Indian Art History

Aryan And Vedas  : Mauryan Phase : Cave Architecture : Sunga Art : Bharhut 

: Sanchi : Kushan Art : Gandhara School : Gupta Period  : Mathura School. 

There was a gap of about 1500 years after the Indus valley civilisation.

Aryans lived in teepees.

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Aryans were the nomadic tribes. Did not settle at one place. Hence did not contribute to architecture and buildings.

Befor India. Aryans first appeared in Iran.

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Both inscriptions were found in Iran.


 

Vedas


 

The word Veda is derived from sanskrit which means Knowledge, power, and excellence.

The Indo Aryans contributed Literature to arts.

Aryans produced 4 vedas:-

  1. Rig Ved - collection of hyms

  2. Yajur Ved - sacrificing text

  3. Sam Ved - collection of melodies

  4. Arthur Ved - magical chants and spell

 

Beside these vedas we have 4 Upavedas:-

  1. Ayurveda - medicine

  2. Dhanurveda - welfare

  3. Gandharva veda - music

  4. Shilp ved - art and literature

 

These were the collection of knowledge written in Sanskrit.

Hyms of religious and historical people who composed them.

Only the upper society could recite the vedas.

 

Before the vedas were given their finalised form, they were transmitted orally over a long period of time to many generations. Period between 1500 B.C. - 800 B.C.

 

Along with vedas we have a group of GODS (signifies positivity) and DEMONS (signifies evil).

 

Birth of Indra. catalyst act. creator of individual forms so that the opposition of Devas and Asuras is a popular theme in later Hinduism and art.

Hindu Gods   Indra   Hindu God.png

 

Vedas present a category of 33 gods. among these were sky, thunder, moon, sun, fire, water, river, etc.

According to the vedas, the indo aryans used to line at the banks of satya sidhu (Punjab)

They did not require any image or temple for worship rather simply a square altar to set up fire for sacrifice to call god.

The sacrifices were called YAJNA and priests were called YAJA and whom they were done were the YAJAMAN.

Ceremonies in alter areas became rich sources of later hindu temple Architecture.

 

The two examples of potteries found are :-

  1. Red and Black ware

  2. Painted Grey.

 

Vedic Society

Interaction of religious tradition and plastic art came into existence in mauryan period.

All terracotta pottery entered in stone sculpture.

So in Buddhist Architecture we have 3 things:-

 

  1. stupas

  2. chaityas (place where monks worshipped)

  3. viharas (place where monks lived)

 

Upanishad Society

800 - 450 B.C.

These were separate text which were anti ritualistic and emerged as a reaction against sacrificial religion (i.e. vedas) to call upon god.

They say- we should believe in our karma.

They were actually philosophical and spiritual in nature.

They were called the vedant (i.e. end of vedas)

The word Upanishad contain origin of Mankind and gods nature.

They practice the doctrine of karma (action) aatma (soul) god (brahma) and Sansaar (Good actions).

There are about 108 upanishad, thus they believe in the interaction of universal and individual form.


 

Puranas and Epics

 

In Hinduism, the VEDAS are the BASE FOR ALL.

 

These Vedas are Three in number ( trayee vedyam......Adi sankara too says), the Atharva Veda is said to have been derived from out of the other THREE VEDAS.

 

The Vedas contain AXIOM like sanskrit verses , very tough to understand without a leaned SADGURU.More over they shall be learnt with SWARAM.

 

So As Vedanta , UPANISHADS came where in the Vedic matters or the quintessence has been , explained in a comparatively simpler way.But these upanishads too needed Commentaries.

 

The EPICS OR ITIHASAS are the ACTUAL HISTORY.They are the recorded events, chronologically , without any additions or any interpolations.

 

ITI HA ASAM itself means , THIS HAPPENED EXACTLY THIS WAY.

 

We have, Sri Ramayana and Mahabharata TWO GREAT ITIHASAS OR EPICS.

 

But to see things that are in Vedas are percolated to even common peoples levels PURANAS CAME.There are 18 Main Puranas and 18 Upa puranas.

These Puranas explain the complex matter in a story telling manner that can be remembered easily , understood easily. So the puranas came into being.

 

The Puranas are chronicles containing ancient history, mythology and longer or shorter discourses in religion, philosophy, yoga, mystical attainments and spiritual realisation, and many other kindred subjects.


During the centuries immediately preceding and following the beginning of the Common Era, the recension of the two great Sanskrit epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, took shape out of existing heroic epic storiesmythology, philosophy, and above all the discussion of the problem of dharma. Much of the material in the epics dates far back into the Vedic period, while the rest continued to be added until well into the medieval period. It is conventional, however, to date the more or less final recension of the Sanskrit texts of the epics to the period from 200bce to 200 ce.

