly discernable but adequate to do its smoothness more sensuous that of a stuff without a grain? ( Penny 111 ) .

Other noticeable features of this sculpture is that the Buddha is seated in a yogi ascetic airs. We see many common symbols in this image such as the Nelumbo nucifera flower. The throne is decorated with king of beastss, called leogryphs, which indicated a throne of royalty. Such images highlight the accent on a royal heavenly Buddha, which is to a great extent influenced by Mahayana beliefs. The aura is decorated with boundary lines of symbols, such as Nelumbo nuciferas, and frequently give reminders of symbols associated with yakshas. The custodies are sculpted more elegantly, the thorax and shoulders are narrower, and the face has a softer lineation than the Gandharan image. All in all the image is more soundless in its bringing. The spectator of the sculpture is asked to believe about the significance of the faith instead than concentrating on the vesture and accoutrements of the sculpture. They are asked to hold on the meditative and heavenly ideals of the Buddha and understand his philosophy. In drumhead, the civilization of the Gupta imperium influenced sculpture in that its Mahayana civilization demanded more aesthetic value in the art? in which one can understand the significance of the religion, instead than the figure of the Buddha.

The Kushan and Gupta periods of Indian art are two of the most of import epochs of Buddhist sculpture in India. To analyse the Kushan period I focused on the Gandharan Bodhisattva in the Art Institute. The two major parts of the Kushan dynasty, Mathura and Gandhara, were less than 500 stat mis apart, however, they developed two distinguishable manners of art. The Gandhara part was more Hellenic in manner due to the Greco-Roman influences on this part. As we progress in clip, we come to the Gupta period which was so influenced by the manners of the anterior periods. However, by the fifth century AD, it becomes obvious that the civilization of this period was more concerned with aesthetic value as illustrated by the meditative and soundless sculpture of the Preaching Buddha from Sarnath. By analysing these two plants and the periods in which they were developed we can see that the manner of one of the sculptures was influenced by the part in which it developed, while the other was more to a great extent influenced by the aesthetic penchants of the clip. In decision, the Gandharan Bodhisattva illustrated how regional location and ideals influenced the manner of sculpture, and the Preaching Buddha illustrated how aesthetic penchants and lifting cultural gustatory sensations influenced the manner of sculpture in the Gupta period. This analysis is of import in that it shows how the Buddhist sculpture in India reflects the ideals and the sophisticated aesthetics of the varied parts and periods in which it flourished.

Fisher, Robert E. Buddhist Art and Architecture. London: Thames and Hudson LTD, 1993.

Huntington, Susan. The Art of Ancient India. New York: Weather Hill: 1985.

Khandalavala, Karl. The Aureate Age: Gupta Art-Empire, Province, and Influence. Mumbai: Marg Publications, 1991.

Nehru, Lolita. Origins of the Gandharan Style. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989

Pal, Pratapaditaya. A Roll uping Odyssey: Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian Art. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997.

Pal, Pratapaditaya. Indian Sculpture: Volume I. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986.

Penny, Nicholas. The Materials of Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

Sherman, Lee. A History of Far Eastern Art Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1982.

Williams, Joanna G. The Art of Gupta: Empire and Province. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1982.

This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

Need a custom essay sample written specially to meet your requirements?

Choose skilled expert on your subject and get original paper with free plagiarism report

Order custom paper Without paying upfront

Two Periods Of Buddhist Art In India. (2017, Jul 20). Retrieved from