Pallava and Chola sculptures

Pallava and Chola sculptures

The sculptures under Pallava and Chola dynasties are an incomparable work of art. Explain.

Pallava and Chola art has immensely contributed to the grandeur of southern India. The post 7th century era witnesses the most extravagant sculptures of south India. A new dimension is given to the concept of art with the wondrous sculptures of this region. At the wondrous site of Mamallapuram, the Pallava artists transformed the very rocks into a living world of sculpted forms.

Pallava art:

- Mahabalipuram, also known as the 'abode of Pallavas' is a treasure trove of art. The bas relief sculptures carved on monolithic temples built by Narsimhvarman I are a work of excellence.

- 'Arjuna's Penance' at Mahabalipuram is one of the most remarkable of all the sculptures. The magnificent relief on two huge boulders brings alive the entire surface with the finest of the details.

- The narrow fissure between the rocks has been excellently used to depict the flowing Ganga. The minutest details have paid attention to by bringing in perfection to every sculpture.

- The other most famous monument is the Five rathas, each named after the Pandavas. The intricate carving on the Shore temple stands as a testimony to the art of the Pallavas.

- The images of gods and goddesses sculpted on temples are excellent examples of workmanship of Pallavas.

- Portraits of kings and queens are represented which marks the beginning of imperial portraits in the art of India. Some very charming and natural scenes are depicted like cowherd playing a flute, a cowherd milking a cow who is licking her calf etc.

- The artists have succeeded in bringing grace and subtleness to the sculptures against the hard granite surface.

Chola art:

- The succeeding dynasty, the Cholas are equally responsible for the extensive grandeur of the south. From the 10th to the 12th centuries, some of the best sculptures in India are made under the Cholas.

- The sense of artistic expression which began with the Pallavas reaches a climax and culminates into the final stage depicted in the art of Cholas. The significant sculptures are found have adorned the walls of the temples.

- The best examples are the great temple of Brihadisvara in Thanjavur built by Rajaraja and the temple at Gangaikondacholapuram by his son Rajendra which show the zenith of artistic achievements of the Cholas.

- The engineering precision and the intricacy of sculptures of the Brihadeshwara temple is marveled at. An immense wealth of iconography is found at this temple which speaks volumes about the prowess of the king. The humongous monolithic nandi found at the entrance of the temple is a monument that leaves you awestruck with its mere size.

- Gangaikondacholapuram has been considered to be a replica of Brihadeshwara temple in Thanjavur. Built by Rajendra Chola, the temple is replete with sculptures on the temple walls.

- The most noteworthy of the sculptures are the Nataraja, the dancing Ganesha, ardhanari and coronation of King Rajendra Chola.

- The dvarapalas became a unique feature of Chola art. Ganas are the most memorable figures found in Chola temples. Besides the usual depiction of gods and goddesses, animal figures, foliage sculpture, perforated windows and other motifs are seen.

- The finest expression of Chola art is seen in their bronzes. The bronze sculptures created a special niche for themselves. The bronze sculptures replaced the lost wax technique where the sculptors followed the shilpa shastra. Elegance, beauty and preciseness characterized these sculptures. This art of bronzes is known and practiced even today.

Thus sculptures of the south have adorned the temples and continue to be a masterpiece having survived the ravages of time.
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