The Chola bronze sculptures are quite simple to look at. The intricate details generally found on sculptures are missing. Inspite of being devoid of ornamentation the Chola bronze sculptures are elegant, expressive and exquisitely beautiful. These sculptures are renowned for being graceful and it seems that the artists have rendered to the lifeless metal. The poses and the expressions on the faces of the figures are so explicit that the absent surrounding of the figurine is easily discernible. Apart from the mudras or the poses the artisans have taken special care of the other details. For instance, if an artisan is making a statue of a god or goddess then the weapons and the 'vahana' are also taken into account.
One of the mudras in which the Hindu deities are often found in the Chola bronze sculpture is the Rishabaandhika pose. Lord Shiva is seen in this pose where he stands with one leg crossed across the other leg to the other side. One of his arms is bent and he is leaning on something. The way in which his figure has been carved it is apparent that he is leaning something. Here Lord Shiva is actually leaning on his 'vahana' Nandi.
Another figure of Ardha Nareeswara is also considered a remarkable piece of Chola bronze sculpture. This metal statue is of Lord Shiva. The uniqueness of the figurine is that the right half of the sculpture is that of male and the right half has the figure of Goddess Parvati. The male and the female figures have been blended so intricately that it is impossible to figure out the demarcation line between the two figures. This particular figure has been carved in accordance to the Shilpa Shastras. The mudras, proportions, ornaments and expressions have been carefully etched on the stone. The Chola bronze sculptures were made with lot of care. One of the reasons for this was that the Shilpa Shastras propounded that creating an image at one time with full attention was equivalent of performing real yoga.
Apart from these there are other sculptures that have been excavated in different parts of South India. One such place is the Tanjore district. Here bronze sculptures of Vrshabhavahana and his consort were discovered these sculptures belong to the reign of Rajaraja I.
A number of dance poses were also popular in early Chola period that were widely used in sculpting. Anandatandava mode of dance has been popularly used on both stone and bronze. Alongwith this form the sculptor of Nataraja came into being. Even today the image of Nataraja remains an important piece of work for art lovers.
The later Chola bronze sculpture gradually lost the artistic wizardry and the sculptures look lifeless. They became more traditional and the rhythmic movements and vibrancy were no more. After the downfall of the Chola Empire stone was again evolved as the accepted material for sculptures.
(Last Updated on : 09-04-2012)
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