Sculpture of Sanchi Stupa - Informative & researched article on Sculpture of Sanchi Stupa
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Home > Art & Culture > Indian Sculpture > Indian Temple Sculptures > Central Indian Temple Sculpture > Temple Sculpture of Madhya Pradesh > Sculpture of Sanchi Stupa
Sculpture of Sanchi Stupa
The sculpture of Sanchi Stupa is reminiscent of the Mauryan era. Sanchi Stupa was commissioned in the 3rd century BC by emperor Ashoka after he converted to Buddhism.
 Sculpture of Sanchi StupaSculpture of Sanchi Stupa is simplistic with a massive hemispherical unit that contains the relics of Gautama Buddha. A 'chhatri' is also part of its sculpture. In Buddhism a chhatri stands as a symbol of honour and high rank. During the Sunga Era the dome was expanded. It was during the Sunga period that the dome was flattened at the top. It was further beautified by three parasols that were placed within a square railing. The Wheel of Law has been sculpted on this monument. The dome of the Sanchi Stupa has been built on the high circular drum used for circumambulation. A double staircase has been built to access the walking area. Another pathway was enclosed by a stone balustrade that has 4 'toranas' or gateways. These gateways had been built in the direction of the four cardinals. They also possess narrative sculptures.

The sculpture of Sanchi Stupa is a brilliant example of the rock cut architecture. The gateways and railings have been carved out of stone. In fact the gateways are adorned with detailed narrative sculptures. Each gateway is made up of two square posts that are topped by capitals of sculptured animals or dwarfs. On the topmost crossbar originally there was the trident-like symbol of the triratna and the wheel of the law. The crossbars are covered with relief sculpture depicting the events of the Buddha's life, Jataka stories and other scenes important to early Buddhism as well as lucky symbols. The reliefs are deeply carved. The panels are brimming with life. These stone sculptures do not represent Buddha in human form. He is presented to the onlookers with the help of things or incidents which are familiar to all .The Buddha is depicted throughout in symbolic form, by a wheel, an empty throne, or a pair of footprints.

Between the pillar and the lowest crossbar of the gateways female yakshas can be seen. The sculpture of Sanchi Stupa is in sync with that of the features of Mauryan sculpture. More attention is given to the open space around the figure. Sanchi sculpture is an example of early Indian sculpture that embellished the 1st-century.

(Last Updated on : 05/04/2012)
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