 

BHARUTH

 

  1. Bharhut sculpture, early Indian sculpture of the Shunga period (mid-2nd century bce) that decorated the great stupa, or relic mound, of Bharhut, in Madhya Pradesh state.

  2. It has been largely destroyed, and most of the existing remains—railings and entrance gateways—are now in the Indian Museum in Kolkata (Calcutta).

  3. The Bharhut style, though at times archaic and primitive in its conception, marks the beginnings of a tradition of Buddhist narrative relief and decoration of sacred buildings that continued for several centuries.

  4. Sculptures similar to the Bharhut remains are located throughout northern India, suggesting that the Bharhut site was the main place for this style type.

  5. The flat planes, rather stiffly posed figures, and precise, elegant detailing of the ornamentation suggest continuance in stone of an earlier tradition in wood.

  6. Some of the uprights bear in relief standing figures of yakshas and yakshis (male and female nature deities) that have been pressed into the service of the Buddhist religion; a frequent motif is a woman embracing a tree.

  7. The stone railing, which imitates wooden post-and-rail construction, is decorated with medallions and lunates, most of them filled with the lotus ornament and some of them centred by the head of a man or woman.

  8. Other railing medallions and the coping depict Jataka stories (legends of the Buddha’s previous births) and events of the Buddha’s life.

 

BUDDHISM

 

Buddhism is a nontheistic religion that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha, meaning "the awakened one".

 

Traditional belief is that he was born a prince in Lumbinī, Nepal in the Terai lowlands near the foothills of the Himalayas.

He left his home at the age of 29.

And at 35 attained Nirvana at Bodhgaya.(Bihar)

Delivered his first selman (updesh) at Sarnath (varanasi)

Attained Maha nirvana at age of 80 at Kushinagar (UP) in 483.B.C.

 

Branches of Buddhism :-

 

Mahayana is referred to as the "great vehicle". It proposes that all enlightened beings refuse entry into Nirvana, choosing to return to the cycle of birth and death to enlighten others until all beings are enlightened and achieve Nirvana.

Theravada believes that enlightened beings enter Nirvana as the become enlightened one by one.

The analogy is that The Davera is like a bicycle - a small vehicle for individual transport, while Mahayana is a "great vehicle" like a bus that gathers everyone before proceeding to Nirvana.

 

CHAITYAS and VIHARAS

 

Chaityas are the halls enclosing the stupas. Ashoka constructed eight rock-cut halls in the Barabar & Nagarjuna hills and the one near Rajgir dedicated to Jaina monks. The Lomas Rishi, the Sudama (both in the Barabar hills) and the Sitamarhi (Nagarjuna hills) caves are fine examples of the Chaityas which resembled the wooden buildings of the period.

 

More sophisticated rock-cut chaityas developed later. The final form of rock-cut architecture that developed from these early forms can be seen all over India in Andhra Pradesh, Kathiawar in Gujarat and in Ajanta & Ellora. The rock formation in all these areas were most suited for these rock cut structures. Alternating layers of hard and soft rock prevents moisture from seeping inside.

 

They began the work from the top & continued downward. The Buddhists were the main contributors to these rock-cut monuments and best monuments are those found in Ajanta & Ellora (vishvakarma cave- cave No.10). Fine sculptures adorn the walls. Figures of Buddha in various poses were cut out.

 

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 sangha ramas developed into educational institutions and centres of Buddhist learning, such as those at Nalanda, Vikramshila, Somapura. Hinayana viharas are seen in Ajanta, Ellora & in the Orissan hills in the east coast and at Nasik, Bedsa, Kondana and Pitalkhora in the Western Ghats. The development of Mahayana vihara can be traced only at Ajanta.

 

vihars-they are the rest houses of the Buddhist monks constructed in circular shape exemple- nagarjunakonda Buddhist vihara

 

chaityas-they are Buddhist prayer halls.two types based on religious belief -mahayana and hinayana

 

together stupas,chaityas and viharas are called maha sangharama.

 

VIHARA                               CHAITYA 

GUPTA ART

 

  1. There are contradictory theories regarding the original homeland of the Guptas.

  2. It was in 320 A.D. when the Gupta Dynasty came to prominence, a new era of imperial unity started again. The period which intervened between the fall of the Kushans and the rise of the Gupta Empire is called ‘Dark Age’ in Indian history.

