The Satavahana rulers are popular for their contribution to Buddhist art and architecture. In places like Goli, Jaggayapeta, Ghantasala, Bhattiprolu, Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda the Satavahana sculptures are scattered. One of the main features of Satavahana sculptures is that these are not iconic. Satavahana denies any representation in human form. It is during the reign of Satavahanas that the Amaravati School of sculpture evolved.
The Satavahana sculptures at Amaravati reflect the influence of both the Gandhara and Mathura schools of art
. Eroticism is also a predominant feature of these Satavahana sculptures. Spontaneous energy, grace and dynamism oozes out of the carved stone figures. The initial style of sculpture underwent sea change when this school started depicting Gautama Buddha in human form. The sculpture of Karle Chaitya is a fine example of Satavahana architecture and sculptures.
Many famous places in Andhra like Goli, Jaggayapeta, Ghantasala, Bhattiprolu, Amaravati
have revealed the remains of stupas and sculptures. The Amaravati sculptures show some of the traces of the influence of the Gandhara and the Mathura schools to some extent. The theme of nature and related things are most charmingly depicted through the art of carving with emphasizing on vigour, activity and grace. The erotic sculptures are less in numbers but can be marked with their presence. The female figures are carved sensuously and the erotic appeal of the figures and situations is felt easily.
One more important stage of development in sculptural history is marked during this period. The Amaravati School has started the practice of depicting the Buddha as a divine being and receiving worship. The iconic presentation of Buddha was common till this period. Another centre of showing the Satavahana art is Nagarjunakonda. The sculptural tradition of Amaravati seems to continue at the art of this place. The Buddhist themes dominate the entire picture of artistic creations, although some scholars have evidences to show the influence of the Naga tradition on the art.
Throughout the sculptures the main themes is of showing various episodes revolving around the Buddha and his life. But the outstanding example of the sculpture of that ages & art of Satavahanas is the depiction of the Enlightened Buddha. The images of Buddha are mainly in the `sthanaka` i.e. standing or `asana` i.e. sitting position and marvelously portray a serene oval face of Lord Buddha
with a moderately built body. The images in sitting position shows striking similarity with each others in carving rounded shoulders. In many images, the right hand of Buddha is held up to give a symbolic gesture of `abhaya` means protection- or `pravachana` means preaching.
The Sculpture of Buddha in cave 10 shows Buddha as seated on a cushion and wearing red robe. On his forehead a chandan mark is noted. He is shown as surrounded by standing monks and householders. The Satavahanas created a tradition in the art of painting from Ajanta.