Gupta Sculpture

  • The Gupta period may be described as ‘classic’ in the sense of the degree of perfection it achieved – something that was never achieved before and has seldom been achieved since and in perfect balance and harmony of all elements in style and iconography also considered as “The Golden Age of Indian Art”.Gupta sculpture seems to belong to a sphere that is entirely different. The Gupta artist seems to have been working for a higher ideal. A new orientation in the attitude towards art is noticed in the attempt to establish a closer harmony between art and thought, between the outer forms and the inner intellectual and spiritual conception of the people.

Features of Gupta sculpture

    • The human figure, taken as the image, is the pivot of Gupta sculpture. A new canon of beauty is evolved leading to the emergence of a new aesthetic ideal.
    • This ideal is based upon an explicit understanding of the human body in its inherent softness and suppleness.
    • The soft and pliant body of the Gupta sculpture with its smooth and shining texture, facilitates free and easy movement
    • Gupta sculptures are characterized by elaborate draperies, jewellery, etc.
    • The wet or transparent clinging drapery hence became the fashion of this age. But the sensuous effect of these draperies especially in the case of female figures was restrained by a conscious moral sense, and nudity as a rule was eliminated from Gupta sculpture.
    • The magnificent red sandstone image of the Buddha from Mathura is a most remarkable example of Gupta workmanship datable to the 5th century A.D. The great Master, in all his sublimity, is here shown standing with his right hand in Abhayamudraassuring protection, and the left holding the hem of the garment.
    • The smiling countenance with down-cast eyes is robed in spiritual ecstasy. The robe covering both shoulders is skillfully represented with delicately covered schematic folds and clings to the body. The head is covered with schematic spiral curls with a central protuberance and the elaborate halo decorated with concentric bands of graceful ornamentation.

Buddha sculpted during the Gupta time

  • The finished mastery in execution and the majestic serenity of expression of the image of Buddha came to be adopted and locally modified by Siam, Cambodia, Burma, Java, Central Asia, China and Japan, etc., when these countries adopted the Buddhist religion.
  • The image of the standing Buddha is an excellent example of Gupta art in its maturity from Sarnath. Unlike the delicately carved drapery folds of the Mathura Buddha, only the fringe of the diaphanous robe is here indicated. The perfect execution of the figure matched by its serene spiritual expression is truly worthy of the sublime being.
  • Sarnath introduces not only a delicacy and refinement of form but also a relaxed attitude by bending the body in the case of the standing figure, slightly on its own axis, thus imparting to it a certain litheness and movement in contrast to the columnar rigidity of similar Mathura works.
  • The stone carving from the temples at Deogarh and those from the temples of Udayagiri and Ajanta are excellent specimens of figure sculpture in their decorative setting. The large panel of Sheshashayi Vishnufrom the Deogarh temple, representing the Supreme being slumbering wakefully on the serpent Ananta, the symbol of eternity, in the interval between the dissolution of the universe and its new creation, is a magnificent example.

Anantasheshashayee, Vishnu Temple, Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh