BUDDHIST JAIN AND HINDU ART
(3rd century B.C. to 8th century A.D.)
General introduction of art Mauryan, shunga, Kushan, gandhara, and Mathura style and Guptas period)
Maurya art encompasses the art produced during the period of king Ashoka. he was the first emperor to rule over most of the Indian subcontinent. Indian art had undergone an important transition during his period as his stone came into use in place of wood. The royal art was patronized by him. he built pillars stupas and caves.
The elaborately carved animal on Ashoka pillar are the best-known works and among the finest is the lion capital of Ashoka from sarnath, as it is now the national emblem of India. Mauryan art had both court and popular art. court art is represented by the pillars and their capital. Popular rt is represented by its works of the local sculptors like (Chauri) whisk – bearer from Didar Ganj.
These pillars were carved in two type of stones some were of the spotted red and white sandstone from the region of Mathura , the others were of buff colored fine grained hard sandstone usually with small black spots quarried in chunar near Varanasi. The uniformity of the style in the pillar capital suggests that they all were sculpted by craftsman from the same region .they were given a fine polish characteristic of Mauryan sculpture .these pillars were mainly erected in the gangetic plains . they were inscribed withn edicts of Ashoka on dhamma or righteousness.
GANDHARA SCHOOL OF ART
The gandhara school art flourished under Kushan emperor in the 2nd century A.D. according to hinayana ,the making of buddha image is prohibited ,like charan paduka (foot gears) and other symbols to propagate his religion and existence. The Mahayana religion came up in the reign of king Kanishka ,the great Kushan ruler. He started the creation of bhagwan buddha’s image and became the great patron of gandhara art . there was a definite effect of Greek art on these statues . these statues were mostly prepared at Peshawar , Rawalpindi and Takshila ;on the whole this area was known as gandara the art of this period was named as gandhara school, of art .
LION CAPITAL FROM SARNATH
PERIOD:CIRCA 3rd CENTURY B.C.
DYNASTY: MAURAYANS ASHOKA
COLLECTION: SARNATH ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
THEME: A sculpture of four lions standing back to back on an elaborate base that includes other animals. It was adopted as the national emblem of India in 1950.
DESCRIPTION: the sarnath lion capital the crowning piece of monolithic Ashokan pillar was built in the 3rd century B.C. at the deer park in sarnath the outskirts of Varanasi . here buddha had preached his first sermon after gaining the enlightment and set the wheel of law in motion dharma chakra pravaratana.
The capital made of polished sandstone is more than two meters 7ft in height. It comprises of four roaring lions placed back to back on a round slab called abacus. The abacus is supported by a bell shaped inverted lotus base .on the side of the abacus are carved four animals lion ,elephant, bull and horse moving in a clockwise manner. These animals carved with great skill alternate with four smaller dharma chakras or wheels of law.
It is believed that the capital was originally crowned by a bigger ‘wheel of dharma’ dharmachakra with 24 spokes the broken pieces of which were found at the original site.the four lions on top are highly symbolic and stylized with very little hint of naturalness.this is clear in the hair carved along the neck as a little flame shaped bunches and upper lip of the lions shown by three cut lines . the magnificent modeling gives them a great power and dignity. Surprisingly compared to the majesty of of lions the animal on the round the bare are done with great naturalistic energy and are defined carefully.petas of the lotus have rhythmically cut curves and contours .the surface of these pillars has a mirror like finish.it Laos reveals the aristocratic and international nature of the Mauryan art.
The great symbolism of the greatest Buddhist virtues along with the great masterly skill of sculpting of this piece of art deserved to be a national identity of great nation.
CHAURI BEARER FROM DIDARGANJ
PERIOD: 3rd CENTURY B.C.
COLLECTION:PATNA MUSEUM BIHAR
THEME: a life size sculpture of yakshi holding a chauri.
DESCRIPTION: The statues of yaksha and yakshis the deities of fertility and abundance are excellent specimens of the Mauryan craftsmanship in fashioning the human figure . the yakhsi from the Patna museum is a striking example of 3rd century created by a gifted sculptor .