  3. Not much is known about the origin of the Guptas, but we know that by 3rd century A.D. Sri Gupta had brought Magadha under his control. He was succeeded by his son Ghatotkacha Gupta. Neither the father nor the son seemed to have possessed any considerable power.

  4. But with Chandragupta I, the son of Ghatotkacha Gupta, began a new epoch in the history of the family. He was the real founder of the Gupta dynasty.

  5. Chandra Gupta ISamudra Gupta, and Chandra Gupta II were the most notable rulers of the Gupta dynasty.

Golden Age

  1. This period is called the Golden Age of India and was marked by extensive inventions and discoveries in science, technologyengineeringartdialecticliteraturelogicmathematicsastronomyreligion and philosophy that crystallized the elements of what is generally known as Hindu culture.

  2. The period of the Imperial Gupta has often been described as the golden age of the ancient Indian history. The Gupta period was characterized by all round peace, prosperity and intellectual development.

Gupta Sculptures

  1. The Gupta period saw the classic phase of Indian sculpture. Through centuries of evolution, this art of sculpture-making reached a stage of perfection. The sculptors were matured enough to transform stone into images of superb beauty. They were under no external influence. Their technique of art was at its best. In perfect precision and masterly skill, they could shape the stone into any object of attraction. They also set pattern to their art which became an ideal model for the future. Their works became the model for the coming ages.

  2. The Gupta sculpture was at its best in giving shape to the images of the deities and divinities, both of the Brahminical and Buddhist faiths. Countless numbers of images were cut into shape at several centers for their installation in numberless temples and shrines. On the bodies of the temples also such figures were plentifully displayed. Sculpture making became a major occupation, and the sculptors with their skill played a prominent role in the religious revolution of that period.

  3. Among the finest examples of the Gupta sculpture, the images of Buddha in large numbers stand out the foremost. The seated image of Buddha belonging to Sarnath has been rightly regarded as the finest of all Buddha images in India. It seems to convey the true messages of Buddhism.

  4. The standing Buddha of Mathura, and the colossal copper statue of Buddha which is now in a British museum are some other excellent examples of the Gupta sculpture.

  5. The Hindu images, too, went by the physical beauty of their figures, dignity of their divinity, and grace of their spiritual being. Among the best examples of Hindu images, the Vishnu Image of Mathura and the Varaha Image of Udayagiri are considered wonderful. On the body of the Deogarh Temple, the sculptures represent the episodes relating to Rama and Krishna. They are of attractive style. The images of Siva and of other Hindu gods and goddesses were made in large numbers at various places. All of them possessed dignity. Their faces revealed spiritual expression and moods of divinity according to the puranic descriptions of their individuality. It seems, as if, the sculptors were translating the themes from Sanskrit texts into religious versions on stones.

  6. The Gupta sculpture thus enhanced the value of the Indian culture greatly. They remained as models for the posterity. They also served as models for the Indian sculptural art in several countries of South-East Asia.

Gupta Architecture

  1. The Gupta Age, being an age of intense religion interests, saw the construction of large number of temples and religious architectures.

  2. The excellence of Gupta architecture can be seen in the temples of various Hindu Gods such as Shiva, Vishnu, Surya, Kartikeya, etc.

  3. Unfortunately, most examples of the Gupta architecture have been lost to posterity. The Huna invaders destroyed most of those works. Many disappeared under the ravages of time.

  4. Among the few surviving examples of the Gupta architecture, the famous Dashavatara Temple at Deogarh in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh is considered the best. The body of the temple is covered with beautiful sculpture with many figures. The other structures of the period include the Vishnu Temple of Tigawa in Jabalpur district, the Siva Temple of Bhumra in Madhya Pradesh, the Temple of Parvati in the former Ajaigarh state, and the Buddhist shrines of Bodh Gaya and Sanchi.

  5. Besides the structures in stones, the Gupta temple-architecture was also erected in brick. Among the brick temples, the most famous one is the temple at Bhitargaon in Kanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. The beautiful designs on the body of the temple show the artistic talent of the builders who could mould the bricks in various forms.

  6. The Gupta monuments were built under the Puranic religious con­cepts. They represented both balance and beauty. Built both in stone and brick, they maintained external decorations of a higher order. They were built in great many numbers, but have been swept away by the tides of time.

Salabhanjika

  1. Salabhanjika or Shalabhajika refers to the sculpture of a woman, displaying stylized feminine features, standing near a tree and grasping a branch.

  2. The name of these figures comes from the Sanskrit śālabañjika meaning 'breaking a branch of a sala tree'.

  3. They are also known as madanakai, madanika or shilabalika.

  4. The salabhanjika is a standard decorative element of Indian sculpture, a graceful stone sculpture representing a young female under a stylized tree in various poses, such as dancing, grooming herself or playing a musical instrument.

