Buddhist Sculpture



The philosophy of Buddha was adopted by a large number of people in several parts of India. The construction of Buddhist sculptures got a predominant boost after the division of Buddhism in to Mahayana (great vehicle) and Hinayana (small vehicle). Mahayana sect believed in the glorification of Buddha as God while Hinayana sect remained stuck to the traditional faith called Theravada. Greater sway of Mahayana secured representation of Buddha in form of incarnation or as God. He was profoundly represented in statues in various kinds of materials like stone, metal wood etc.

Beside the statues and other representations of Buddha, three structures were the most important in Buddhism namely Chaitya, Vihara and Stupa. A stupa is a place, usually dome shaped, where the mortal remains of Buddha and other important monks are placed. A chaitya-griha Buddhist cave is a meeting or assembly chamber often used for purposes of prayer. In fact, it is not tough to find a stupa situated inside the interior space of a chaitya. While viharas are the shelter accommodations of the monks during the rainy season. The making of Buddhist sculptures had started from 3rd century BCE on record in the period of Ashoka. The great stupa of Sanchi was built by Ashoka the Great in 3rd century BCE. A chaitya was also built during the reign of Ashoka in Baijak-ki-pahadi in Bairat. The chaitya of Karle is very famous that was built in around 1st century BC and a chaitya of Bhaja.

Similarly several stupas and Buddhist monuments are found in Amaravati and Nagarjunkonda.Indian kings irrespective of their religions allegiance, collaborated in the propagation of Buddhism. As a result of that Buddhism could advance towards North, East and South of Asia.

Gandhara School of art proved to be a determining factor in the creation of Buddhist sculptures.Gandhara School is also known as Graeco-or Roman-Buddhist School. It flourished under the patronage of Kanishka (c 120-169AD). The subject matter of Gandharan art was undoubtedly Buddhist, while most motifs were of western Asiatic or Hellenistic origin. The Gandhara schoolof art is probably credited with the Buddha's representation in human form for the first time. The portrayal of Shakyamuni in his human shape is rather than shown as a symbol. Perhaps the craftsmen wanted to create human Bodhisattva, a representation of Prince Siddhartha, the Buddha Sakyamuni while still as a Bodhisattva. In the Gandharan representation nearly all early Bodhisatvas are shown in wearing turbans, jewelry, and muslin skirts, a costume that used to be flaunted by Kushan and Indian nobles. The most frequently used material by Gandharan artists was a soft indigenous schist which was available in color from light to dark gray, and often contained sparkling mica particles. Many of these images were covered with gold leaf to give them a luster in dark corners. The most popular media, however, was terracotta and stucco. Some statues were made in a different school of Art known as Mathura School of Art. Some mammoth Buddhist sculptures were also made in the Bamyan region of Afghanistan by cutting huge rocks.

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