The Didar Ganj Chauri bearers is named so because it was excavated from Didar Ganj an ancient locality of Patna in Bihar.it is beautiful female figure carved out of a single piece of stone standing 64” 5ft 4 inches tall. This classic life size sculpture was carved in the five grained buff colored sandstone delicately polished to a mirror like shine. though massive and bold in its execution this is a grand portrayal of the Indian ideal of feminine beauty. the careful attention to the detail is visible in the notable breasts, broad hips narrow waist and the creases on the lower abdomen formed due to the weight of her breasts the figure is wearing elaborate jewelry in the neck ears and the beaded matha patti with a big round piece in the center of hair partition at the forehead. There is a heavy garment below her waist draped elegantly with folds and pleats gathered in front. the pleats are neatly held in place by a beautiful in place and delicate jewel oddiynam .the most remarkable feature of the sculpture apart from the shiny polish is the peaceful and calm expression of her face .her composure creates a powerful impact of rare and royal dignity.this beautiful didarganj chauri bearer is a proud symbol of Indian artistic genius. It is considered the monalisa of Indian art because of “the mysterious half smile on her face.
BODHISATTVA HEAD FROM TAKILA
PERIOD:2ND CENTURY A.D.
DYNASTY: KUSHAN GANDHARA SCHOOL
SIZE:27.5 X20 X15cms.
COLLECTION:NATIONAL MUSEUM ,NEW DELHI
THEME: A fine museum quality schist stone head of Bodhisattva in a thoughtful expression carved with well defined features.
DESCRIPTIONS: in this Bodhisattva head the face is in oval shape and is tilted to its right. The forehead plane is large having protruding half closed eyes downcast beneath arched brows. He has full lips, long straight nose, round chin and elongated earlobes. The hair forming the ushnisha are thick and curly covering the head with sharp wavy linear strokes. The small urna in the middle of the brow arches is carefully added to complete the iconography. the two arches of the eyebrows are smoothly meeting the outline of soft protruding areas of nose. the lips have a delicate smile of contentment and eyes are carved in soft rhythmic line. The slight ups and downs of the facial features give a sharp shade and light to the face.
The most striking feature of this sculpture is the I fluence of Greco – roman -Hellenistic elements in the treatment of sculpture giving it an Apollo like representation.it is a fusion of physical feature of the Greco-Roman sculpture with Indian expression of serene spirituality. A large number of buddha images are found in the gandhara region. this mixture of indigenous elements in gandhara distinguishes it from other schools of art.
SEATED BUDDHA FROM KATRA TILA (MOUNT)
MEDIUM: RED SPOTTED SANDSTONE (SIKRI)
PERIOD:3rd century A.D.
DYNASTY: KUSHAN PERIOD – MATHURA STYLE
COLLECTION: GOVT. MUSEUM (U.P)
THEME: Buddha seated in padmasan with Bodhisattva on both sides.
DESCRIPTION: This Kushan sculpture height 27X1/4-inch 69 cm. Was found at the katra mount at Mathura.
Buddha has two crowned Bodhisattva attendants on both sides padmapani holding a padma lotus and vajrapani holding a vajra thunderbolt. He is dressed as true Indian as a transparent muslin garment sangheti that covers only one shoulder and gathered in small stringed folds along the upper left arm.this feature of gathered transparent textile also seen on the two Bodhisattva figure is a distinctive characteristics of Mathura.
Buddha is seated as a yogi in padmasan as crossed leg pose with soles turned upwards on lion throne under a bodhi tree. The face has a smiling friendly expression like all other Mathura Buddhas the buddha is backed by a large decorated halo carved on the edges and decorated with simple motifs. He is attended by heavenly beings called gandharvas placed diagonally above the halo bearing whisks. The Abhay mudra of the right hand and the other angled arm resting on his knee gives an air of movement. there are no wavy impressions of hair on the head like most of the later buddha only a snail shell like knot on the head ushnishas .other lakshnas like urna on the forehead between the eyebrows the wheel on the palm and soles on the feet are clearly represented.
Mathura sculpture from this period have light volume but a fleshy body.the beauty in the flexibility of delicately carved curves and contours give them an earthy look.the face is round with fleshy cheeks and shoulders are broad. the swell of the belly is sculpted with the quality of prana or inner breath in the figure. The flying Gandharans give a spiritual importance to the sculpture. the lion throne has three lions carved in relief the one in center facing the front and the two on sides facing away from each other . the earliest style at Mathura Kushan ultimately led to the development of the supreme Buddha icon in the Guptas period.
The flying gandharvas give a spiritual importance to the sculpture. the lion throne has three lions carved in relief the one in center facing the front and the two on side facing away from each other . the details are minimal but the liveliness in the figure makes it unique. this sculpture is an excellent early example of an entirely Indian buddha. The earliest style at Mathura Kushan ultimately led to the development of the supreme Buddha icon in the Guptas period
MEDIUM :- STONE
PERIOD :- CIRCA 5TH CENTURY A.D.
