Mauryan Art and Architecture
Mauryan Art and ArchitectureQuestion: Union Telecom Minister released a commemorative postal stamp on Emperor Ashoka recently to celebrate the birth anniversary of the king. Prepare a note on Mauryan art and architecture.
- Art and architecture during the Mauryan period progressed and was marked through the use of stone in complex ways and creation of masterpieces
- Mauryan period art and architecture except relics of Chandragupta Maurya at Pataliputra were mainly during the regime of Emperor Ashoka
The art and architecture can be classified into the following:
- Stupas are solid domes made of brick or stone in different sizes.
- Emperor Ashoka created many stupas all over the country to celebrate the spread of Buddhism and the achievements of Gautama Buddha
- Sanchi Stupa served as a hemispherical dome, with truncation at the top and surrounded at the lower level by a lofty terrace to serve as the gate for procession
- Specifically, the stupa architecture was located inside the dome.
- Inner wall of the stupa was created using sun burnt, terracotta bricks.
- The dome’s top was decorated by a stone or wooden umbrella indicating the universal supremacy of Dharma
- A parikrama encircles the stupa
- The stupa built at Ceylon was one of the most notable ones in the world
- Other stupas built in South India was Amaravati Stupa, Nagarjunakonda, Ghantasala stupas.
- The celebrated pillars of Dharma are free standing columns with two main parts- the shaft and the capitol. Shaft is a monolith column of one piece of stone with polish on it.
- The pillars mark stages of Ashoka’s pilgrimage to numerous Buddhist centres
- Sarnath column has the most developed art in the world in the 3rd Century BC and it has been adopted as a symbol of the modern Indian republic.
- It is 7 feet in height and lowest part of the capitol represents a bell shaped and inverted lotus
Mauryan Caves Architecture
- Rock cut caves of the Ashoka and Dasaratha Maurya era created as residences of monks are beautiful art specimens
Examples of cave architecture of the Maurya period include the following:
- Barabar caves in North Gaya
- Nagarjuna hill caves
- Sudama caves
- Gopi caves
- Caves have simple style and their interior are like well polished mirrors
- Pillars inside the caves appear as legacies of wooden architecture preceding stone or lithic architecture
Mauryan Palaces and Buildings
- The gilded pillars of Mauryan palace were decorated with silver birds and golden vines
- Traveller Fa Hien remarked that the workmanship was so delicate that no human hands of the world could have accomplished it
- All towns were surrounded by high walls with battlements and ditches with water bearing lotuses as well as other plants
- Mauryan pottery comprises many different types of wares
- Black polished type is found in N. India and has a burnished and glazed surface
- Centre of N. Indian pottery manufacture is assumed to be Pataliputra and Kosambi
Facts and Stats
- Ashoka Maurya also known as Ashoka and Ashoka the Great was an Indian emperor of the Maurya dynasty
- He ruled the Indian subcontinent between 269 to 232 BCE
- Born to Mauryan emperor Bindusara and wife Dharma, he was the grandson of the founder of the Maurya dynasty. Chandragupta Maurya
- Mauryan empire stretched from the west Hindu Kush mountains to Bengal in the East and covered the entire subcontinent apart from present day TN and Kerala
- Empire’s capital was Pataliputra in current Bihar with provincial capitals at Ujjain and Taxila