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Ancient History / Post-Mauryan Era

Gandhara, Mathura and Amaravati Schools of Art

Post Mauryan Art and Architecture includes three schools of arts that got evolved during this period. They are Gandhara School of Art, Mathura School of Art and Amaravati School of Art.

Gandhara School of Art

  • Gandhara School of Art flourished in the North-West part of India. It was patronized by Indo-Greeks and after that by Kushans. Kushan king Kanishka was the chief patron of this Art.

  • Gandhara School of Art got developed in Peshawar (Purushapura) and Taxila as its headquarters.

  • It is a hybrid (composite) style in which Greek and Indian traditions are merged. It is also called Indo-Greek style of Architecture. It is purely a Buddhist Art. It did not make any other images other than Buddhism (Mahayana Buddhism), mainly Buddha and Bodhisattvas.

  • It gave importance to physical accuracy and least bothered about spirituality. In some images, Buddha looks like a strong soldier rather than a God.

  • In Bamiyan valley, we could find world's largest statue of Buddha (belonging to 3-4th century) (a UNESCO World Heritage Center). It was 55 m in height. Recently, it got destroyed by Taliban. One more statue of Buddha having a height 38 m was also present here.

Mathura School of Art

  • Mathura School of Art was developed in Mathura as its headquarters. It was also patronized by Kushans. Kanishka was also a patron of this Art.

  • It was quite contradictory to Gandhara School of Art. It was purely indigenous in its style. It was never confined to one religion.

  • It made images of gods of every religion. It made images of Buddha and Bodhisattvas, Naked Tirthankaras, Trimurthis and their wives. Even secular images like that of kings were also made. Headless Kanishka statue of life size was found in Mathura. The inscription at the bottom says "Kanishka, the king of Kings".

  • Importance was given to physical accuracy as well as to spirituality in Mathura School of Art.

Amaravati School of Art

  • Amaravati School of Art was developed in Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh as its headquarters. Satavahanas and Ikshvakus were patrons of Amaravati School of Art.

  • We can find here white marble slabs known as "Ayakapatas", on which various stories of Lord Buddha are depicted like "Begging bowl of Buddha taken away by so many Gods", "Naga Muchalinda Ayakapata showing 8 hooded serpent (Nagaraja or Naga Muchalinda) giving shade to Buddha", etc.

  • Even Apsara images with human expression are also shown in Amaravati School of Art.

Gandhara School of Art, Mathura School of Art and Amaravati School of Art are unique in their styles.