DYNASTY : GUPTA
COURTESY: STATE MUSEUM , LUCKNOW (U.P)
THEME : THE FAMOUS JAIN DIETY SEATED IN PADMASAN
DESCRIPTION: the main Jain deities consist of twenty four tirthankaras, the first being rishabhnath and the last Mahavir
. this image of swami Mahavira the 24th Tirthankara found in Mathura is seated on a square pedestal in a meditative mood. This statue of Jain tirthankara in Dhyana mudra with one hand at the top and the other is made in the Buddhist and Jain style of Kushan period.
As taught by lord Mahavir, tri-ratna the three gems of action which are faith righteous action and truthful words free a man from the circle of life sized sensitively modeled sculpture with a gentle peaceful expression beneath bow shaped brows. the eyes with an intense spiritual gaze, the hair arranged in snail shell curls rising to a lotus ushnisha complete this sculpture.
SEATED BUDDHA SARNATH ( GUPTA )
MEDIUM : CHUNAR SAND STONE
PERIOD : 5TH CENTURY A.D.
DYNASTY : GUPTA
COLLECTION : SARNATH MUSEUM , U.P
THEME : Buddha preaching the first sermon and turning the wheel of law at the deer park in sarnath .
DESCRIPTION : Sarnath was the most glorious site of Buddhist sculpture in the gupta period ( C.E 320-550) where Buddha gave his first sermon in the deer park and set the wheel of law in motion.
The Buddha sits in lotus position -PADMAASAN with his hands in dharmchakra pravartan mudra , the gesture of preaching or ‘turning the law of wheel’ . the half closed eyes are those of withdrawn meditation in a thoughtful mood but his hands are active to bring his message to the world .
The sculpture has illustrated all possible metaphors of Buddhist iconography – bow like eyebrows ,lotiform ( lotus bud shaped ) eyes and long earlobes.the buddha has an oval face , round cheeks fishey lips and heavy lidded half closed eyes in a yogic gaze. This is a typical gupta buddha with high arched eyebrows and a bulging power lip smiling gently at all humans .the body is slim and slightly elongated .the neck is carved with two lines indicating skin folds.the ouline of the form is delicate and rythymic . the tight snail shell curls on his heads to form ushnisha are well finished .
The panel below the throne depicts a wheel in center and a deer on either side disciples . the rear slabs below the halo represents the throne decorated on both sides with mythical beasts and crocodile heads. The richly decorated halo is another special feature of the art of the gupta figure . the wide , artistically decorated with floral motifs between two circles of pearl string like carving has a flying gandharva on each side . this gives his face more emphasis and adds on to the spiritual calmness.
Ajanta caves is the most famous UNESCO world heritage site and protected by archeological survey of india . the frescoes of ajanta are painting in the ancient rock – cut caves site , which is located in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra state 60 kms away from Jalgaon railway station . the art temples of ajanta depicts various emotions and practices like love , patience , worship , sacrifice , sympathy and peace in the form of architecture ,sculpture and painting .
The bright history of Indian paintings starts from the wall of paintings of ajanta frescoes and it is known as the golden period of art .
Time – 50 A.D. to 500 A.D. was the period of change in religious situations in the country .
The common man was tired of rigid religious caste system as and there was a general desire to break free from restrictions and to adopt new universal religion . the Buddha and Mahavira swami enlightened people as former founded Buddhism and later came up with the cult of Jainism.
Samrat Ashoka the follower of lord Buddha built stupas or chaityas and viharas for the Buddhist bhikshukhs .in viharas monks used to live and worshiped in chaityas . the stories of past lives of Buddha known as jatak stories were painted in Bagh caves and Ajanta caves.
SITUATION OF AJANTA
This holy pilgrimage of Indian paintings is situated in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra state from the railway station of Jalgaon ,pahur and Aurangabad , there are bus routes up to fardapur . there is a river bagora at the distance of four miles from the fardapur which has so many curves and on the last curve of the river one can see the Ajanta caves . there is a hillock about 300 feet high in a crescent moon formation or in a horse shoe nail formation which seems like a natural place .these are the art temples of ajanta where the example of love patience , patience , worship , sacrifice , sympathy and peace in the form of architecture ,sculpture and painting. the beauty of calm atmosphere of this place give inspiration to the Buddha bhikshus. Art of the painting of ajanta has reached to its climax due to the atmosphere . from October to December the natural beauty of this place is at the peak .
The caves are carved out of the large rocks . there are in total 30 caves in ajanta . previously 29 caves were known and 30 cave is very small and incomplete . latter is the smallest cave in which some scenes of buddhas life has been inscribed and some statues of Buddha are also there .
The caves are of two types :
- Chaitya or stupa caves :these were the places of worships and religious discussions caves no. 9,10,19,26 and 29 are chaitya caves.
- Vihara caves or living caves : they were the living places for Buddha bhikshus . cave no. 1 to 8 , 11 to 18 then 20 to 28 and 30th
Cave no.29 is the best stupa cave . cave no.1 otherwise is the best cave and is the 21 feet long and the most beautiful . the hand made paintings were done in all the caves but now they are visible only in the cave no. 1,9,10,11,16 and 17. The paintings of other remaining caves have perished over the years . the 9th and 10th caves are supposed to be the oldest ones paintings of cave no. 8,12 and 13 have almost vanished 11th and 13th caves were built in 500 A.D.
Now only caves 1,2,9,10,11,16,17,19 and 21 have got some paintings but 17th cave has got maximum number of paintings . however 9th and 10th caves were the oldest ones.
Technique of Ajanta frescoes and murals
Ajanta frescoes were done in tempera style .frescoes are paintings which are done on wet plaster in which colors become fixed as the plaster dries and is directly done on the walls and ceilings of ajanta caves . ajanta murals are well sized painting done on any surface but fixed on a wall.
Colors of Ajanta
Ajanta artist use only limited colors which were prepared from locally available pigment; natural white colors was prepared from lime or chalk stone, blue from Neel (indigo) trees yellow from pevady , red from red ruddle ,yellow color from arsenic . rest all the colors used in Ajanta paintings were mixture of red, blue, yellow and white. black color was made from burning the mustard in the oil lamp.
Subject matter of Ajanta painting
we find different aspects of life painted in Ajanta caves. lonely life of village, luxury life of cities, beggar, fisherman, fighting soldiers, hunters, bull fight, birds and animals etc. are the specialties of Ajanta paintings. The whole religious and philosophical life has been depicted in the background of these figures. Also themes of court life, feasting processions, men and women at work, festivals, various natural scenes including animals, birds and flowers have been depicted. the artist use shading to give 3D effect. Similarly, at Bagh caves ,150km away to the north of Ajanta, beautiful frescoes have been found. though the themes in these paintings are both secular and religious they do depict some aspect of Buddhist life and rituals. One of the most famous paintings shows a procession of elephants. another depicts a dancer and women musicians. these have been influenced by Ajanta style of paintings.
According to the scholars the paintings of Ajanta can be divided into three parts as regard to subject matter.
They are: – (1) ornamental (2) emotional or expressive (3) descriptive
The first category includes animals , birds , flowers ,creepers, giants ,divine people ,snakes , gandharv, apsaras , garuda and yaksha
Buddha and Bodhisattva, king and queen, Buddha in different pose, his birth, death and divine events of his life come under the second category.
Third category consists of jataka stories which are maximum in number.
Characteristics of Ajanta painting
1.LINEAR BEAUTY: The line drawing has added great charm to Ajanta paintings and there’s a beautiful expression of emotion through line art. The pressure of the brushes creates the desired effect and adds additional charm to the paintings. the lines are powerful, flexible thick and thin according to the requirement. the shades of lines are different varying from red to the dark brown and then black.
2.EXPRESSION OF SENTIMENTS: The expression of emotion and thoughts is the soul of Ajanta paintings. composition gaiety, friendship, worship, request and restlessness have been beautifully depicted. human emotions like love, shyness, sorrow, fear, courage, anger, hate, strain and beauty have been vey successfully depicted in the Ajanta art.
3.DEPICTION OF WOMEN: Women symbolizes the beauty and the Ajanta artist have made them look graceful, polite and divine and also as goddess of art, mostly women are painted half nude but there is no vulgarity.
4.DECORATION ON ROOF :The roofs of ajanta caves are also very beautiful decorated. animals , birds lotus ,god and goddesses have been used in lovely decoration . the specialty in this decoration is that in spite of the limited means available in the dark caves and working in dim lights the artist didn’t compromise with the quality of work .
5.COLOR SCHEME: -The use of limited colors in creating a different color scheme is the originality of ajanta paintings ,and moreover the retention of brightness in color for about 2000 years is another great feature .he whole painting has been done by gerua (ruddle ),neel ( blue color ),chalk and lime for white color and pavedy yellow ruddle for yellow color.
6.TYPES OF LIFE : Divine and common ,both the lives have been beautifully depicted in Ajanta art .royal and rural ,both scenes have been painted well.