  5. The salabhanjika's female features, like breasts and hips, are often exaggerated.

  6. Frequently these sculpted figures display complex hairdos and an abundance of jewelry.

  7. The salabhanjika concept stems from ancient symbolism linking a chaste maiden with the sala tree or the asoka tree through the ritual called dohada, or the fertilisation of plants through contact with a young woman.

  8. The symbolism changed over the course of time and the salabhanjika became figures used as ornamental carvings, usually located in the area where worshipers engage in circumambulation, near the garbhagriha of many Hindu temples.

  9. Placed at an angle, salabhanjika figures also were used in temple architecture as a bracket figures.

  10. Salabhanjikas are also often mentioned in ancient and modern Indian literature.

                                                

Detail of Salabhanjika.

Hoysala sculpture, Belur, 12th century AD

                                                                                          Shalabhanjika on Eastern Torana (gateway), Sanchi Stupa

 

Stupas

 

Buddhist ideas and practices emerged out of a process of dialogue with other traditions – including those of the Brahmanas, Jainas and several others and can be seen in the ways in which sacred places came to be identified.These sites, with small shrines attached to them, were sometimes described as chaityas.

 

Why were stupas built

 

This was because relics of the Buddha such as his bodily remains or objects used by him were buried there. These were mounds known as stupas.According to a Buddhist text known as the Ashokavadana, Asoka distributed portions of the Buddha’s relics to every important town and ordered the construction of stupas over them.

 

How were stupas built

 

Inscriptions found on the railings and pillars of stupas record donations made for building and decorating them. Some donations were made by kings such as the Satavahanas; others were made by guilds, such as that of the ivory workers who financed part of one of the gateways at Sanchi.

 

The structure of the stupa

 

The stupa (a Sanskrit word meaning a heap) originated as a simple semi-circular mound of earth, later called anda. Gradually, it evolved into a more complex structure, balancing round and square shapes. Above the anda was the harmika, a balcony like structure that represented the abode of the gods.

 

Stories in stone

 

At first sight the sculpture seems to depict a rural scene, with thatched huts and trees. However, art historians who have carefully studied the sculpture at Sanchi identify it as a scene from the Vessantara Jataka.

 

Symbols of worship

 

According to hagiographies, the Buddha attained enlightenment while meditating under a tree. Many early sculptors did not show the Buddha in human form – instead, they showed his presence through symbols. This stood for the first sermon of the Buddha, delivered at Sarnath. As is obvious, such sculptures cannot be understood literally – for instance, the tree does not stand simply for a tree, but symbolises an event in the life of the Buddha. In order to understand such symbols, historians have to familiarise themselves with the traditions of those who produced these works of art.

Popular traditions

 

These include beautiful women swinging from the edge of the gateway, holding onto a tree. Salabhanjika according to popular belief, this was a woman whose touch caused trees to flower and bear fruit.

 

Romanesque Art

  • This term is related to ROMANCE, meaningly in the roman manner.

  • It refers to the art of europe approx.1000 AD and The rise of Gothic Style in the 13th c.

  • The term was Romanesque was invented by art historians in the 19th C.

  • It was the first style to spread across the whole of Catholic Europe.

  • Romanesque architecture was influenced by Byzantine art.

  • The art of this period was characterised by various style, both sculpt. and painting.

  • Most common subject were -  Life of Christ - Jesus and Mary - The last judgement.

  • Decorated manuscripts were mostly Bibles.

  • Flourished especially during 10th and 11th century.

  • Subject Matter - Biblical and Pictorial.

  • Stained Glass Windows - Mural Paintings

Sculpture

  • Stone, Metal, Ivory and Enamel Sculptures.  

  • Figures are mainly stiff and lack of space, no gap between them.

  • Eg. shrine of the three kings cologne

Architecture

  • Roman concrete construction. (a) barrel vault, (b) groin vault, (c) fenestrated sequence of groin vaults, (d) hemispherical dome with oculus (John Burge). Concrete domes and vaults of varying designs enabled Roman builders to revolutionize the history of architecture by shaping interior spaces in novel ways.

  • It is medieval architectural style characterized by semi-circular arches.

  • Castles and Churches

  • Started during 6th century to 10th century. Developed into gothic style in 12th c.

  • Romanesque arch. is known by its massive quality, thick walls, rounded arches, sturdy piers, groin vaults, large towers and decorative arcading.

  • Eg. “Abbey church of saint-denis”.