(Last Updated on : 19/04/2012)
Mauryan sculpture introduced new things in Indian sculpture
. It includes the wooden sculptures were replaced by stone and brick ones. Most of the Mauryan sculptures are related to Buddhism. This was largely due to Emperor Ashoka
. After converting to Buddhism
, Emperor Ashoka had built several Buddhist buildings and sculptures.
The Mauryan sculptures mainly comprise of the religious ones. The finest specimen of Mauryan sculpture was the pillars built by Ashoka. These monolithic pillars were carved out of single rocks. The well sculpted pillars bear Buddhist inscriptions. The pillars have supporting stones and had capitals on the top of them. The rocks are well polished and proportionately etched out. The pillars at Sarnath are the finest example of this kind of architecture.
One of the major features of Mauryan sculpture is the terracotta images. Hindu female deities made out of clay have been excavated from Mauryan sites. The forms of the mother goddesses are quite stylish. The sculpture of Sanchi Stupa and the sculpture of Dhameka Stupa in Sarnath
are worth checking out for the sheer architectural brilliance.
Mauryan period marked an imaginative and impressive move in Indian sculpting. The pillars were carved in red and white type of stone. The animal capital is a finely carved lifelike depiction. Worth mentioning sculptures are the lion capital of Sarnath, the bull capital of Rampurva and the lion capital of Laurya Nandangarh. The work of local sculptors represents the popular art of the Mauryan period. It consisted of sculpture which may was not commissioned by the emperor. The patrons of the popular art were the local governors which one can see in figures such as the female figure of Besnagar, the male figure of Parkham and the whisk-bearer from Didarganj.
The stone elephant at Dhauli was also probably carved by local craftsmen. The majestic lions, grand horses and graceful sculpture on the Ashoka Pillars speak highly of the Mauryan sculpture. Baksha statues discovered at Dibarganj, Parkham, Patna and Besnagar and images of the Jain Tirthankaras
reveal an indigenous technique in Mauryan sculpture. Usage of rocks as building material was the most important feature of the Mauryan sculpture.